Adding some sweetness to sacrifice

11 days from today Nicole and I will be boarding a plane to go to Cape Town, South Africa where we will have a 6 week training with our missions agency before going to Thailand (hopefully our departure for Thailand will be in January).

11 days of continuing to struggle to hold on while at the same time trying to let go.

I always thought that you if you were “called” into the mission field, that you would have this overwhelming sense of peace. That it wouldn’t be a struggle because you KNEW it’s what God wanted. We have actually experienced the opposite.

I’m VERY confident that God has called Nicole and I go to Thailand. He has placed a vision and burden on our hearts that is not from us. And while we have a peace and a sense of excitement about leaving, we are also sad and nervous.

It would be so much easier if Nicole and I weren’t content with our lives currently. If we didn’t have a community of support, had strained family relationships, and were so fed up with our AZ sports teams that we were ready to leave the country (ok…. the last one is true on my part), it would be much easier.

This isn’t the case though. We love our families so much, and are so blessed by them. We have amazing friends who are so authentic and loyal, and have been a part of a church community the last 4 years where we have grown immensely.

THIS is what makes leaving so difficult. This is what makes it a struggle. Leaving the people we love. When I struggle with this, I try to keep these verses in mind:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple”Luke 14:25 – 27

Jesus isn’t actually telling us to hate our families – He is just saying that if we really want to be His disciple and follower, our love for Him should be incomparable. We must be willing to carry our “cross” and follow Him.

The cross represents Jesus sacrificing His perfect, spotless life, so that WE may live. He was the sacrifice that paid for our sins, so we didn’t have to. Being his disciple doesn’t stop with just believing in him and going to church. It means that we follow in his footsteps.

And what footsteps does he want us to follow in? A life of sacrifice. THIS is what true love is about. Sacrifice.

“This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”1 John 4:10

It’s easy for me to love people when it’s convenient for me. When I have extra cash. When I have extra time. When I’m in a good mood and feel like it. But Jesus doesn’t call us to just love people when it’s convenient. No, He actually calls us to love so much that it’s a sacrifice. This doesn’t mean everyone is called to be missionaries overseas. It just means that as we live day in and day out, we need to live differently. We need to love others to the extent that it’s a sacrifice on our part. THIS is the love that stands out. And THIS is only possible because of Christ’s love, because He first sacrificed, because He first loved us.

He isn’t asking us to do anything that He hasn’t already done.  He sacrificed His life and DIED for us…. so if we believe in Him, shouldn’t we be able to sacrifice our lives and at least LIVE for Him?

Spoiler alert: There’s some really good news. These sacrifices aren’t for naught. Jesus didn’t sacrifice himself for nothing. We aren’t sacrificing ourselves for nothing. He sacrificed Himself, knowing that He was establishing His kingdom that He would come back to, and invites us to be a part of it. We sacrifice the now, for the sake of the future.

So we can take comfort in this:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” – Matthew 13:44

Yes, as followers of Christ, we are called to live differently. We are called to sacrifice. We are called to be crazy like the man who gave up everything he had to buy some field, but we do it knowing we are giving it up for something SO MUCH BETTER. This is what adds sweetness to sacrifice.

Hopefully this is as encouraging to you as it is for me as we all continue to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

Know what else makes it sweeter? Friends, community that is sacrificing right alongside of you.

You guys. Your support. Your prayers. Your generous giving. Your encouragement. Showing up to Someburro’s to have a burrito, or something as simple as  a text saying “we are excited for you guys!” This encouragement motivates us to keep plugging along, and we can’t tell you how overwhelmed we have been with your support. We are so very grateful and have been blessed way beyond what we deserve. We hope we can continue to walk alongside you all and encourage you the way you have encouraged and blessed us. Thank you!

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