Written Feb 2015: I am a quilt maker. Generally, I embroider a top and then hand-quilt it. Sometimes I find a piece of something else and then get a vision (albeit fuzzy) of how I can use this useless item to make a beautiful quilt. The process takes months, sometimes years, to complete. I stitch through pain and bad lighting and work late into the night when I am in the middle of a project. Once it is complete, I am very pleased with the effort. I have had people tell me that I should sell my quilts. But honestly, there is no way I could sell it and make enough to pay for all of the time, money, and bloodshed that has gone into creating this quilt. The true value of the quilt is only attained when I give it away. It is the sacrifice, born out of a heart of love, that makes the gift priceless. The quilt then leaves its own legacy. A well made, well taken-care-of quilt can last for generations and each person who benefits from it will know the love with which it was made. Who knows how God uses this sacrifice? I don’t. I only know that I was to give it, and through my sacrifice, He can work His redemptive power.
We all do this in some way… the ones that spend hours making beautiful cards for others will see the hearts of those they give them to softened and love pour in. Those who serve in the church, like the nursery workers and the worship team, etc, their sacrifice of time and talent lay the foundation for hearts open to the voice and presence of God. The sacrifice of money to the church expansion will be redeemed in the lives of our children and community. The kindness shown to that hard-to-love co-worker, will be used to grow their hearts (perhaps even three whole sizes!). But are the recipients the only ones who benefit? Is not my life also changed in the process? Aren’t the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) blossoming in me each time I sacrificially offer a piece of myself?
The one person that you would expect not to have to give sacrificially is God. He has access to infinite resources in every area. Yet, He sacrificed. In order for His gift of love to have redemptive power, it had to cost Him something. To redeem is defined as: to gain possession of something in exchange for payment. Payment must be enough to cover the value of the possession. To redeem us, He sacrificed His Son. And for Him to work His plan of redemption through us, it will cost us something too. Recall Ephesians chapter 2: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (1)…But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions (4-5)…For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (8-10). We are God’s handiwork and He has things that He wants us to do. Occasionally He allows us glimpses of His vision. He provides the giftings required and asks us to sacrifice something to see His work completed. Can you hear Him calling you? Will we be like Abraham (Genesis 22:11), Jacob (Genesis 46:2), Moses (Exodus 3:4) and Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10) and answer “Here I am” to His call? Listen quietly for His voice. What is He asking you to do? Each of the above mentioned men responded to His call and as a result changed the world for God. Are we willing to be used by Him to change the world for this generation?