Friday, November 14, 2014

Sacrifice and Thanksgiving



Photo Courtesy of Felixco, Inc/freedigitalphotos.net
On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” So David went up, as the Lord had commanded through Gad. When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.
Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”
“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”
Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. Your Majesty, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.”
But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
2 Samuel 24: 18-25 NIV

As the year 2014 becomes history in the next few weeks, we; my family, could look back and focus on what we have lost this year. 

What have we sacrificed? 

  • We followed God’s call to move west, and left behind our family and friends. 
  • We left doctors, teachers and therapists who knew our daughter and her long history of challenges and triumphs. 
  • We left a home that had seen us through heartache and loss, surgeries and cancer, and warm gatherings of family and friends. 
  • We left “being in the system”…yes, the coveted governmental system, which helps alleviate some of the burdens that come with parenting a child with multiple disabilities.
  • I left a job I loved, and now have to be re-licensed in a new state, and don’t have any guarantee that I’ll love working in the schools here as much as I did in Wisconsin.
  • We left cheaper groceries.  YES!  The groceries are more expensive here, very little can grow in this high desert climate, so the groceries cost more to be transported here.

I could sit here and list all that we have sacrificed as a family this year; all because we were called by God to step out of our comfort zone and follow him into a new territory; assuming a new trajectory for our journey through life on this earth.

But, as God shows us in the passage from 2 Samuel, we are not called to give something which costs us nothing.

God asks us to give him our BEST!  Our FIRST offerings…not our left overs.

He didn’t expect the Heftys to move 1800 miles from our family and friends and not feel it.   

He didn’t expect us NOT to change. 

God wants us to change, to grow, and to depend on him. 

Then, I look around and I see all that God has GIVEN to us this year.   

  • A beautiful new home.
  • A sunnier climate (which bodes well for my SAD that I get during winter months).
  • An amazing school for our daughter with staff and friends that have already surrounded her with love and acceptance.
  • A fantastic church with music so rocking they offer ear plugs for the congregation, and a small group from church with whom we have bonded quickly as we explore God’s Word on a more intimate level one night a week.   

Are you kidding me, God?  We gave a little to you, and you have returned our offering to us in bountiful ways.
Which takes me to Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday has almost always been Thanksgiving.  
But when I’ve celebrated it in the past, I haven’t had a year like this year.  As I read Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, (accessible on-line at http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm), I can relate so closely to his sentiment and intent:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
Lincoln goes on to acknowledge that the country has been engaged in a civil war, but that there have been many blessings as well such as a steady increase in population and industry.
They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
Yes, God has been merciful on us another year.  He has loved us and comforted us and been our strength; our Rock. 

Let’s remember to give thanks for God’s goodness; and give Him the very best of what he has given us.

Pray:  Heavenly Father, I want to follow you, and give you my life as a living sacrifice out of my gratitude for what you have given me.  Help me to show others my gratitude for your love, mercy and sovereignty.  Amen. 

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