Friday, April 05, 2013

Costly Sacrifice

I'm at that point in my Bible reading schedule where you come to Leviticus. In other words, the point when so many well-meaning Christians fall behind in their plans to read through the Bible. All those skin diseases and offering can be hard to slog through. I can’t say I look forward to Leviticus, but I want to trust that God can and will meet me here. This is, after all, part of His Holy Word--equally as inspired as Romans or Ephesians, John or Psalms.

So as I read last week in chapter 1 about bringing a bull as a burnt offering, I tried to slow down and envision the scale of what’s described. This was not a tiny, neat and clean, no-big-deal sacrifice. Cattle weigh well over a thousand pounds full grown. At the farm where we buy grass-fed beef, to buy a whole one would give you 400 lbs. of beef—and cost you more than $2500!

Think how many people that would feed, for how long! And yet in the burnt offering, it’s all reduced to ashes. You don’t pour out the blood and then carry off the rest for a barbecue. Not even the priests get dinner from it. Every bit goes up in smoke.

“And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD” (Leviticus 1:9).

Imagine the faith this kind of offering would require. To believe that it’s worth it: How does burning up an entire bull really benefit God? You’d be tempted to call it a waste, when you thought of the food, the fortune it represented. (What about the poor, the hungry?) Can’t God just enjoy the smell while we cook it in order to eat it?

But He asks you to come and say—I trust You. I submit to You. I worship You. Everything I have is a gift from Your good and generous hand. You have provided for my needs, so I trust that You will continue to provide. I will obey You when I don’t understand, because I believe that You are God and I am not. I will do things that don’t make sense to me, because I trust that You are beyond the comprehension of my finite mind. I will give up filet mignon; I will forego steaks and ribs and oxtail because I am convinced that the joy of honoring You is better than the pleasures of eating good food. I will lay my savings account, my retirement plan, on the altar because I know that my security can only truly be found in You. I love You—I trust You—I believe You are good—accept my burnt offering. 

He no longer calls me to bring a bull and burn it all up at the altar. But He does call me to say and believe and live all these things. So I pray...

Father, help me to see all I have as undeserved gifts, as things You have entrusted to me and expect me to steward well. Help me trust that You will always, always provide—perhaps not what I want, but always what I need. Help me to agree with You about sin, to choose Your ways and thoughts when they are different from my own. Help me to submit to Your Word, not demand that it submit to my understanding. Help me to let go of the temporary pleasures I crave, believing that walking in fellowship with You tastes better. Help me to put my hope not in future circumstances, not in my own abilities, but in You, my Rock of Refuge, my Redeemer. Give me grace to love You as You have first loved me…to trust You…to taste and see Your goodness and know that You are for me.

And then He responds, through Sarah Young’s book Jesus Calling:
“I am a God who gives and gives and gives. When I died for you on the cross, I held back nothing; I poured out My life like a drink offering.” 
In other words...once again, the reminder that God does not ask anything of me that He has not first done Himself. The offerings, the sacrifices He requires of me are nothing compared to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross!


Stephen Gambill said...

Excellent Amy. Thank you.

Danielle said...

That is such a great point Amy. I never really thought about some of this before.

BTW, what do you think about "Jesus Calling." It's a "hot" book right now, I see it everywhere.

Amy said...

Danielle, I feel kind of "meh" about it. My dear mentor gave it to me a couple of years ago. I have not really gotten into it with any sort of regularity. (Which is not necessarily reflective of the book...I struggle to read ANY of these types of "daily short devotional blurb" book regularly. Just not my style.) There have been a few times when God has used it to reinforce other things I am reading/thinking/struggling through, but it hasn't generally been earth-shattering. Again, though, that might just be me.

Anonymous said...

Amy, not to put on any pressure, but please blog soon! Your blog is my little stress release during the day and I always enjoy hearing what you have to say. I have been eagerly awaiting more to be added to your account of your courtship:) Hope you and your family are doing well.