Real sacrifice does not give something up so I can get what I want in return. Real sacrifice does not put expectations on the Lord to get back anything at all. Real sacrifice is an act of love and obedience to the Lord that surrenders that which one sacrifices along with trust that God has a plan far beyond anything we can imagine or conceive of ourselves.
In, fact, real sacrifice recognizes that our human understanding and vision of what God might do with our sacrifice does not come anywhere close to what the Creator of the universe actually intends in the grand scheme of things. Speaking of which, we humans tend to see sacrifice in a human context – in the context of the fleshly world around us. Real sacrifice so lets go that it opens the door and paves the way for the Lord to use the sacrifice for His eternal purpose – for His ultimate glory.
When the man I married abandoned me two years ago, I knew exactly what I wanted back when I gave my sacrifice to the Lord. I wanted a husband delivered from the bondage that was destroying our lives, and a marriage that was so healed we could serve in ministry together and share the blessings of the Lord for the rest of our days. I could not have imagined what God had in store as He took the sacrifice I offered Him.
What He told me some time after is that He wanted me to lay down my life for the man I married, to love God more than him, and to desire His salvation, healing, deliverance, and relationship with God above anything I could possibly want for myself. He told me that if I really loved my husband, this would be what I sought most.
My sacrifice came in parts. First, I had to release the man I married and the marriage to the Lord. Then, I had to release the expectations I placed on the sacrifice. Ultimately, I had to walk at such a level of godly love and forgiveness that I would want more than anything else that my husband would come to know and trust the Lord and live out His purpose for His life as my number one priority for him.
After some time passed, I came to a realization. God had put on my heart that when my husband looked back at our marriage and at me, that he would not see the marriage at all – but that he would see Jesus. That meant no matter what he had done, how he had hurt me, how he had treated me, and how he had left me, that I would need to forgive him, love him with God’s agape love, and seek his forgiveness for every way in which I fell short in responding to his shortcomings.
When I did this, when I let go of all my expectations, when I lay down my dreams and vision for our future, when I wanted above all else to see God’s best in his life even if it did not involve me, it happened. The Lord was able to take my sacrifice and work a miracle out of it.
Just days ago, I received a goodbye letter from the man who is no longer my husband. With my new husband, Jesus, in a shower of tears, I read the letter. I will not repeat the words, but I will only say this.
I thank God that He took my sacrifice, and that He taught me how to lay down my life. The man I had wanted to spend my life with will get to spend the rest of his with the Lord in what I believe will be at a level of intimacy and relationship he never dreamed possible. I have seen but a seed of this, but I believe the harvest will come.
Through my act of sacrifice and my decision to walk in love and forgiveness, and to repent for all I had done wrong, the lost sheep I married did not see me and the marriage at the end of the day.
He had looked back – and seen the love of Jesus Christ.
I did not get what I had wanted. I got what God wanted. And I love the Lord too much not to want the desires of His heart above my own. Best of all, He is teaching me to lay down my own desires and to share His.
I did not get my Isaac back. But what I got was a glimpse into the eternal purpose of God, and the reward of knowing that in His purpose God was able to use me to help bring a lost sheep home. Every sheep takes a different amount of time to come home, but I praise God if through my sacrifice God brings the sheep I married just one step closer to His open, ready, waiting, merciful, loving arms.