My dad always told me that life was full of doing things that I didn’t want to do. There was never any hope, really, that he’d be wrong so much as a slow, sad realization of just how right he was.
Every morning when I wake up, my heart’s sincerest desire is to go back to sleep. That’s what I want to do, but what I have to do is get up and go to work. I have to go to work to pay for things I need, like a car, or for benefits that I have to have, like health insurance. I sacrifice what I want for what’s best for me. They are sacrifices I make as a commitment to my survival. (Note: This commitment is also why I am working on a zombie apocalypse plan.)
When I think of people who’ve sacrificed what they wanted for their commitments, no one stands out more to me than Jesus. After the Last Supper, Jesus and the disciples “…left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, ‘Pray that you will not give in to temptation.’ He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine’” (Luke 22:39-42, NLT).
We often talk about the physical sacrifice Jesus made for us, but we never talk about what He gave up mentally and emotionally in His commitment to us. We don’t talk about this part enough.
This is one of Jesus’ most human moments. We see where His desire and God’s desire do not match. Jesus knew what was coming – Roman soldiers beating Him, His dying body being tortured while on display for others. He also knew He was leaving the disciples, whom He loved very much. Think about it: Jesus was fully human; yes, He was also God, but He was human. He attached to people the same way we do. He had memories and feelings. He knew what was coming, but that doesn’t mean He wasn’t scared or upset about it. His time on this Earth with His loved ones was ending, and since that’s not easy for any other human, it wouldn’t have been easy for Him. As much as He loved everyone, as much as He wanted to be our salvation, and as committed as He was to us and our eternities, we can see how difficult it was for Him. Jesus had to make sacrifices, and some of them were incredibly superhuman, but others were as human as possible, as human as not wanting to leave His friends, as human as not wanting to die.
So what’s the point in me writing all of this or you reading it?
If you remember nothing else I write in this post, remember this: Everyone must make sacrifices for their commitments, and nothing is wrong with you for not wanting to sacrifice something.
Sacrifice, by definition, is the opposite of fun. We lose or destroy something we like for something else. You’re not giving up something you don’t like or don’t want because that wouldn’t mean anything.
What are we sacrificing for? Because that’s where our commitment is.
When I was younger, I wanted to be really good at playing basketball. So I played it every afternoon after school at my grandma’s house with my brother. I listened to him tell me what I needed to get better at. We stayed outside until it was too dark to see the goal or until my mom came to pick us up. I watched it on television. I was committed to basketball, so I spent my time and energy on it.
One of things I do in my free time is go to concerts. I spend money on tickets and save up money to spend on merchandise. I’ve probably already spent time with the songs of the performers and memorized the lyrics or the sounds at that point. I talk about my attendance on social media and watch and share YouTube videos of the groups. I’ll work my schedule around the show. I lose sleep to go to concerts. (One time, I went to a show that started – yes, began – at 10:00 pm because it was a small band I like that’s based out of Chicago, and I didn’t know when or if they’d ever come to North Carolina again.) I sacrifice a lot to do this, and in doing so, I am committed to this.
Do we do that for God? Do we give up money in pursuit of Him? Do we sacrifice our time and energy for Him? Do we do what He tells us, even when it’s the last thing we want to do?
It starts with realizing that God wouldn’t ask anything of us without reason or without helping us through it. That in combination with the fact that there is no greater pursuit or reward that a relationship with our Creator who is faithful and loving beyond measure. He’s worthy of our commitment, of course, but the rewards we receive for our sacrifices to Him are unreal. If you don’t believe me, try it. Put forth the extra steps and the effort to invest more in your relationship with God. You’ll wish you’d done it sooner.
By Carrie Prevette