It seems in life that in the meeting of someone else’s needs my needs end up not being met. In my current season of life, I am a parent of 4 girls spanning from 19 months to 11 years. Needless to say there is always a need waiting to be met. From the moment I wake up (no matter how early because my baby has amazing ears for her Mama) I am being asked to meet needs and in the process I am seeing my own needs going unmet. There goes the shower I was going to take today. Coffee will have to wait. If you don’t give me two minutes to use the bathroom I might officially lose it. All before 8:30 in the morning.
In the first post in this Cry Out series we see a new kind of fast being called for from God. One that goes beyond the disciplines that we place on ourselves but is instead a releasing of our control, and allowing for the unknowns that come when we include other people in our sacrifice. Bringing the homeless into our homes, sharing our bread with the hungry, covering the naked, allowing vulnerability with those closest to us (Isaiah 58:7). The fasting that had been taking place was calculated. The people knew what they were giving up and in return they expected to receive from God. I think we do the same things. We choose the things we can afford to let go of and in return we want more of God, more of his presence, more wisdom. What God is saying in those verses we looked at last week is that we need to be ready for a different kind of surrender, a different kind of sacrifice. The unknown kind.
This sacrifice is hard for us. We like control. We like to see the outcome, to visualize the risk and take calculated steps. To be ready to sacrifice for people is a risk we can’t calculate. We don’t know how people will react to our sacrifice, if they will use what we sacrificed wisely, if they will be thankful for our sacrifice, if there will be any return on what we gave. We see sacrifice for other people as meeting other people’s needs when ours go unmet, just like with my children. And this is often the case. We aren’t wrong to perceive sacrifice for others in this way. Often when we give for someone else the giving is real, tangible because we feel what we give leave us with no promise of anything coming back in return.
Many say that parenting is the hardest and the most rewarding job there is and I agree. Although on the day to day the hard often outweighs the rewarding. Here is the truth, people are worth all the hard that they come with, raising humans is worth it because they are humans with intrinsic value who are going to add to our world and touch others and make a difference. So we get them breakfast, change their diapers, drive them to school, listen to their stories, validate their things that are making them the people they were created to be and we sacrifice our own needs because they matter. The rewards of pouring into one another may not be immediate but there are rewards, maybe not countable ones, like a paycheck or a star on the reward card of life but they are better than any countable return we could receive. Any parent or grandparent knows this.
It is easier to talk about sacrificing for our flesh and blood or those we have intentionally brought in to our family. They are ours and we are charged to love them. But what about the homeless, the oppressed, the hungry and the naked? This is where things get dicey and a cacophony of reasons not to sacrifice for them surface. No matter our reasons this is our mandate from our Creator, Redeemer, Sovereign God. To care for and about these that aren’t ours by choice but are ours by human condition. Each person has value and worth because they are made in the image of God. Each person has value and worth because Jesus saw fit to come and die for them should they choose to accept his ultimate sacrifice. Our God of righteousness and justice who sits on his throne calls on us his children to care about what he cares about and that is those who are without.
Thankfully, God’s ways are not our ways and in God’s economy when you sacrifice he meets your needs more abundantly than you could have ever imagined in ways you never would have dreamed. God sees our deepest needs those of purpose, belonging, a righted relationship with him and seeing his glory. These needs are the ones we try and meet when we store our cash in ever growing bank accounts, buy too many fast fashion clothes or chase after bigger homes, more education or even larger families. Yet our Creator, he knows these needs and also knows how to meet them and how we can meet HIM which is truly the answer to every need.
“Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, “here I am”.” Isaiah 58:8-9
The needs I have in my deepest parts of me are my need for purpose, for healing, my need for joy, my need for a continuous right relationship with my God, my need for protection from the evil one, my need for constant communication with my Father. These are the needs that are met when we walk into Unknown Sacrifice. Our light breaks forth as God brings us into his plan and uses us to touch others, our healing comes as we open ourselves up to vulnerability, we realize again that Jesus’ death on the cross has given us an undeserved right standing with our Heavenly Father and we remember that he goes before us leading the way and behind us as our protector. When we call to him from a heart of surrender and sacrifice he answers and we know his presence in our lives.
When we see the needs that are met, the ones that matter more than any of the surface needs, then we can trust our Heavenly Father and walk in to the unknown sacrifice that is meeting the needs of others. So I CRY OUT today that each one of us will begin to pray this prayer:
Lord, Where do you have for me to walk into unknown sacrifice today? How am I to be about loosening the bonds of wickedness, breaking every yoke, seeing the oppressed go free, sharing with the hungry, housing the homeless, clothing the naked, being vulnerable with those close to me? I trust you, Triune God, to meet my every need as you include me in your plan to bring righteousness and justice to others. Amen.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness month. Together labor and sex trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide. The sale of humans is the fastest growing industry today. This month this Cry Out series is a plea for all of us to rise up and take time to consider what our role is in bringing justice to a world where selling humans is building fortunes and enslaving buyers as well as sellers. Follow Stories Foundation to learn more about this issue and what is being done.