It was when Alan ordered a side of bacon in a little diner in Pennsylvania that God gave a new life to this series. Despite what Alan was anticipating, the bacon tasted just as good as it would have had he ordered it for breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, lunch, afternoon tea, or a normally-timed dinner. Then he started thinking about how consistent he is in his walk with God. The answer he arrived at is the one I think we’ll all come to as well.
“I’d love to say yes, but no.”
I’m only consistent in my inconsistencies. I don’t really see how God can put up with my spiritual mood swings. I’m not even talking about the differences I show between the crises in my life; I mean within the span of one problem.
Let me demonstrate. One of my favorite bands is The 1975. I discovered them in early September of 2013, and I basically fell in love with them instantaneously. They announced a North American tour in early 2014 (January, I think), and they were scheduled to play two shows in North Carolina. Tickets were, in my opinion, astoundingly cheap. By this point, it was on my bucket list to see them live, and here was this perfect opportunity. It was May 14th in Charlotte – after graduation and not far from home. I called home, asked my sister if she cared to go with me, and decided that this concert would be a well-deserved graduation gift to myself.
After impatiently waiting, I finally got to order the tickets, and at the end of the checkout, I was ready for the whole, “Thank you! Your order has been submitted. Your order number is blah, blah, blah,” page to pop up. I was prepared to be so happy. Instead of that page, I got one that said my order could not be completed, and I was told to start over. It wasn’t the moment I’d waited for, and I went through the process again, this time equally annoyed as I was nervous. Finally, it said my order was placed, gave my order number, and said that I would receive a confirmation email. Wanting to bask in my gladness, I checked my email. There I saw not one but two confirmations. I had a total of four tickets and had spent almost $100.
To understand why I thought my heart was going to stop, you should know that at the time, I only had about $200 to my name, a sum which had just been cut in half, and wasn’t going to get any more money for two or three weeks. For those of you who don’t know or don’t remember, college life isn’t cheap, and an extra $50 will always make a big difference to any college kid. CrowdSurge, the company I ordered the tickets through, has a relatively strict no-refund policy. Plus, I didn’t know a single other person who listened to The 1975, so I couldn’t just give someone the excess tickets and have them pay me back.
I emailed CrowdSurge and explained what happened. Then I got an email saying my refund request had been submitted and that someone would get back to me in the next few days.
The days between then and the day I received confirmation that I would be refunded for one of my orders were not fun. I would be stressed about it and then I would pray and feel better. I would think about it again and begin to freak out then stop and remind myself to trust in God. One day I’d be all, “I’m not going to worry. God’s got this.” The next, I’d be thinking of how I would design the flyer to hang on my door regarding the extra tickets I would be stuck with. I was budgeting in my mind and worrying that I wasn’t going to make it. Then I’d think about how God had provided before and feel a little comforted.
I was so up and down that I was making myself dizzy, and it’s one of those times that I look back upon and wonder why God puts up with me. I wonder that a lot because my inconsistency is still an issue.
Sunday’s topic was sacrifice, and when I think of the sacrifices I constantly make for God, I realize there aren’t that many and they’re not that big. I volunteer at church and I tithe, but neither of them really drain me in any way. My sacrifices aren’t big because they aren’t making me uncomfortable at all.
Alan identified the five spiritual sacrifices as: generous and cheerful giving, worship with praise and thanksgiving, prayer, evangelism, and martyrdom.
Unless you’re reading this from the afterlife, martyrdom doesn’t really apply to you in a practical sense here (although your reaction to it potentially becoming your reality is worth considering). Out of the remaining four, I can safely say I need to work on all of them. If you can say you’re consistent in even one of those areas, you’re doing better than me, and I commend you for it.
But you know what? I think that while God wants me to do all that, He’s okay with the fact that I’m not always doing all of those things at once.
At first, I thought this list was a checklist, but then I saw that it wasn’t (and I don’t think that’s how Alan meant it). We don’t have to check all the boxes, just as many as we can, and we always must have at least one checked. So unless you’re an uber-human who’s just always good at everything, I wouldn’t worry about nailing all of these at once.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel like sacrificing. It can be a lot of work, and I’m a pretty lazy person.
It would serve me well when I don’t feel like offering anything up to God to remember the sacrifices Christ made for me.
First, He sacrificed heaven itself. He went from having complete perfection, living in nothing but love and harmony to come walk around on this earth with mankind, a hit-and-miss species at best. If that’s not a sacrifice then I don’t know what is.
Then after growing accustomed to life as a man, Christ sacrificed His life for us. Now, I know that was the plan all along, and Jesus knew that too, but a lot changed between Christ leaving heaven and Christ leaving earth. Jesus knew He loved the people down here, but then He physically met them. Jesus made enemies, friends, and memories. He surely developed a fondness for certain places. He could’ve picked up a hobby or two. He was no longer on the outside looking in at human life. He had experienced it.
He didn’t want to lose it all. Luke 22:39-44 shows us that much. Jesus is on the Mount of Olives with the disciples. They’re there to pray, and Jesus steps off a little to pray by Himself. The disciples, as we learn later in the scripture, are tired. Maybe Jesus saw them try to stay awake and pray as He knelt down. Perhaps one poked another as his eyelids slid down to a gentle close. One of them might have said, “No, guys! We can’t sleep now. Jesus needs us,” as prayers became sleepy mumbles.
I imagine Jesus sighed as He watched all this, but He also probably smiled. They didn’t know the soldiers were moments away from taking Jesus. He did, and He was dreading it so much that He started sweating bullets of blood at one point. But maybe right before the storm, He also felt sad. Sad at what would transpire, and sad at what He was leaving.
The only recorded words of Jesus’ prayer here are, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42, NLT).
Maybe that’s all that was said. Maybe that’s just all that was recorded for us to read. Regardless, we know that Jesus wanted to use another plan if God had one, but really and truly, He wanted God’s will done above all else. And it was done. A sacrifice for all mankind was made, but don’t think for a minute that it was easy physically, emotionally, at all.
True sacrificing never is. That’s why it demonstrates love and devotion. If we only give what we don’t really care about or what is easy to give, how much do we really love who or what we’re giving it up for? What we give tells a lot about us and our affection for the one receiving it. Jesus’ immeasurable love and flawless character was shown through His life and Him going to the cross. What exactly are our sacrifices saying about us?
By Carrie Prevette