I intended to write this from high in the Andes Mountains. I was at a conference in a mountain town of about 60 thousand. Time conspired against me. Or maybe it was divine intervention that slowed me down.
I learned something about sacrifice in the past several days. It was one of those observation lessons. I may have sacrificed something by traveling to 4 different places in a three-week period; but compared to what I saw, my little bit of sacrifice was nothing at all. Half of my travel was by land, the other half by air. When I was traveling by land, I was in an air-conditioned, smooth-riding vehicle. The little walking I had to do was for short distances. I slept in a comfortable bed. I had good meals. All I really "lost" was a little sleep and time with my wife and daughter.
But I saw men and women who paid the price to be in two of the conferences in which I participated. Some traveled precarious roads in busses that are famous for their unpredictable, and at times unsafe, trips. Some of them traveled for 35 grueling hours to be fed the word of God. Some walked great distances. All stayed in housing that provided basic shelter, but little else.
One man I taught in a conference I led last week stands out in my mind. He is a fisherman. He has to get up every single day before 4 so he can get to work by 5. Yet there he was, showing up for the conference every night at 7. I did not feed them anything more than a soft drink and cookies. He stayed with us till 10, before he and the rest of the group left together for their 2-hour ride back to their houses. That means he got to bed at midnight, was up at 4, and back with me at 7. He told me he could do it every day, if it meant growing in his faith.
So I had to ask myself, "When is the last time I was willing to live on 3 or 4 hours' sleep and no food to glorify the Lord?" When was the last time you were willing to take a 35-hour trip for the glory of God? What sacrifice will you make this next week? When you attend your worship services, will you have heating and cooling at your disposal? Will your pews be contoured and prepared to make your experience a delightful one? Will you even think it was worth sitting there while someone struggled to break through the barnacles the world attached to your soul, and feed you a half cup of the word of God? [Yes! Half a cup! Because too many of us get full too quickly for a full meal of the word.] How many meals have you missed so that you could feed from the Master's table?
Thank God for the sacrifices my Latin American brothers and sisters are willing to make to be fed! These men and women embodied some of Romans 12: 1--the living sacrifice. They seem to better understand what "the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil. 3:10)" means. May we be humbled and so ready to sacrifice for Christ's glory!