The 5 Dollar Spiritual Sacrifice

Reading 1 Peter this morning.

These verses leapt off the page:

” As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4, 5 NIV)

What have I offered as spiritual sacrifices? Does it depend on what I consider a spiritual sacrifice or what He views as a sacrifice? 

I don’t know that it’s ever crossed my mind. How can that be? 

I’ve seen things as sacrifice: relationships, jobs, living situations, time, desires, stuff. 

It occurs to me that everything in that list is of this world. Somehow I’ve missed it- spiritual sacrifice- I don’t even begin to know what that looks like in my spirit.

Or do I? 

Fast forward….

 I wrote those notes above in my phone while I was drinking my vente non-fat latte outside of a STBX in downtown Phoenix last week.  Little did I know, God was preparing me for a momentous demonstration of spiritual sacrifice.

In. My. Life.

I’m still processing and trying to understand why and what motivates me towards or away from spiritual sacrifice. This, I have discovered, is a struggle and will be a struggle for a while because I’m trying to come to terms with it. Sometimes, I just want my own way. {alright-most of the time}

I I finished my coffee and started walking back to the hotel. I had noticed that there were more than just one or two homeless folk around the neighborhood. Some walked with purpose, some aimless, some conversed with themselves, and some just sat-as if waiting. For someone. Something. 

I passed by the metro station where a woman and two men and a small dog were sitting. She looked up and called out, “Ma’am, could you spare 50 cents?” I said, “I’m sorry.” Shrugged my shoulders and picked up the pace. She said, “thank you.” {I’m thinking: for what?}

And then, God got right down into the middle of that thought fast and furious.

This was what His world was all about- “If you love me, feed my sheep.” “Sometimes it’s not about feeding them scripture, it’s just about providing for a need.”

I got to the corner. Still arguing with myself and Him. I get frustrated with the duplicitous way my brain works sometimes. I see things from both sides of an argument and am rendered inoperable. This was one of those moments and in the brief crack of time of my next breath, He said, “Go back. Now.” And I’m saying, “How can I do this?” All the while thinking about the subject of my being an enabler. {oh the mind and its workings} He said, “open that wallet and take out a $5 and go back and give it to her.” 

I crossed the street to the opposite corner.

I stopped. 

I looked down at my wallet.

It was true that I didn’t have 50 cents. But, I had so much more in my life than she. I opened my wallet and took out a folded $5.  Thoughts were flying through my head: yes, no, but, what if, why, why me?

Then: “Yes.”

I walked back across the street, down the block to where she sat, now arguing with one of the guys.  I stopped, she looked up. I said “I don’t have 50 cents, but here’s a five.” I pressed it into her hand and said something like “have a blessed day” and turned away before she could see the tears welling up in my eyes. But not before I saw the disbelief, gratitude and fear cross her face in that instant when she said “thank you”. Again.

Who was I kidding? “Have a blessed day.” Really? That was all you could think to say??

Now the reality is this: I didn’t tell you this story to have you verbally pat me on the back in the comments. This isn’t a ‘congratulations, you finally did something outside your comfort zone’ moment. 

This is what I want you to know: I struggled all the way back to the hotel with God. Because I did what He asked of me and I didn’t want to. 

And I felt helpless. 

Over the past few days the realization came to me that this was my spiritual sacrifice. Obedience when I didn’t want to be obedient. Obedience when it grated. Obedience when I actually listened and did what He asked. well, duh Obedience when all the arguments about panhandlers are running amok in my head and I just did not want to do this. {dumb-I know}

The act of submitting my will to His even when I’m not willing. Ohh, that sounds awful now.  To come to understand deep in my gut that He really does mean it when he says “when you do it unto the least of these…”

Please try to understand I have never had a problem saying “Yes” to God when it was actually what I wanted anyway. Do any of us? Of course not.  

Youth camp? I’m there. Teach Sunday school? Sure. Work the nursery? Yep. Donate funds? Absolutely.

It was that pushing and nudging and pleading of the Holy Spirit to my spirit that made my heart skip beats, my skin flush with heat, the arguing with myself and coming to terms with the fact that I’m trying to say “no” to God.  I don’t like myself very much when I’m this way. I’m sure He is saddened by my thoughts as well. He didn’t make me turn around and go back. But, He did make me see it would be impossible for me to live with myself if I hadn’t. This was a crisis moment for me- to subjugate my will to His. And it wasn’t the first.

This was not the go to Haiti as a group to help or send money/clothes/things to missionaries in Africa or support a friend who was going on a mission trip to spread the Gospel.

 This was up close and personal: “Make a choice. Do you love Me? Feed my sheep. This sheep.” It was what He wanted me to do.

I know the five didn’t go far in the world we live in. But maybe, just maybe a seed was planted or a seed already planted was watered. And definitely, I found, hard as it was, it was meant for me. To learn again- spiritual sacrifice = obedience. Peter knew what he was talking about.

 

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