Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Obeying Is Better Than Sacrifice

“What pleases the Lord more:
    burnt offerings and sacrifices
    or obedience to his voice?
It is better to obey than to sacrifice.
    It is better to listen to God than to offer the fat of sheep."
~ 1 Samuel 15:22, NCV ~

It was the Summer of 2010.  As with so many previous years, we had faced plenty of sorrow.  My husband lost his father to a long battle with Emphysema in late January.  Our son's struggles with hemophilia and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had kept him from many days of school.  Our youngest daughter had a horrible school year with some of her sensory issues finally getting diagnosed and a hard fought IEP was eventually put in place.  We were downtrodden and stressed.

We made the commitment to cling to one another over those Summer months and enjoy our time as a family.  This included intentional plans to go camping.  Some of our best family memories over the years had included a tent, a fire and all that come with them.  Over the years we had become well versed consumers of Wisconsin's recreational areas.  Given our appreciation for clean bathrooms, copious activities to keep the kids active, and a site with fully functional electricity and water, we opted for private campgrounds around the state.  It seemed no matter where we went over the years, the kids always wanted to go back to one favorite place -- Evergreen.  

That summer of 2010, we enjoyed some especially wonderful time at Evergreen.  The weather was perfect.  We had a 4 day weekend.  The swimming was phenomenal.  The croquet had us in tears of laughter.  And there was this campsite...

When special needs came into our lives, it seemed our ability to dream as a family left town, except where that silly campground was concerned.  The majority of Evergreen had permanent seasonal sites that people made their summer homes.  For the decade we had been camping there, we walked the streets of the campground fantasizing about what it would be like to own one of those permanent getaways.  During our 2010 summer stay, an opportunity to purchase the camper and site of our dreams arose, and we had the financial wherewithal to pay for it.  My husband felt resolute that this was something worthy of investing the inheritance that his father had left him that year.

To our delight, we became the proud residents of Site 348 in our 33 foot Forest River Rockwood trailer, capable of sleeping 10.  The purchase included a previously built deck, large shed and gas golf cart.  God blessed us with lovely warm weather lasting well into September, which is when we closed on the deal.  So, our grateful little family wasted no time enjoying this small slice of heaven that the Lord had graciously granted us.

Over the past 3 years, we had the kids each bring up numerous friends, celebrated holidays, and enjoyed our preciously rare vacation time from Spring through late Fall each year at "the cabin", as it is affectionately known by the kids.  My father spent the last day of his life there and succumbed to an aortic aneurism the next morning.  Board games, yard games, art and craft projects, and fun cooking have all helped us create awesome memories at our Evergreen retreat.  Friendships have been built there.  Books have been read there.  Quiet time alone with the Lord, away from the daily challenges of life, has been enjoyed there.

This Memorial Day weekend, amidst the sobbing tears of a child who struggles with social understanding, we had to abruptly put our dream up for sale.  A consulting job I was expecting to come through by mid-May fell through, and the medical bills had unexpectedly become too mountainous to climb this year.  And this is where God brought us to come face-to-face with the choice between obeying Him and putting our desires first.

I will not kid you, I was a ball of emotions as we headed there for the Memorial Day weekend.  I spent much time talking to the Lord.  Why would He grant us this dream only to rip it away?  This has been another horrible year for our children.  Must they also face this small scrap of simple joy stolen from them?  Father, if this is what you are asking of us, help my heart to accept this.

As the weekend progressed, the Lord met me where I was at.  He reminded me of Abraham putting is son on the altar for love and obedience of Yahweh.  He touched me through my daughter's sharing of a story from  Reckless: Following Jesus to the Point of No Return, where a child fixated with the delight of playing with an upside down skateboard's wheels learns to let go of that pleasure long enough to discover the greater joy of riding it upright.  He comforted me through the whooshing of mighty pines and oaks, as a mother hushes her crying child.  I was able to walk towards submission to God's Sovereign will.

Yes, to obey pleases Him better than sacrifice.  But sometimes, setting aside our dreams and making the sacrifice is the obedience.  My will, our family's will, must give way to His directions if we truly love him more than all else. 

My prayer is that this, more than any little dusty, wooded vacation spot, will leave a permanent imprint upon our children's character.  Watching us do life's most difficult things for love of the only One worthy of our ultimate affection, is an irreplaceable lesson.  And every painful tear will be worth the obedience and sacrifice if it teaches our children to do the same.

PRAY:  Father, help me to lay on the altar anything you ask of me.  May my obedience be a fragrant offering to you and example for the next generation.

QUESTION:  What is God asking YOU to put on the altar?

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the most beautiful posts I have read in forever........praying for you and your family. I really love seeing how your talk is matching your walk. Very enlightening reading- thank you!