Our church sponsors a Boy Scout troop and many of my friends have sons who participate, so this Memorial Day weekend has taken on a new significance for me recently.
On the Saturday before the holiday each year, my Facebook wall fills with pictures of families placing small American flags on the graves of soldiers throughout cemeteries in our county. They call this event Flags for Vets and even just from the pictures, I love it. I love how families are teaching their sons to value service, sacrifice, and bravery.
At first it seems a little unselfish for busy families at the hectic end of the school year, who are likely buried under a calendar packed full of graduations and parties, to take a Saturday morning to honor those who have died. Maybe it’s hot. Maybe they missed out on other activities in order to participate.
And yet, considering the sacrifice these soldiers made—to fight and serve our country’s armed forces in order to defend us—then surely the setting aside of a Saturday morning and walking among headstones and grave plots to place a flag doesn’t seem like much too give in return.
Is it really much different in our service of Christ? How easy it is to feel sometimes like the sacrifices we make for Him should merit something. We feel a little proud of ourselves perhaps when we reject sin or give up something we want so we can give to another or set aside a Saturday morning to serve our community and minister to the least of these.
But Christ gave everything for us, His very life laid down in painful sacrifice so we could be free from the inevitability of hell and the prison of sin.
Thus, my verse for the week focuses on Jesus’ sacrifice for us and reminds us to love others in return. It seems a fitting way to remember the responsibility we bear in order to honor the service of others.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
My house really isn’t that big, so it’s a little surprising that my daughters can lose me in it. And yet, it happens. I’ll be in the room with my youngest daughter and then I leave to switch over the laundry or put something away in another room. It’s not long before I hear the shuffle of her feet as she quickly searches for me in one room and then the next.
She doesn’t search long before she assumes the worst–that I’ve abandoned her and left her all alone in the house. I can tell just by the sound of her voice that she’s standing at the back door and crying for me.
Of course, I would never abandon her. So, I call out her name as loudly as I can, reassuring her that I’m still here. Her crying pauses as she listens closely to my call. Then after just a few seconds of this “Mommy Marco Polo,” she follows the sound of my voice to the one room she didn’t think to look in. When she sees me, her face lights up for a moment and then she falls into my arms, crying for just a few seconds more as if to tell me how frightening it was to lose sight of me.
Sometimes in the everyday busyness and chaos of life, we can lose sight of God. We are walking with Him and suddenly we notice that He’s taken another path, and we’re no longer by His side. Maybe a life crisis or tragedy interrupts our communion with Him and we can’t seem to find God through the darkness we’re in.
It’s so comforting to me that God never really abandons us. He doesn’t head out the door of our hearts and leave us all alone. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV) and Brother Lawrence wrote, “You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we think.”
Just like my daughter finds me as I call to her, we can also follow God’s voice to safety and reunion with Him and His purposes for us.
John 10:3- says:
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
Sometimes our Shepherd opens the gate and calls out our name so that we’ll follow Him to a new place. At first, we may think we’ve been abandoned when we no longer see our Shepherd by our side. But, He’s simply leading us out and He’s issuing a truly personal call for us to join Him.
He knows you, His precious sheep, and He has called you by your name. God not only loves the whole world, He loves you. He not only died for everyone, He died for you. He not only has the whole world in His hands, He has your world in His hands.
Because of His personal care for us, we don’t have to fear abandonment. We don’t have to fear any circumstance in our life, any tragedy, any deficit, anything new, anything from our past. God tells us, “Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
So, how do we succeed in this “Spiritual Marco Polo?”–this search for God in the dark places of life? We know His voice from the time we’ve spent with Him, so even when we cannot see Him at work in our lives, we can hear His call.
This takes effort on our part. It is a discipline to make time in our busy, fast-paced lives to focus on our Savior. A.W. Tozer wrote, “God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age. It is well that we accept the hard truth now: The man who would know God must give time to Him! He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance.”
We might grow in our faith a little when we listen to Christian speakers or read Christian books or take notes on the sermon on Sunday mornings, but only time spent in God’s presence, meditating on His Word to us in the Bible, really teaches us the sound of His voice.
We can argue that we’re too busy to study the Bible. Our work schedule is too hectic to allow for significant time in prayer. Our kids are too loud for us to spend any time in meditation. Yet, the time to learn the Shepherd’s voice is before darkness. Then, when we cannot see His face, we can still distinguish His voice and respond to His call.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King