A curious thing happens when you have a lot of Christian Facebook friends: you see a lot of the same Hallmark-card-style pictures going around. And around. A lot.
Pictures like this:
This is a simple way to show a foundational concept: whenever God asks you to give something up, it’s because He’s about to replace it with a bigger and better version.
In this case, a giant teddy bear.But wait–there’s more! Turn in your normal-sized teddy bear today, and Jesus will give you the giant bear!
Some restrictions may apply. Must be eighteen or older to call.
I’m kidding about the bow. But I’m not kidding about this particular idea striking me as a little bit off. If the entire point of God asking us to make sacrifices is for Him to turn around and give us a prize, life seems petty. In that case, sacrifice loses its significance. It’s no longer sacrifice to hand over our hopes, our dreams, our loves–because we know that as soon as we do, we’ll get better. That turns sacrifice into investment, and that makes the entire concept sound…well, mercenary.
What if God asks us to sacrifice? And what if He doesn’t offer replacements?
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, I was fifteen, and I was offered horse. I’d begged for a horse my whole life. But horses eat a lot, we lived in the desert where there’s not much grazing, and my family’s not exactly wealthy. We crunched numbers. We figured we could afford my horse. We said yes. Then my parents figured out a mistake in our numbers; we were off by about $80 a month, and getting the horse went from an exciting prospect to an impossibility. Through my tears, I told God that He could have my dream of owning a horse.
A week later we got a call. Our financial situation changed–by $80 a month. God gave me my horse.
“But that doesn’t illustrate your point at all,” you say. So let me tell you another story.
I went to a two-year Bible college after I graduated high school. I made close friends, invested in relationships, studied like crazy, learned to swing dance, and discovered the
agony joy of exegetical hermeneutics. I counted on four semesters of that thrilling life. Instead, I ran out of money by the end of my first semester. I had no financial aid and couldn’t find a job. Through my tears, I told God that He could have my dream of finishing a Biblical studies degree.
A few months later, I moved all my things back home and found a job in town. God didn’t give me my degree.
And you know what? He didn’t give me something bigger and better to make up for it. I spent the next few months working myself to exhaustion trying to save up enough money to move on. I went to the next step in my life plan: university. And university is great.
But it’s not a giant teddy bear with a red ribbon around its neck.
Because sometimes when God asks me to give up my dreams, He doesn’t give me a teddy bear for them. Sometimes He just gives me Himself, and says, “Am I enough?” Someone recently challenged me to ask: Is God enough? Without His promises, without His blessings, is He enough? It seems like a hard question. But if you think about it, it’s kind of a no-brainer.
The great I Am. The Creator of the universe. The all-powerful, galaxy-breathing God.
What more do I think there is?
….And for those of you who are saying, “This is all very nice, but a theological rant doesn’t quite fit with your theme of facing a fear for every blog post” …God breathed suns into existence, He breathed life into you, and you’re asking Him for a teddy bear. How scary is that? Frankly, this entire concept terrifies me.
Besides–right now, I think God’s asking me for a dream. So today I gave it to Him.