Living Sacrifices

It’s the 4th of July here in the States. A time when we celebrate our independence from that monarchy and reign of the British so long ago. I joked it was the original Brexit on a couple of social media platforms because IT WAS. We often take this time in America to show our respect for the Founding Fathers of our quite young nation (look at other countries y’all, we’re pretty green behind the ears still) and honor those who have sacrificed for our country through battles and wars.

We are very sentimental that way as Americans, remembering the sacrifices of others to give us the independence we exercise through tubing on the lake, shooting off fireworks until the neighbors call the cops, and playing Florida Georgia Line at top volume. We like that word sacrifice alot around this time of year, what with Memorial Day and 4th of July, and the regal nature in which we honor those that ultimately sacrificed their lives so that we can not be under a reign of a monarchy or dictatorship.

But I don’t think we like that word being applied to our lives, or what we are asked to do. It’s good for others, but no so much ourselves. Believe me when I say I wrestle with this just as much. Because sacrifice means something has to be given up, it has to be surrendered…or even killed. So I look at Paul’s words to the Romans in chapter 12 and start to see the bigger tension evolving.

“That you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

See we are living…breathing…acting…doing…and yet, we are to be sacrificing ourselves for God, to Him, because that is the reasonable response to the God who saves, redeems, loves and sacrificed Himself for us. It means to me I have to kill off myself in every moment, give myself over not to my whims, desires and emotions, but the Spirit within me. Not choosing this world (as Paul continues on telling us) to live into but transformed by Him in every single part of us. It is the surrender of ourselves for the sake of something better-the very best we could ever encounter, God Himself.

So when I want to dwell in this place of sacrifice and seeing how others have given of themselves I cannot help but look at the sacrifice of Christ and the daily act as this living being of sacrificing myself unto Him, His reign, His rule and His will. Not for some selfish pursuit or half-hearted liberty I can conjure up but for the ultimate liberty in Christ.  Not to pursue my own life, but one sacrificed fully for the very best thing…Christ.

Oh that I wish it were as easy as I like to deceive myself that it is. But sacrificing myself and all that selfish desire, ambition and emotion is hard. The person that says it’s easy is lying, but just because it is hard doesn’t mean I give in and lean back into a self-pursued life. It means going hard into transforming my mind, knowing my strength is not my own, but Christ’s in every. single. moment. if I but ask, seek with my heart. Y’all, this Christian life of sacrificial living isn’t easy but it’s worth it. It’s worth it to surrender my attitude, my mouth, my mind, my weakness…every single bit of me even the parts I really don’t want to give up, to know I am serving God in faith.

So where might you need to live as a sacrifice today? What area has God been hammering in on you that needs to be killed off in order to be set apart?

Be a Hur.

I do not like to be dependent upon anyone. Some have attributed this fact to some of the root cause of my present singleness. Over dinner earlier this week with a couple of girlfriends I even admitted that I know I am independent and it would be hard to “lose myself” in my husband when the time came because I am just wired to be independent.

As I have begun to think on that further, on how independence and dependence are shaped, I found myself turning to a friend in the midst of a spiritual battle. It was a reminder that at moments of faultering weakness, when my flesh and my body fail, knowing my God doesn’t and He knows we need that dependence at just the right moment.

I had been thinking on the need for friendships, a healthy dependence to people who keep you accountable and also encouraged. In the relationships of life, it is those times of dependence that define friendship…when you turn as you are wrestling with thoughts or struggling to keep a mind stayed on His work…to that friend to pray, to sit with you in your need, to depend on when you just are not sure you can face whatever you find yourself in.

Exodus 17 is a favorite chapter of mine–odd I know since I’m such a Paul girl. But I love this picture of utter and complete devotion to a friend when life was on the line. You see the Amalekites came to attack the Israelites under Moses’ leadership. He chooses to send out Joshua and an army to meet them in battle…as he went above to hold the staff of God before the battle.

You see, God goes before us in battle. Something I often forget, and instead try to accomplish in my own power. But not only does He give Moses the power of victory, He gives him the gift of friendship in the midst of it.

While it doesn’t tell us this I think Moses began to see that as he held up the staff of God victory by the Israelites was apparent. However human strength that he had began to fail him, so Aaron and Hur bring a rock for him to sit and then….yall, and then they saddle up next to him and hold up his arms.

They too were with Moses in this battle….it was their fight too because the Lord was with them in it…He was before them and among them. He gave them the victory and the beautiful picture of what it means to be dependent upon friends. There were two willing to come beside Moses in battle, as he tried in his own strength knowing the Lord was with him, to support him and claim victory as well.

As I have gone into some battles this week I have seen an Aaron come alongside me to support my arms as I claim the victory in God’s Name. I am also getting to be someone else’s Hur in a similar way, pulling up a seat to be right by them as they face their battle-for it will be mine as well with them.

So who the Aarons and Hurs in your life? and conversely, who can you be an Aaron or Hur to? I think battles waged independently will find weakened hearts and tired arms, but those claimed in victory with God as the banner before the first strike are those fought with dependence-upon God and His provision of those friends in our lives.