The air was cold and it was still dark as my son stepped outside with his bow. It was around 5am and he was headed to a special location he had picked in the woods to wait for the elusive 8-point buck we had seen frequently over the past few weeks. It was a Saturday morning and he could have slept in. But instead he had given up his sleep and his time (and I would even add his comfort…brrr!) to indulge in this pastime we call hunting. He also sacrificed quite a bit of his money to buy the items necessary for this hobby. I am glad he enjoys it and I am rooting for him to find that buck and fill my freezer. But I find it interesting that the time and money he spends on this hobby does not feel like a sacrifice to him because he wants to do it.
You see others who love the sport of running. I mean love it…not merely like it. Have you seen those people? They run in all kinds of weather. They are covered from head to toe on the cold, rainy mornings and wearing expensive, “moisture wicking” shorts and tanks on those hot, humid days. Maybe you are one of them. Many runners sacrifice their time, comfort, and money for this sport. Running is a great sport for fitness, but it takes sacrifice.
There are any number of pastimes, hobbies, and passions that we gladly sacrifice for, aren’t there? We all have favorite activities for which it is a pleasure to sacrifice our time, money, and even our comfort. And, if in the proper balance, these things are wonderful blessings to us. I thank the Lord that most of us have available hours and dollars to participate in these activities. In the not so distant past, people did not have the luxury of extra hours or extra dollars. We are truly blessed!
But I wonder–why are we so unwilling to make the same sacrifices for God?
Do our fellow church members only see our faces at the weekly worship service? Do we always have something else to do when there is something going on at church? Maybe we have even gotten out of the habit of going to church at all. But we need to remember that church was designed to help us to grow and deepen our walk with God.
And many of us say that we don’t have time for prayer and Bible study, and yet, like the hunter or the runner, we could get up early in the morning to do these things. We could carve time out of somewhere to do this…if we really wanted to.
We now have Saturday evening services in many churches because people don’t want to get up on Sunday mornings or perhaps they have some other activity scheduled for that day. Of course, a Saturday evening service isn’t wrong, in and of itself. I realize some people need to work on Sunday and that Saturday evening services are a real blessing to them. I just wonder about the pattern I see to keep pushing God to a more and more convenient time, without a willingness to make a sacrifice for Him.
You see, we find the time, and often the money, to do the things we want to do. We sacrifice our sleep and our comfort for the pastimes and activities that are important to us. Most of us (myself included) do not bring the same willingness and desire to our relationship with God, as we do to our hobbies and favorite activities. Why is that? Why aren’t we as passionate about God as we are about running or hunting or our favorite sports teams? I don’t know the answer to that.
But I do know that the more time you spend with God, the more passionate you become about being with Him. The more you make Him a priority in your life, the more you actually enjoy your time with Him. The more you contemplate how He would respond or what He would do in a given situation, the more natural it becomes to think on Him.
I know that when that alarm goes off at 5am, my son does not want to get out of his warm bed. But he does it because the (possible) payoff is worth it to him. When the runner dons the appropriate clothing and heads out into the elements, he believes the payoff is worth the sacrifice. And often they don’t feel like getting up and going out into the cold, but they do it anyway.
May we bring the same willingness to sacrifice and dedication to our relationship with God. Doing what we should do, no matter what we feel like, realizing that the payoff will be great!