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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Secret Sacrifices

I boiled a pot of water yesterday, and then realized I didn't need it after all for cooking. What a waste. I sighed as I let it cool on the stove.

Doesn't it seem like life is like that pot of water? You try to do something good, and no one notices that you've done it -- or worse, there's a negative consequence! One of my favorite sayings is *No good deed goes unpunished.* :-) It's discouraging, and you may wonder why you bother when it won't make a difference.

And yet...

As I finished preparing dinner, I started thinking about that pot of water. Once it had cooled, the water looked just the same in the pot as before it had boiled, but it was now sterile -- in a mysterious and invisible way, that water was now *superior* to unboiled water.

Similarly I believe that those secret sacrifices we make may make more of a difference than we realize. Those sacrifices honor God, if nothing else, and may even be seen by Paul's *great cloud of witnesses* (Hebrews 12:1-2). I believe that everything we do for right motives, no matter how insignificant or seemingly without result, is accepted -- no effort is ever wasted. Those secret scars of the heart, that no one sees, that bleed without ceasing -- they are all observed and counted.

I was reminded of the line *they also serve who only stand and wait,* and looked this up on google. This line comes from John Milton's poem "On Blindness," and seems fitting for this discussion. We serve God, not because God needs to be served, but because He is worthy, and we take pleasure in acknowledging this.

On His Blindness

WHEN I consider how my light is spent
E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, least he returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.

John Milton (1608–1674)


Travis said...

I suppose this is similar to the saying, "no man is an island unto himself." And I suppose that there is truth in "there is no wasted effort, just effort that is wasted." Every single thing we do effects how our lives play out.

I was vividly reminded of this when I was a cop in the field arresting people. We do choose our own course, and that course is reflected by the simple decisions.

I’m intrigued by the idea of parallel universes. You know, how each decision we make takes our lives in a different direction, just like a fork in the road. There are multiple realities, each one triggered by a different choice or action? You know what I mean? Of course, that discussion is just for fun, because it would deny God’s sovereignty, and I would never do that on purpose.

Avily Jerome said...

Hey Amy!

I'm really enjoying the way you take a seemingly commonplace occurrance and find an application for it! Way cool!

Travis- I totally agree! Not that I think there ARE parallel universes, but it is interesting to think how you'd be different if you did this instead of that. Like in the movie Sliding Doors- very interesting concept!

Avily Jerome said...

Thanks for adding to my story on my blog! I love it! :)

Krista Phillips said...

Very good post!

Love the boiled water analogy! I've always LOVED the part of the Bible where it talks about being refined like silver.

Sometimes it takes pain, suffering, heartache, and a lot of hard work but we come out better for it!