Missions

The Sacrifice of Here and Now

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We often think of love as one big sacrifice,

but we can’t forget the countless moment-by-moment sacrifices involved in true love.

Source: The Sacrifice of Here and Now

About that Day When Everyone’s Irish

Everyone's Irish from Bing Images What do you think of when the calendar reads March 17? The color green and three-leaf clovers? Rainbows, leprechauns, and pots of gold? Bagpipes, blarney stone, and a little thing called luck?

You might not think of slavery—of a life devastated by separation from home and family. Of a young man trapped in a foreign land, bound in chains. Or of this same man, miraculously brought to escape only to willingly return to the land that held him bound, and all for love. You may not think these things, for this is the story that often goes untold.

Where I live, St. Patrick’s Day is a festive holiday for the Irish and non-Irish alike. Green-painted people roam the streets, some with tall green hats or shamrocks springing from their heads. Thousands flock to the parade and all the after-parties, sharing a toast to the day when everyone’s Irish. Even the river goes green. But are we aware of the haunting yet heroic story behind the day?

While he is often presumed to have been Irish, Patrick was actually from what we now know as Great Britain. And while he is deemed a saint, his life was not always all that saintly. His story is tragedy turned epic.

As a teen, he was taken captive by godless men and sold into slavery. At the time, he’d vehemently rejected the faith for which he is now known, but life as a slave opened his eyes to the powerful yet loving hand of God in his life. There in Ireland—far from all he knew and loved, he found the forgiveness of God. After six years of slavery, he escaped on a ship and returned to his homeland.

A few years after his return, Patrick had a vision calling him to make the ultimate sacrifice—to leave his family, this time willingly, and to return to the people who had enslaved him. I can’t imagine what he must have felt, and how he must have wrestled. To return to those who had treated him with such cruelty, and to preach a message of love and forgiveness? Only one who knew such love and forgiveness could complete such a mission. And Patrick knew.

He knew he was no saint. He knew he needed forgiveness. And he knew that forgiveness came as a result of God’s great sacrifice for him. It was gratitude for this love that moved him to sacrifice, as well—and not for those it was easy to love. He nobly sacrificed for those who had stolen his very life. And that degree of sacrifice is the essence of true love. Can we toast to that?

True Love…is NOBLE (Day 33, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

The Sacrifice of Here and Now

Horizon from Bing Images I used to think the best investment of life was to be a missionary in some far away place. It seemed a noble desire—to go to a foreign land, leaving my comfort zones for a higher cause. In my mind, there was no greater sacrifice.

Many years have passed since that desire first entered my heart. I’ve gone as far as Russia and the Philippines, and as close as the Dominican Republic. My stay in each place was no longer than a couple months. The only mission field I stayed in long-term was the inner city of Chicago, where I lived for almost fifteen years. My calling always kept me closer to home than I’d originally planned. But here on the home front, I’ve learned some significant things I may not have learned elsewhere.

The greatest sacrifice we can make is the here and now. We don’t have to travel to some exotic place to lay down our lives. When my husband and I first began our adoption journey, we were set on going overseas until we heard a radio program where the host noted how prone we are to step over the needs outside our own door in pursuit of what we mistakenly believe is the greater need across the sea. That comment led us to consider how many children in our country need a loving home, which, in turn, led us to our amazing kids.

I don’t mean to undermine the sacrifices made by those involved in overseas missions. One of my missionary friends lives in a hut in a remote African village, walks miles for basic supplies, washes her few sets of clothes in a jungle river, and often eats fried termites for dinner. But even she said there’s a monotonous routine on the mission field that’s not so glorious. Wherever we are, it comes down to the daily letting go—the motive of the heart in the sacrifice of the moment.

We often think of love as one big sacrifice, but we can’t forget the countless moment-by-moment sacrifices involved in true love. A marriage isn’t defined by the wedding day, but by the constancy of every day sacrifice for one another. A missional life isn’t defined by one big trip across the globe, but by loving and meeting the needs of those we encounter on a daily basis.

The whole idea convicts and challenges me. What needs do my own neighbors have? How about my co-workers, friends, and family members? If I’m not sacrificing here and now for those in my current sphere of influence, what makes me think a one-way airplane trip will change anything? Because true love is not about where we go. It’s about loving people wherever we are.

True Love…is DAILY SACRIFICE (Day 24, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)