Café Menu for Thursday, December 3, 2015
Today’s Special is: It Isn’t Easy
Carefully prepared just for you by your friend, Dawn Aldrich
Going a little ahead, he fell to the ground and prayed for a way out: “Papa, Father, you can—can’t you?—get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want—what do you want?”
Mark 14:35-36 MSG
At the stroke of midnight my “one word”, S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E, activated like a Cinderella spell, barely a week since God dropped it into my heart.
I tried to shake it off like a wet dog, but it wouldn’t leave. God wouldn’t let me trade it for another word. You see, sacrifice didn’t conjure up those fuzzy, feel-good Christmas-y emotions. No, after a year of tremendous loss, accepting sacrifice was hard because I already felt spent.
In desperation, I cried out to God.
What more could I possibly give?
Without further explanation, God repeated,
The midnight call came and I ventured out into winter’s cold, obeying my orders to sacrifice. This sacrifice was painful. My hands and feet served until my nerves shook and crushed my spirit. During short breaks, I closed my eyes and rocked silently, wallowing in my own pity and grief, freezing my heart like the pipes beneath my mother’s house.
Worn down, I prayed God would melt her frozen pipes, let the waters flow and release me. Hours passed, and just when I thought God fell deaf, release came. Flowing water never sounded so good—like cascading waterfalls from every faucet.
Homeward bound, alone on darkened country roads, words from a familiar childhood hymn drifted from the stereo, melting my ingratitude.
Are we weak and heavy laden ‘cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Tears spilled everywhere—my own heart’s release—and I cried that sloppy, blubbering, snotty cry all the way home. And when the tears stopped flowing, I wondered if I’d failed the test.
Did I sacrifice well? Did I truly offer up my best to the Lord in all I did, or had my ingratitude nullified my offering?
Before my heart could punctuate the question, God’s answer came.
Well done. You obeyed and sacrificed well. You would fail only if you had ignored my calling and stayed comfortable.
But, Lord, I grumbled and asked for relief. How is that serving well?
Even Jesus asked for the cup to pass, didn’t he? But it didn’t pass. He drank—sacrificed until it hurt, out of obedience to his Father. And so did you.
Sacrifice—the offering of all we are and all we do as to the Lord—is hard and often painful. It calls for strength beyond our own. Ah, yes. Maybe that. Maybe it’s all that—the drawing nearer to God—whatever it takes, until Heaven’s waters flow.
When we surrender everything to God, we gain even more—God’s favor, authority, glory, salvation, eternal life.
Do you find yourself in the midst of a hard sacrifice?
Maybe it’s been a long year of hard sacrifices and God’s calling for more. If you feel you’ve given all you have to give, take heart, Jesus is there to strengthen you, to walk along side you and encourage you.
Call on His name and He will draw near to you.
Heavenly Papa, draw near to us, especially when the sacrifice is hard and we feel spent. Teach us to draw upon the strength of Jesus. And Papa? When we pray for the hard cup of sacrifice to pass us by, let our hearts’ desires to line up with Yours. Not our will, but Yours, Papa. Amen.
© 2015 by Dawn Aldrich. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Thursday, 03 December 2015.