Renewed by sacrifice

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t wait to relax with the sweet, clean, Christian romance novel I was already halfway through. I was dying to know how physical therapist Avery and NHL athlete Kenton finally end up getting together in Crossing Center Ice. However, other priorities took precedence.

First, I crawled out of bed and headed downstairs to work out. When the twins joined me, I switched gears to PE teacher mode and queued up an exercise video for us to do together. Even my morning devotional time would have to wait until later.

After grabbing a quick breakfast, I pulled out our first read-aloud of the morning—Daring to Live on the Edge. It’s incredible to read how God miraculously met people’s undisclosed needs through the sacrificial giving of others.

Closing that book, I opened our latest Sonlight novel—Under the Egg. The girls and I are captivated by the fictional story of a girl who discovered a lost Raphael painting. This mystery has some unexpected twists with ties to WWII and the Nazis. After reading an extra chapter and tackling our discussion questions, we moved on to math.

Even though we finished our Advanced Algebra lesson with enough time to grab lunch, I wasn’t quite hungry yet. Instead, I finalized our grocery order and scrolled through Instagram. The half-hour flew by.

As the girls prepared lunch, I set up WorldWatch News on our TV. Then we watched the Answers News episode we missed yesterday afternoon.

Our final Sonlight item of the day was God’s Smuggler. It’s a fantastic story of sacrifice—Brother Andrew risked everything to smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain, where they were sorely needed.

As we wrapped up with our final read-aloud, my phone buzzed a message, which I quickly scanned: Could I lead a core group tonight for Community Bible Study (CBS)? Slightly overwhelmed at the idea and anxious to relax with my novel, I moved to the next item on our homeschool agenda—biology. While studying mitosis with the twins, my mind kept drifting to that message on my phone, and my stomach started growling. I was thankful when the lesson ended, and I could grab a late lunch.

While scarfing down some of last night’s leftovers, I finally pulled up the novel I’d wanted to read all day. Before I reached the end of the chapter, my phone pinged again—had I received the message that they needed a core leader substitute tonight? Could I do it? I paused to consider the possibility. Could I?

With a sigh, I stepped outside to clear my head and talk with God. After such a busy day, didn’t I deserve a break? Couldn’t someone else step in? After all, I didn’t even know who was in the group. And it’s my first year as a core group leader anyway. Surely someone more experienced should lead the discussion.

I asked God anyway, Lord, am I supposed to do this tonight? As soon as I voiced the question, I knew the answer. Without hesitation, I sent a message agreeing to lead the group on Zoom tonight.

As soon as the dam of selfishness broke, my heart was full of praise. Song after song came to mind as I walked up our street and back home. Instead of pulling out that novel again, I opened this week’s CBS lesson. I needed to spend time studying the Word before leading a group this evening.

While I read through John 4, Jesus’ words about worship convicted me. Was I worshiping God in spirit and in truth? When the study questions led me to Romans 12:1-2, I was convicted.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

I knew God was calling me to sacrifice my own desires and seek His instead—to allow Him to renew my mind so I can discern His will. Renew—Wasn’t that my word of the year for 2020?

Throughout the day, God had been trying to get my attention as I read to the twins about living sacrificially. How exciting to be able to apply those principles in my life today! Despite my nervousness about leading tonight’s study, I know that I am walking in God’s will. Tonight, I will allow Him to accomplish His work through me.