Ephesians 5:2 NKJV
I don’t think I knew what true sacrifice was until I became a parent. That means for the first quarter of my life I was a little clueless about how much my parents made choices based on what would be best for their children.
That never entered my mind when I was a child.
Looking back, not only am I grateful for the choices they made for me, I am grateful that they chose to put God at the forefront of our lives. They served God well in our church community and they served God well in our home.
While both parents had very different gifts that they used, they both continued to use their gifts at home behind closed doors.
My Mom has the gifts of Service and Helps and at home she made sure I had what I needed. She cooked and served every meal. She cleaned, washed, ironed, and sewed using her gifts. She always made sure everyone who entered had what they needed. That included everyone who lived in our home. She was pretty particular about cleanliness, how a pillowcase was ironed, and even how clean my ears were every day. There were times I thought my ears were scrubbed a little too clean. I have to admit I was not always cooperative.
My Dad had the gift of leadership and teaching. He spent hour after hour studying for teaching and being a servant leader for God at church and in the home. He was always teaching me something. He was an engineer by trade and he taught me how to create, build, paint, and plan. He taught adult Sunday School for over 25 years and he was always teaching me about scripture. Looking back, he did not “give me a fish. He taught me how to fish” for answers in scripture. He taught me how to give a Speech. I majored in Speech Communication in college because he helped me love public speaking.
My parents did everything in church and in the home as a sacrifice to God.
My dad was a pray-er and he helped me to understand my unique gift of having dreams and visions. I didn’t really learn how important the gift of prayer was until I married a Pastor and became a Mom. My dad and I prayed together for the churches where we served and we prayed together for my family.
Everything he helped me with during his final years was a sacrifice. He’s been gone for 34 years now and I am ever so grateful he taught me about sacrifice.
My Mom was 59 when He went to be with Jesus. Even today she remembers my needs. She has lived a long life serving Jesus and serving FOR Jesus.
My parents loved me and taught me to love others.
My parents also taught me how to forgive others.
In Ephesians 5:2 we read, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
I learned who Jesus IS and how He loves and (to give you a clue) it didn’t learn that in church.
When I was in 3rd Grade I was given my own Bible. I felt so honored that I had a Bible that had my name on it. I’d always asked my dad questions about what something in the Bible meant. After I was given my own Bible, whenever I had a question about something in scripture and I asked my dad what it meant, he’d tell me to go read my Bible and ask God what it means.
Hummm…I wanted him to tell me. I knew he knew the answer but he wouldn’t tell me the answer. I wanted it to be easy. I wanted him to hand feed me but he refused. I have to say I thought it was unfair.
Sometimes that’s how love works.
It’s hard. It hurts.
The truth is my dad loved me enough to make me read scripture myself and learn to listen to God.
Real love makes sacrifices. He was willing to let go of me so I would grow up knowing how to listen to God. It was one of the greatest gifts my dad gave me.
It wasn’t easy but because he loved me he turned it over to God.
I also learned about forgiveness and once again i didn’t learn it in church. One night a man from church came to see my dad. I was told to go to my room to read. I don’t know where my Mom or my brother went to but they weren’t in the living room. We didn’t have a big house and I heard what the man said to my dad. He was mean and hateful. He yelled at my dad.
I wanted to go tell the mean man to stop yelling at my dad, but I knew better than to do that. After the man left my Mom was crying and so was I. I wanted my dad to get even but he said we needed to forgive the man. I didn’t understand it at the time but I learned later that when we forgive someone we surrender the matter to God so He can take over.
At the time I wanted to hold onto my hatred for the man but my dad told me to let go so God could help the man. I didn’t feel like forgiving him but I did it because my dad wanted me to forgive him. I was still mad and my dad said in time it would work out.
I found out much later than the disagreement came about because my dad and the man didn’t agree about a woman’s role in the church. See…my dad believed that God could call a woman to serve in a leadership position. This all happened during the early 1960’s. That night my mom and my dad reiterated to me that God was God and He can do whatever He wants. That night I learned that God can call who He wants to call.
Years later, God did call a woman. It was me.
As I finished writing this I smiled. That was because I realized both of my parents would say while they loved and forgave others for Jesus, it was also about being who God wants us to be.
I am ever so grateful that my parents taught love and modeled forgiveness in the home. THAT made it real.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Forgiveness, Love, and Sacrifice
Today if there is someone you need to forgive, tell God today that you forgive them. Forgiveness is not a feeling folks, it’s a choice. It requires sacrifice on our part. After you forgive them, say you love them. You don't need to feel love for them. in time, God will give you that. Saying you love them gives God permission to make it so. Even if you don't feel it, practice sacrifice.
In God, Deborah