(Psalm 43: 3-4, NLT)
3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you live.
4 There I will go to the altar of God,
to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
O God, my God!
Looking back on the early days of my experience with motherhood — the pregnancy, the birth, bringing home a helpless infant and having no idea what to do with him or how to care for him, potty training, learning to discipline…just the newness of it ALL — the common denominator…the thing that governed my every waking moment…was sacrifice. I sacrificed my body, my mind, my rest, and even my individuality. I lost myself in this tiny human being, because becoming a mother meant that I must lay down my life in surrender to this gift — motherhood. Those early days were hard ones. I was learning so much…and I felt like I was failing every day in different ways. Yet somewhere amid the loss of sleep, the crying (both my son’s tears as well as my own), the mistakes, and the endless amount of poop (soooo much poop), I found joy that filled me to the brim. My sacrifices for my son were the source of what felt like the greatest joy of my life. I had been given this extraordinary treasure, and because I felt endlessly unworthy to receive such a blessing, I willingly paid each price that this baby boy required of me.
This is the great mystery of sacrifice — while inconvenient, and often painful, it has this odd way of producing joy. It feels good to give. It makes our hearts sing and and our spirits soar. It is in the act of sacrifice that we find our greatest joys, our every freedom, and the fullness of peace and restoration that we seek.
The fabric of who we are, what makes us human and sets us apart from the rest of creation, is that we are the image of God Himself. He breathed into us His own breath of life. He created us to love Him, to honor Him, to be like Him. It is the natural inclination of our spirits to desire closeness with our Heavenly Father, and it is only through the mutual sacrifice of God and His children that this intimacy is fulfilled. Sin is what separates us from God, but because of the blood of Christ (the greatest sacrifice) we have full and complete access to the throne of God — all of His love, grace, provision, and peace belongs to us. We have only to kneel at the altar of God, in His holy place — His presence, and sacrifice our lives (every hope, every plan, every part of who we are). When we offer ourselves to Him, in spirit and in truth, we become a living sacrifice, and that sacrifice is what unlocks the door to all that He has to offer us.
So we must find within ourselves that sacrificial love, so often freely given to our friends and family, and we must be willing to pour it out on onto Jesus. Like the oil from that alabaster box so treasured by Mary, we must break open our hearts and yield our everything, the most precious parts of who we are and what we hold dear, to the Lord.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for this reminder today that a life without sacrifice is a joyless one. Help me have the devotion and strength to lay down my life fully, for others as well as for You — and when I start to get weary of the pain and struggle that sometimes comes with it, help me find the joy that comes from pleasing You. Amen.