Our breakfast table conversations are quite interesting. They range from the sublime to the ridiculous. And a lot of points in between. This morning it was one of those “in between” times.
Judy and I began to recall the investment in our lives that our parents made. Judy’s mom was instrumental in seeing that Judy got the musical training that has shaped her life so much. Judy recalled the joy of taking the bus to downtown Kansas City to go to one of the main music stores to buy some new piano music. Then she would head home to sight-read the difficult music. As a result of the sacrifice of her parents and Judy’s joy in her musical journey, she has been an amazing accompanist for decades, and a teacher to hundreds of students through the years.
My folks also sacrificed for us kids. Whether it was music lessons, educational trips, or college, they somehow made it happen. For me, it was spending several years in the Texas Boys Choir, and traveling for six weeks in Europe on a concert tour. I learned through that amazing process what it takes to be excellent…how much work is necessary to achieve at a high level. It is a lesson I have tried to apply and teach for most of my life. I have yet to figure out how my folks paid for that.
By the way…our families were not financially in the upper class. I doubt if we were even middle class. In fact, by most standards, we could have been called “poor.” Our parents were working class people who did whatever it took to provide for us kids. We didn’t have a lot of “stuff,” that’s for sure. But our parents made sure we had what was the most important…love, faith, and the critical extras that would serve us for all our lives.
One thing Judy and I noted in our morning conversation. Our parents never talked of the sacrifice they were making. They never came back with things like, “If you only knew what I’ve given up for you.” They never made us feel bad about the good things they were providing. They wanted us to have the joy, and not the guilt.
Why am I sharing this? There may be times in your life…with your family, with your ministry…that you will have to sacrifice for others. If you do so, try to do it in such a way that they have the joy of what you provide, and not carry a guilt for having it. Yes, there are times that others need to know that opportunities come at a price. But that should only enhance the value of what is received, not bring on any guilt.
I think of our salvation, provided by the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus. His death on the cross brings us today’s joy…and purpose… and value. While we are not worthy of such a sacrifice, we can rejoice in what the Lord has done and is doing.
Jesus saw the sacrifice as a joy. No… not the cross and all of its agony… but the result of the sacrifice. The writer of Hebrews wanted us to see that when he wrote of Jesus in Hebrews 12:2:
Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame…. (NLT)
You may find you need to give up something for those whom God has placed in your life, whether it is your children or even your co-laborers in ministry. Do it with joy.
Then… watch what the Lord does with your sacrifice.
Dr. Ron Harris, President