For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Today, I am on my eleventh day of a program known as the Whole 30. This program is basically a 30-day elimination diet where the participant removes all forms of sweetener (yes, even stevia), all grains, all legumes, all dairy, and pretty much all processed anything from the daily intake with no cheating and no “slips.” There are specific guidelines on how to balance proteins, fats, and veggies with each meal and for pre- and post-workout. It’s kind of like a dietary boot camp.
The experience so far has made me think a lot about sacrifice for probably fairly obvious reasons (especially taking into consideration that I am the only one of a family of five doing it!). Though no stranger to dietary sacrifice, I admit that I hesitated to take on this particular plan, but that was mere laziness — not wanting to put so much thought, effort, time, money, etc. into my own meals so that my poor family would not be held hostage to the program. Now on my eleventh day, I find that I am already feeling some positive effects. My sleep has been deep. I am feeling a little less run-down and have a little more energy to spare.
While eating differently, I have thought much on what the Christ calls us to sacrifice. He calls us to die to ourselves, to take up our cross daily. He speaks of turning the other cheek when struck, of giving the modern-day equivalent of the shirt off our back to the one who takes our coat, of feeding and giving drink to our enemies and praying for them. He tells us to give freely to those who ask of us and not to demand our possessions back if taken.
Jesus held a destitute widow up as a role model for giving all the money she had to the service of God. He is not unclear in stating that the one who grasps and jockeys for position or acclaim will find themselves in last place while the one who serves without seeking credit will find themselves exalted. He, Himself, set an example by washing the feet of His followers so that we would know there is no task too menial or degrading for any who bear His name to do, not to mention giving His life as a ransom even for a reprobate like myself who deserved no mercy. For those of us who are His, we are not even to esteem our very lives overmuch, but be willing to lay them down for His Kingdom’s sake or for a brother.
In short, He calls us to sacrifice in every way imaginable.
What challenges me and gets those rusty ol’ wheels turning is this: I believe that there is a very real possibility that the Lord will return soon; if not in my own lifetime, then in that of my children. Of course, I cannot know this, but what I do know is that I am not alone in this belief. Not by a long shot. Regardless of whether this collective sense is true or not, the fact remains that He will come again — and not a single, solitary one of us knows when. It could be a thousand years. Or it could be before we finish this sentence.
With that in mind, what exactly is too much to sacrifice for His sake? What price too great to pay for a little while, here and now, for the wonder of Eternity in His presence? Is there any mortal and passing thing too great that it cannot be laid aside for love of our Savior?
I think that all it really takes is willingness. Take this Whole 30, for instance. I promise you that if I can do it, you can too. I am not particularly gifted with fantastic restraint or self-mastery. Temptation is no less tempting for me than anyone else. I am merely willing to give it my all; it is only for thirty days. Already, there is a reward in place, and one that will likely increase when it’s all over.
If I think of Eternity in that light, it simplifies all things. Everything in my life — homeschooling, money trouble, sacrifices made to obey God’s will — all of it is only a lifetime. It seems long, but it is oh-so-brief in the face of a span of time so tremendous that our minds cannot but faintly scratch at it. Whatever it is He is calling us to give up, we need only be willing. He will handle the rest. And I assure you that even in the darkest situation, His presence is a reward that will start to happen as we sacrificially obey. And it is sure to increase when it’s all over.
What are you holding that He is calling you to let go?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.