There is something about sacrifice that make a gift more precious. Hand carved wood, a precious antique saved through generations, lovingly tended to give to you. The expensive item you had in mind and never thought you would get. A sacrifice in love means so much more. David, the man after God’s heart, knew this:
Now Araunah said to David, “… Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yoke of the oxen for wood. All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king…” Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
2 Samuel 24: 22-25
My gut tells me this is an important facet of God’s character. He is not pragmatic like we are, trying to get to an end goal by any means necessary, regardless of the cut corners. A part of me would have taken Araunah up on his offer. But how can it ever be a sacrifice if it costs me nothing?
Today, we don’t offer God sacrifices as the Hebrews did under the old covenant. We pay a higher price: laying down our own lives, rather than the lives of animals. But in laying down our lives, we don’t hope to atonement for our sins, but rather we lay it down in faith that he is our sufficiency and fights our battles, and it is never more precious than when we are in the midst of calamity. The storms only add to the value of what I give to God. In those seasons, I have an opportunity to pay a higher price.
But He sees the worth, the precious nature of my struggles against the Goliaths in my life. Even when it is not yet won, he still places high value on the battle—so much so that he is not anxious for me to leave, even though I might feel like a failure, unlovable, but I am his. Even before I gain the ground that surely is mine through Christ, he is working to redeem my place of despair. He works and he works and eventually, somehow, I begin to see things the way he does.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor (or, trouble) a door of hope. Hosea 2:14
The very land that is so long desolate, he redeems and makes fruitful. This is what he wants from me: not to take my life back up again, but to persevere and see his love at work in the trouble, transforming it into a door of hope. In the wilderness, I have no choice but to call on him. There is no other help that can move that deeply in me. Only him. In his eyes, this time is priceless and essential for the good he works in me.
This place slowly becomes precious to me, too, as I yield to his hand. I begin to see the unraveling of the web that holds me fast. Slowly, slowly, reality transforms. No, he does not always rush to deliver me. But then it happens— he makes all things beautiful in its time—Now it is time. ~ Joni
Your Turn: Are there sacrifices that you need to give the Lord? Can you see Him transforming your life as you persevere through the trouble? What things in your life is He making beautiful? We’d love to hear from you. ~ Breath on Paper