We’re on a short home visit to the US. When we come to America we live in a small town of 5000 people. This year we’ve met lots of new neighbors as we’ve attended to the necessary details and repairs to our car and home. When we tell them what we do overseas, some have said, “Thank you for your sacrifice.” We usually say something like, “We really love what we are doing.”
But in my mind I say, “Sacrifice? What sacrifice? We live in a nice condo with manicured gardens. We live in a modern city where we can buy almost anything we want and all we need. The common language is English. Even if I lived in the States I probably wouldn’t get to see my kids and grandkids more often than I do while serving overseas.”
In the light of what many of my PW sisters face, I really don’t feel very sacrificial. But then, is that really the issue? Does living in the bush and reading by candlelight really please God more? Is living through a civil war or being deported because of beliefs the measure of commitment?
In my heart of hearts I don’t believe so. I believe what pleases God most is obeying Him. He has a plan and He has invited us to play our part in it. Like any good master, he not only tells us what he wants us to do, but gives us everything we need to do that. We have the greatest joy and peace when we are right where he wants us, living in his light, and doing just as he wants us to do. As always with our callings, connection precedes location. We abide in Christ and he directs us, by his Spirit, to abide in a location.
Doing what God wants us to do and being where He wants us to be is not always easy or comfortable. But He promised us if we have left family and home, He would give us much more in this life and even more in heaven. (Mark 10:29-30) We have seen this in our lives, as many of you have.
But what about the sacrifices that seem too much? What about the long hours of ministry or the unhealthy living conditions or our children’s educational needs? When is the sacrifice too much?
Our bodies and minds and souls can take excessive stress for a period of time, but there must come a time of refreshing and restoring. If we are constantly living on adrenaline, we will break down and burnout. I don’t believe it is God’s plan to break us down or burn us up. He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:29-30)
Jesus tells us that there are two most important commandments: number one, to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, and strength. Number two, to love our neighbor as ourselves. I think it was Floyd McClung who warned that if we are not careful, we can reverse the order of the two commandments. If we reverse the order, we are in danger of burning out and bitterness.
Jesus said he only did what he saw the Father doing. (John 5.19) If we stay connected to God and invest time in our relationship with him, he will direct us to do what pleases Him. The demands of others and the clamoring of our internal drives can cause us to exhaust ourselves. If we have gotten overwhelmed and anxious, God is waiting with open arms to draw us back to rest and refreshing in Him.
There is no other relationship that can do what God does. He can show us what things we’re doing that are not ours to do. He can show us better ways to do the things we must do. He can provide help when we ask and open our eyes to His provisions. And He will give us a new perspective. He provides rest for our souls.
If the sacrifices you are making are wearing you out and beating you up, it is time to find out what God wants for you. God has answers and adjustments that can lead us back to a place of peace and effectiveness. to the sacrifices you are making that He is not asking you to make.
Here are a few things that the Spirit might highlight that are easy for us to overlook:
- Are you eating what you should? Are you sleeping enough? Are you exercising? Get these basics in order first.
- What about your relationship with your husband? Do you have a friend you can talk to? Do all you can to strengthen your relationships. God uses the people around us to comfort us and keep us on track.
- If you need counseling, God might have someone near you who can help. There are even some who will counsel over Skype. And you can always write to me. I may not have the answers, but I, and some trusted, confidential ladies, will pray for you.
I pray that you are finding strength in God for the necessary sacrifices and joy in your service for Him. If this is an especially hard or challenging time for you, remember that the weakness you feel is not uncommon. None of us are bullet-proof super women. But all of us have constant access to the God of grace and truth.