The phone conversation brought me to tears. I listened intently as mama relayed to me the words of a young Marine who is 100% excited and 0% worried about being deployed. (And who “happens” to be 100% related to me. Proud big sister moment right here.)
“The worst thing that could happen is not me dying. The worst thing that could happen is if something happened to my family. So I go to protect and defend my family. I’d rather die for a cause than die because I grew old.”
That’s quite the mature statement, in my biased opinion, coming from a young man who is walking (or in his case, driving a tank) right into danger for the sake of his country.
But isn’t this what he was trained for? Is this not why he has spent months away from family and friends honing his skills and perfecting unwavering loyalty and obedience? No, this is no sacrifice. It is an honor.
David Livingstone understood this honor. The nineteenth-century missionary from England left the comforts of home to take the gospel to the unreached peoples of Africa, ultimately giving his life for the cause. But he too considered none of these things sacrifices.
“I never made a sacrifice,” he said. “If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”
Livingstone considered it a privilege to serve, suffer, and die with his Savior and for his Savior.
You don’t have to explore the deserts of Africa or engage in combat overseas to serve Jesus.
My neighbor and friend told me about one morning’s struggle that began the moment she opened her eyes. With four young children and one on the way, most days aren’t easy, and on this particular morning a splitting headache was added to the equation.
The rising sun was only just peeping through the window, her weary frame leaning over the edge of her bed, when she made the decision to not give in to defeat but to wage battle on the flesh: “I can choose to obey. Things may be hard, but I only have to handle one day at a time. Just today.”
The Common Thread
What makes this mama choose the hard road? Why would a Marine be willing to give his life for others? What would cause a missionary to take on such a selfless view of suffering and sacrifice?
Do they possess a supernatural ability to forego personal pleasures and conveniences? Is their faith super-sized? Do they have something we don’t?
No, they’re all just ordinary human beings like the rest of us. (Well, David Livingstone did have a British accent, so he has that in his favor.)
The difference is, these ordinary individuals believe in an extraordinary God. This is the God who . . .
- Never fails (Deut. 31:8)
- Promises to complete in us the work He began (Phil. 1:6)
- Gives us fresh mercies each morning (Lam. 3:22-23)
- Walked this road before us and can sympathize with our every weakness (2 Cor. 12:19)
- Made the ultimate sacrifice when He sent His Son to die for us (Heb. 10:14)
God’s saving grace is what made the difference for the Marine, for the Missionary, and for the Mama.
God’s saving grace should make that kind of difference in your life as well.
“If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1 John 4:11)
How are you showing God’s love to others? How can you sacrifice your desires and yield your rights for the sake of others, to the praise of God’s glory?