A Living Sacrifice

Recently I came across these verses while reading my Bible:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
- Romans 12:1-2

I read them several times in a row. God wants me to present my body as a living sacrifice. I have heard these verses preached and taught many times.  A living sacrifice is much more than a one-time offering. It is daily giving my life over to Him over and over again. This is God asking for every part of my life. Could He ask for anything more?  Should He expect anything less?

On a “normal” day I am a stay-at-home-mom. My husband goes to work and I take care of my daughter and my home. It’s easy to feel unimportant as a homemaker. After all, I used to do these same things and hold down a full-time job as a teacher - a worthy calling. But God has now allowed me to stay at home each day. Do I offer my life as a stay-at-home-mom to the Lord? Is my life at home holy? Am I living in His perfect will? When I live my “normal” days in sacrifice to the Lord each small task suddenly has so much more meaning. I keep my home clean and organized because the Bible tells me to do things “decently and in order” and because I am to be a “keeper at home.” I plan menus, shop for groceries, and make meals because I am called to love my husband, to honor him, and to respect him. I know that he feels loved and respected when he comes home to a clean home and an appetizing dinner. Cooking is not something I am very good at and it’s definitely not something I do for the sake of enjoyment, but cooking is a way to express love to my husband, so I do it!

When I give my life as a mom to the Lord I see myself parenting with a purpose. I want to please God in the way that I am raising my daughter. I want her to see in me what is good, and acceptable and what is God’s perfect will. So in sacrifice to God I spend time teaching her, training her, helping her build her character. She is learning verses and learning how to pray. I teach her to clean up her own messes and to be kind to others. It would be easier to turn on the TV each morning and let it babysit her while I do my “chores” - but where is the holiness and sacrifice in that?

Lately I have had some days that have been less than normal. I have experienced both emotional and physical struggles. I am recovering from surgery. I am recovering from loss. How can I live these days in sacrifice to the Lord? Surely I could argue that I have sacrificed enough, but God wants me to be a living sacrifice. Even on hard days I am meant to wake up and give the day to Him. How can I serve God on this hard day? How can I be a blessing to others today? Today I spent some extra time in prayer for the women in my life who are experiencing their own trials in infertility and pregnancy loss. There are so many of them! God, don’t let me act as if I’m the only one hurting! Remember these women. Heal their bodies. Give them children of their own. Perhaps I can be a blessing to someone in word or deed today. I want to be the wife my husband deserves and the mother my child needs, regardless of my pain.

As I heal from my recent surgery, I am learning that the physical healing continues each day. With time my body gets stronger. The more days that pass, the stronger my body is.  My emotional healing is a little different. I must give it to the Lord each day. When I woke up this morning I had to choose to either forfeit the progress God made in my emotional healing yesterday or to renew it by giving my pain to Him yet again. Some days are easy due to the extra support I receive from my family and friends. Some days it seems like it would be easier to wallow in self pity, to stay in bed and cry, to sink into my pain instead of moving forward and growing. If I present my body as a living sacrifice to my Lord I must include my emotions and my pain. I must accept His healing and allow Him to continuously work in my life and in my heart. That doesn’t mean that I am never to cry and it doesn’t mean that the sadness disappears. It just means that my focus is not on my pain, but on the One who can deliver me from it! My focus should be on serving Him and serving others, so that my trial will not be wasted.

This morning I remembered something I learned from my mother when my husband and I were dating. We had been together for about a year when he decided we should break up. It was devastating to me. I just knew we were supposed to marry each other and he decided he wasn’t so sure about that. I cried bitter tears night after night asking God to help me understand why. My mother and I had made plans to go on our annual trip to Six Flags that same week. I was looking forward to the time away with her, hoping that it would help me feel better just to get away and have fun. She called me a day or two before we were to leave and said, “Honey, I wondered if you might like to go visit your grandparents instead. Your grandpa has been very sad and depressed since his brother died and he sure could use some cheering up. Sometimes the best way to heal yourself is to be a blessing to someone else. I think your grandpa could sure use a visit from you and I think it would do you good to go focus on helping him feel better. What do you think?” My first inclination was to say no. How could it help either my grandpa or me for the two of us to be miserable together? But I knew that she was right and besides, even Six Flags wouldn’t have cheered me up at that time.

Of course my mother was right. My grandparents were so glad to see me and there was something about being there to encourage my grandfather that really helped some of my own pain go away. The important thing was that I shifted my focus from myself to someone else. I chose to minister to my grandfather rather than sit in my own sorrow. I knew that my mom’s advice was from the Lord when just a few short days after returning home from that visit my grandfather passed away suddenly. I thanked God that He had provided me with the opportunity to see my grandpa and make some wonderful memories just days before he left this world. That experience has really helped change the way I see and respond to my own pain. God solidified in my mind the importance of doing things for others, even in the midst of my own storm.

I think being a living sacrifice comes from a life of service. In serving others you are serving God. In blessing others you are blessing Him. I often struggle with seeing only my own needs and I am praying that God will continue to teach me to see the needs of others so that I may better serve Him by serving those around me. It’s so unnatural for us as sinners to focus on others rather than our own selves. It goes against our sinful nature. In considering these verses from Romans I feel so insignificant! I so often fail at this idea of sacrificing my life daily. My God is still working on me and I hope that I will always continue to grow in His grace - no matter what is going on in my life!

Lord, help me to see through Your eyes. Allow me to shift my focus from myself to the world around me. Let me live a life of sacrifice to You, a life that is pleasing to You. Help me to grow into a thoughtful and caring person who easily meets the needs of those around me. Let me be an example to my daughter of a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to You.” Heal my body and my heart and allow me to be used in someone else’s life as a result of the testing I have endured in You. Please use me Lord!


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