Sunday, September 20, 2009

Coffee and Sacrifice

First, I'd like to point out that I'm writing this while soaring thousands of feet above the ground aboard a 737 aircraft. I wonder what the Wright brothers would have thought if they knew that their first very primitive flight would eventually lead to such things. The advent of technology provides the average joe with luxuries that are almost silly in their unecessity.

However, I am grateful for the ridiculousness of modern day life because it affords me the opportunity to put down my thoughts, regardless of my location and proximity to solid earth. I have spent significant minutes and hours as of late pondering the concept of sacrifice. True, painful sacrifice. Not just the giving up of niceties that allows us comfort throughout our normal day. I mean the kind of sacrifice in that God asks us to give up everything, to leave behind the normalcy and amenities of Western life in an industrialized nation.

I attended a benefit performance this past Sunday that was raising funds for clean water wells in Africa. This is a strong interest, dare I say passion, of mine because of the seriousness of the lack of clean, sanitized water. Wars are fought over water. Thousands of people die each day from water related illnesses that are so preventable. Entire nations can be devestated with sickness, famine, and war all because of the scarcity of water. During the performance, each audience memeber was charged with a very simple task: drink nothing but water for the next 2 week. With all of the money that is saved from not purchasing soda, wine, beer, tea would be tallied up at the end of the fortnight and then sent to the sponsoring organization for the continuation of the project in Africa.

Simple enough, right? Try it and realize that the sacrifice of something so simple is in reality difficult. I have been drinking tea and coffee and beer and wine since then (although, I did not pay for any of it). The simplicity of needing that boost of caffeine in the morning or the casual drink with a friend after work is suddenly interrupted if you are sacrificing something so simple. I am ashamed of not giving up something so very elementary.

I suppose I am telling you this out of guilt. Yesterday found me picking up Elizabeth Elliot's biography on Amy Carmichael, a missionary in India over a hundred years ago. She decided at about the ripe age of 24 that God had a calling on her life to go to the nations. Twenty-four. Here I am, three years the senior, and I can't even give up coffee for 2 weeks. Its shameful.

I don't understand the concept of sacrifice. Not really. Sure, I may know how to give up the comforts of life sometimes. But could I do it permanently if so called to do so? Can I discipline myself enough to learn to give things up? To be selfless, truly selfless?

I think, like most things, sacrifice needs to be learned. Its most certainly not something that is built into our DNA. It is burning on my soul to begin to earnestly pray for a sacrificial spirit, for a heart that is willing to give up, to let go of all of my nice things. I don't want to get caught up in the worldliness that is rampant in our society. God help me, its the last things I want. There is no permanence, no immortality to the comforts of life. It is all fleeting, here today and gone tomorrow, never to be seen again.

I want my desires to be of things above, of heavenly worth and import. I can only pray that my heart will be changed like Amy Carmichaels. That my flesh will melt off, never to be heard of again. For this, I ask for your prayers.


Doug Arrington said...

I love this thought. And certainly agree with the severity of the clean water issues in many many countries around the world. I think Paul does a good job at describing the two lives of flesh and spirit and how to recognize each in Gal. the end of Ch.5 ..I will certainly keep this in my prayers

Lauralei said...

I think we all need to be asking for prayer on this's not one that I think about often, and in fact, I hardly ever think about storing up treasures in heaven...

Nathanael said...


Don't just write these thoughts down to forget about them. Mull them over. Let them percolate, steep, and ferment, even if you still drink coffee, tea, and alcohol.

Anonymous said...

I too as of late have been pondering the sacrifice of fasting food, yet I too avoid it. We are so spoiled in this country, and know not of sacrifice.