Its almost as if I can see him, the old weary warrior, treading decidedly down the road to sacrifice. But there's no cloud on his brow, no fear in his eyes. He doesn't waste his last moments looking for sympathy. He is more concerned for his brothers and sisters in the faith. His words rise on the still summer air, reminding them that there is light behind the grave, a crown beyond the cross.
Paul arrives at the spot where he is to give back his greatest gift. His eyes rise to the clear sky, and its almost as if he can see the face of His Redeemer. The executioners ax descends, but he makes no cry of fear. His last thought springs up with joy at the glorious future before him, and it so absorbs him that the ax looses its terror. He finds his greatest joy in giving back his greatest gift.
And then I see me, so often fearing to give up my self. I'm ashamed.
It's a lesson my Jesus has been teaching me over the last couple weeks (even if it takes being in a plane over the Atlantic to give me a moment to get it in words). Paul's story made it hit home even clearer. It's not just about the receiving...
It was only a few months ago He was asking us to give up one of the gifts we cherished most-- wonderful friends and home in Montana. At times it felt like a big sacrifice-- some days it still does-- but I'm learning... Even more beautiful than receiving a gift is being able to give it back.
It's not in the bestowal of blessings that we receive our greatest joy, or even in the removal of them, but in the willing surrender of them, in the action of giving them back freely and unquestioningly.
Paul gave back more than a home and friends. He gave back life-- in the face of an executioner's ax. And it hardly seemed like a sacrifice because of the joy he felt in giving back.
Are we willing to give back life and all it entails-- even in the face of an executioners ax?
Jesus, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the beautiful gifts you have given me. But even more, I thank you for the privilege of being able to give them back. Your greatest gift is found in giving.
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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Hands Open. Heart Full.