This week in Sunday school, we began a new study on Sacrifice (I co-teach the high school youth Sunday school class that is 98% boys – fun times!). I know often when we hear the word “sacrifice” our minds can often go one of two places. The first being more of an Old Testament view of sacrifice where there was a literal sacrifice placed on the altar. The second being more modern and more “me” focused of things that we often sacrifice, whether it is digital cable television or designer jeans or chocolate or you fill in the blank. Granted during these difficult economic times there are families that have made true sacrifices due to lack of finances but you and I both know that we often throw around the word “sacrifice” (just as we do “love” or “worship”).
Today’s lesson focused on the noise that seems to consume our lives. Often its the things that we intend to help us feel more connected that keep us disconnected from families, our friends, and most importantly our faith. Our lives are surrounded by noise. How many hours of our day are spent in front of the television, on the internet, or plugged into our iPods? Often we may not necessarily be watching TV or actively listening to the music but we just like to have the noise in the background. If you are like most people these days, silence makes you uncomfortable. As a mom of a toddler, I have come to realize that silence often means trouble and I need to go find out what Abby has gotten herself into.
But seriously, out of our 24 hour day, how much of it is spent in quiet? Even if we subtract the 8 hours we are suppose to be sleeping (this of course hoping that we each get the daily recommended hours of sleep) – how much of our 16 waking hours if filled with noise? I’ll be honest, I don’t even like sitting at my desk at work without music playing the background. And at home a TV is usually on somewhere providing background noise (these days its usually Nick Jr).
So why all of this talk about noise? What is the big deal? Let’s take a moment to discuss our prayer lives. We pray and ask for guidance, direction, answers, anything. Yet do we allow God to respond? We complain if we feel like our prayers aren’t answered in a timely fashion or if we feel that God is being silent. But maybe He is answering but we are to distracted to listen. How many times do we forget that prayer is a 2 way conversation?
So this week I challenged the youth (and myself) to be OPEN to listen to God. He is speaking to each of us but we must open up ourselves to be ready to listen. It may not be audibly or though a big billboard with flashing light (though it would be nice sometimes, wouldn’t it?). Often its that still small voice that gives us guidance and direction. Do we allow ourselves to hear it through the noise?
So going back to the whole sacrifice theme, what do you and I need to sacrifice to allow ourselves to be open and hear God’s call? Maybe it means turning off the TV a little earlier at night or getting up earlier in the morning before everyone else is up to enjoy some quiet moments (coffee is allowed). And to take it a step further, when you hear God’s call, will you be ready to answer? What are you willing to sacrifice?
I’ve come to realize that my “Friday Words of Faith” posts aren’t popular or receive a lot of comments and in the end, may even cost me a follower or two (or more) but I have decided that is a sacrifice I am willing to make. My faith and life with chronic illness go hand in hand as I know that I could not make it through life with chronic illness without my faith but I also realize that faith would be nowhere near as deep or as strong has it not been for my experiences with illness. It is my prayer that I can be a vessel through which God can speak and through my life be glorified. I do not want to become a part of the noise and distractions of life. I want to be set apart.
Are you willing to make this sacrifice with me?