The Ultimate Sacrifice
I have heard the term, “Ultimate Sacrifice” used many times in regards to one giving their life for another. I often thought of this concept when serving in the military. I would ask myself, “Am I willing to give my life for God, Country, and even those who opposed my viewpoints?” After much prayer and consideration, I came to the conclusion early on that I was willing and would trust God with the outcome.
However, after years of marriage, and having friends and family who are now parents to little ones; I have come to think of “the ultimate sacrifice” in a new light. Sure, I had determined that I could give my life, but what about the life of ones I loved. What if serving meant costing the life of my wife or children (if I had children)? In the Bible, we are told of how God tested Abram’s faith by asking him to give up his son, Isaac. In the end, Abram didn’t hold back. But God also provided another sacrifice. In that moment though, Abram had to trust God’s character. He did not know that God would provide a lamb.
Now, I don’t have children of my own. The closest I can relate to having a child is when we had an exchange student from Germany live with us for five months. In that short time, my wife and I grew to love her dearly. My wife and I have also built strong, lasting relationships with many young people while serving in youth ministry over the years. All of them we have grown to love, and we view them as our spiritual children. Just the thought of losing any of them would be unbearable.
In my last trip to Ethiopia, I had the honor of interviewing a missionary pastor who told us his experience of losing his son. One night while he was preaching about how Jesus has power over death and the grave, he received word that his son had died. The boy was somewhere between one and two years of age. Upon hearing this, the pastor hurried home. There he found his son had been placed in a small coffin. Anguished, the pastor began to cry out, “God, why would He let my son die?” He then questioned, “How could you let this happen when I was just preaching about God’s power over death?”
As he continued to cry out, he heard God respond, “Be patient, there is a reason.” At this word, the pastor began to pray in the room where the child was. After praying for an hour and a half, he said he saw the coffin began to shake. He quickly opened the coffin. There inside the coffin was his son – alive. Just like Abram, this missionary pastor did not know at the time that God was going to spare his son. Instead he chose to trust God, not just with his own life, but even with the life of his son. Recently, there has been a lot of violence in South Sudan, in the same areas where we have supported and trained pastors. During this time, even though it is the holidays, it has been hard to not think of the friends we have made over there. It is difficult because we just want to be there to try and protect them and help them in any way possible – especially during the times we have lost contact with some. Through this experience I have had to learn to just trust God and pray for their safety.
I continually remind myself that He is working in the midst of the turmoil – and can bring good out of a bad situation. We may feel helpless, but He is not helpless. He can restore life into a dead situation. And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain.” Gen 22:14