Emptied

Sacrifice is said to be something that completely overtakes. I have, for most of my life, been taught about this kind of sacrifice. Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice. My first understanding of this word was connected with the people in the Old Testament with animals on the altar. It took me forever to even generalize this thought. I was thinking it as something so specific and exclusive, something way up in the sky instead of dear and near to my heart. I have, just in this year, experienced three different levels of what it means to surrender. I felt it, pursued it, and felt an emptiness by committing to that aspiration. Well, I’ll explain that “emptiness” later.

God got my attention in the summer by placing my pride on his altar to be covered by Him, to be taken away and taken to another level of knowing him by removing what I had held on to for so long. Then I was found on the floor curled up, crying over those that did not know of the surpassing love God has, the lost. I gave up all I lived for. Now, near the end of the year after taking quite a ride, I have felt something so seemlingly small overtake my life. I had an idea, more like something whispered into my ear by the Lord because truly my human nature would never agree to this! My youth group was participating in an event focused on Speed the Light (an organization giving money to buy equipment for AG missionaries). My pastor’s vision was 25 people X $80 each = $2000 for missionaries. I had a special day, well my birthday & Christmas and I felt a strong need to do something that last year I would have never done. What I specifically did was besides the point but the main point was that I was making a sacrifice, going outside of my “comfortable” lifestyle to do something to further the kingdom of God. It may have not seemed like much to one observing the situation from the outside, but in my heart I was struggling to let go which has always been my weakness (stubborn one might call it??). This Christmas morn’ I sat in the front room with an attitude a little different. Quite odd, actually, the feeling usually pressing to see what could be given to me and just being contented. I was Happy to be with family and was simply blessed for all God had given me. My parents let me know in their unique way was even though the gesture I did seemed insignificant, that I really did sacrifice something.

Now, what had left me empty? I had a new, odd, and mature perspective and was still blessed. What I sacrificed without knowing it was all who I thought I was, what I knew of life and what it gave. Choosing to give something up, let go of it and place it in front of Jesus, I was being emptied of these things. I felt a lapse for a day, the question almost echoing in my head “Wait, Who am I?. It was a somewhat bittersweet lostness. All who I thought I was was emptied from me. Then I felt a crave like no other to pursue God more than ever because I wasn’t “I” anymore if that is sensicle. I remembered a song about my identity being found in Christ, and I finally got that. I could no longer fall on to my own strength, because I felt I knew that the Lord’s strength was the only strength I could rely on. I think that is what sacrifice is, emptying yourself of all of yourself and all of your desires and seeking to know God’s heart and his desires. To anyone human, giving up yourself basically is a huge sacrifice. I’ve learned though that living for God is the best thing, because you begin to inherit his fruit (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control) and life becomes indescribable with him at the center. This message I had so well knew of I know know it because I experienced it, and I am now seeking to find myself only in who God is!

God randomly brought this verse to my eyes while searching through his word. I label it the theme verse of 2009 for myself:

“What is more I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be founded in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law-but from faith in Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:8-9 (NIV some paraphrasing)

-Bethany

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