9/27/17 – Pastor Brian’s Blog
I can remember as if it were yesterday. The year was 1989 and this particular Monday started like most any other day. I got up early, went into the office, Judy got the kids ready for school and off to the bus. The only slight difference was that this morning our daughter Heather stayed home from school because she did not feel well.
Heather came home not feeling well the previous Friday but we thought she just had the flu bug. When she was still ill on Monday, Judy took her to our local health center to have her looked at, expecting to get a medical prescription and then come right back home. Never could those plans have been farther from the truth!
I get a phone call from Judy (this was before cell phones) and she said that she was at the hospital, that they had rushed Heather to the hospital and that I needed to come immediately. So I rushed to the hospital and when I entered Heather’s room, things were much worse than I could have ever imagined.
I walk into the hospital room and I see Heather in an oxygen tent, she has all kinds of tubes running to her body (my eyes are watering as I write this), her blood sugar is at 900, and they are afraid that she is doing into a diabetic coma. At this point we had no idea that our daughter had diabetes.
Heather looks lifeless; to be honest, she looks like, if she was not dead, she was ready to die! And being the spiritual person that I was, I mean, I am working in a Christian ministry, I am giving advice and counsel to hundreds of people a year, I am the person that was supposed to have the answers for everyone else and my first response is, “God, how could You do this?!!”
God how could you do this to us? We have made great sacrifices to be in ministry, we have given up everything to serve you; how could you do this to us?? Please understand, for Judy and me to go into full time ministry, I went to Bible School as a married student with 2 children. To go into full time ministry, I gave up an opportunity to inherit a business that would have made me a millionaire. We left for Bible School with $100 to our name; with Christian School tuition ahead of us for the kids, with rent payments needing to be paid each month, with a Bible School bill that needed to be paid before each semester, we had to buy food, we had to maintain and buy gas for a vehicle and… I think you are getting my point.
Then after I graduated from Bible School, as a family, we made sacrifices to stay in ministry. It was a rare treat for my family to go to McDonald’s. We moved 27 times in our first ten years of ministry, not because we were running from bill collectors but because we needed to find rents we could afford to pay. I remember driving one of our cars, and we had to make conscious decisions not to drive in mud puddles because the water would splash up through the holes in the floor. We had another car that we had to be careful where we parked it because if it was parked in the wrong spot we would have to get out and push it out because we had lost the reverse gear in it.
So I am standing there looking at Heather, maybe not thinking these exact thoughts but many thoughts like this, and asking God, “After we have made so many sacrifices for You, after we have given up so much, after we have gone through so many difficulties; first to get into full ministry and then to stay in full time ministry, how could you now do this to us? How could you allow this to happen to Heather?”
I am sure that some of you that are reading this blog can say, that what I am describing here…is nothing. You may say, ‘I have experienced much harder situations then that, I have made far greater sacrifices than that,’ and I would not argue with you. There are many people that have lived more painful and more difficult lives than my family has. But my point isn’t who has suffered the most, or who has a greater war story than me, my question is this; the things that Judy and I have experienced over our 35+ years of ministry, is that really a sacrifice at all?
The question I have had to answer myself and the question I would pose to you today is this; is it really a sacrifice if I receive back more than what I gave up? Is it really a sacrifice if what I am given back far exceeds the value of what I sacrificed?
My “sacrifice” of moving 27 times in 10 years for the One who has taken on all of hell for me, the return on my sacrifice is far greater. My “sacrifice” of not having enough money to go to McDonald’s often but now I have children that are raising their children to follow God, the return on my sacrifice is far greater. My “sacrifice” to make ourselves vulnerable to the hurts of others, to have God give me a wife that said “until death do us part” and meant it, the return on my sacrifice is far greater.
My “sacrifice” to drive a vehicle that many would reject, yet I have a God who has promised to never leave me or forsake me, the return on my sacrifice is far greater. Our “sacrifice” of not having our own home ends ultimately with the reward of receiving a home built by Jesus Himself, is far greater. My “sacrifice” of following after God even when everything told us it was time to quit, doesn’t even come close to what God has in store for us…. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9
I think Jim Elliot said it best when he said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.”
So the question I pose is this: Can we really call it a sacrifice if I receive back much more than what I gave up? Is it really a sacrifice if what I am given back far exceeds the value of what I sacrificed? I would contend that it is not.
I think Paul felt the same way when he writes…. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17
My sufferings or sacrifices now mean that I can share in His glory; I will make that trade any day!!
By the way, my daughter Heather is alive and well. She is married and has given us 5 of our 16 grandchildren; her husband and family are actively involved in their local church. She and her husband love each other more than anything, except their God. It has been worth any “sacrifice” God has asked of us!