Put on a happy face

Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. {Matthew 6:16-18}

I have had a gloomy face on.

As I mentioned yesterday, God has told me that this year will include sacrifice. One of those sacrifices was my iPhone. Now honestly, there are children starving, people going without proper health care and women enslaved in horrific conditions; all situations far worse than me not having an iPhone.

I get that.

This is still hard for me. Relationships I have built online through Twitter, Facebook and blogging are more difficult to maintain without the ease of the internet in my pocket. A sense of disconnect and loss has dwelt in my mind over the last month.

And I’m bored.

We received some money for Christmas, and I have toyed with the idea of purchasing an iPod Touch.

I can put it away – I’m more distracted on the computer than I was on my phone – It won’t cost anything each month

Yet, something stops me.

::

Have I had a good attitude about it? No.

Frankly, I vacillate between pride over being so obedient and envy that others aren’t being asked to make the same sacrifice.

My face was definitely green as I sat in a room on New Year’s Eve with three people playing on their iPads. Seeing other people’s Instagram pics on Facebook and Twitter reminds me of how much fun I had capturing a moment and sharing it with others. And I really want to play Words with Friends!

I may have thrown a minor tantrum last week; OK a major tantrum.

Sacrifice is not fun.

Then I heard this:

God is not impressed with your sacrifice.

Huh? I thought at least it would put me on the A-list. A lot of other people were impressed with it.

It’s not about what I possess, it’s about what possesses me.

I’ve been so focused on the sacrifice that I have lost sight of the One I sacrificed for.

And all God asked of me was a phone.

::

Abraham was asked for a son. His promised son. His only son.

Faithfully, Abraham obeyed the word of the LORD, to the point of placing his son on the altar and raising the knife above him. How could he do this?

He loved God above all else.

We are not far from the kingdom of heaven when we understand that to love God is more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.

When I love God, nothing He asks of me is too much. I feel like this is simplistic, but it’s biblical. He carries me through all situations, guides my feet on all paths and provides for my needs at all times.

Who am I to begrudge Him an iPhone…or question why others don’t have to give up theirs?

For those of you who think this is all shallow and materialistic, I’m sorry to be harping on the subject. I fully realize that it’s a minor thing to be upset about, but the bigger picture of the situation is hitting me hard. Because there are times in life where the sacrifice God asks of us is not just a phone; it’s a family member, it’s a plan, it’s our life.

By teaching me these lessons in the small things, He is building a foundation for trusting Him in the future with much more.

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16 thoughts on “Put on a happy face

  1. oh lissa. . .me too. me too.

    “Frankly, I vacillate between pride over being so obedient and envy that others aren’t being asked to make the same sacrifice.” this is where i am with my life right now. my spiritual pride tells me that my obedience to Christ should have ‘changed’ or ‘softened’ my beloved. every time i see a sparkling diamond on another’s finger i ask ‘why’. ‘why them and not me?’ ‘why must i face the pain while everyone else gets joy?’

    ((sigh))

    you are right. . .our sacrifice doesn’t impress God. it doesn’t even hold a candle to the Cross. . .yet for some reason we seem to think when we make a huge sacrifice blessings are obligatory. and they aren’t. sometimes those blessings are just the peace that continues to follow in our heart despite everything crashing around us. . .

    love you. . .

    • “sometimes those blessings are just the peace that continues to follow in our heart despite everything crashing around us…”

      If nothing else, Lauren, the painful situation you’re currently going through has taught you a very important lesson. Praying for peace and a comforting balm for your aching heart today, friend. You are loved.

  2. So, I’m kinda bummed that this post wasn’t about fasting. Not that I’m looking for fasting info or anything. But, fasting is just one of those things I’ve honestly never done precisely because of the fact that I feel that people like to fast as a badge of honor of their piety. So, I’ve never done it. And that sounds really childish and immature, doesn’t it? Why the actions of others need to influence mine is a little bit juvenille! Anyway, I was hoping you could kick my butt in gear about fasting. Maybe another time….sigh. :)

    But, in regard to your post…I’ve been thinking a lot about loving others lately and how hard it can be for me because I get so easily frustrated and annoyed. It’s easy for me to get on my high horse. And then, I think about Jesus. He never sinned. He did everything for me. And He loves me despite my sinfulness. He made the sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice, when I was still a sinner. So, how I can have the nerve to complain about someone’s “attitude problem” is a bit silly. When I get the grumps, I think about it from His perspective, and realize I have no right to the grumpies. And like Paul says, we should rejoice in those trials. (Um, this response is a total rabbit trail because I’m still half asleep; just sayin’!)

    • There’s so much to chew on in your comment. :) I like it. Regarding fasting, I have never really done much fasting myself. A couple of times I’ve joined in on a fast with my church, but didn’t really commit to it and wasn’t sure what benefit God got from me not eating. I know P. Steve has done some fantastic sermons (aren’t they all) on this topic, and I’d love to look into it further at some point. Maybe that will be one of the things associated with sacrifice for me this year. I know Jesus assumes we will fast as part of the life of a disciple. Food for thought (pun unintended). And the loving others thing, definitely hard. To quote P. Steve again, he always said that if someone said they were in ministry because they love people they’re lying. It’s hard to maintain a love for people, especially when you’re in ministry. It’s our love for God, our gratefulness for His grace and mercy, and our obedience to Him that helps us to love people. Looking at things from His perspective is a fantastic way to realign ourselves to Him and His purposes. I like your rabbit trail, Keri! :)

  3. Melissa, you honestly captured what we all go through in these situations. I know I have been so upset before that I was being compelled to do something by God and another person got a choice. You’re so right though, it always comes back to love and who has our heart. Thanks for the great post.

  4. Minor tantrums and gloomy faces are ok as long as the heart is good. Obviously yours is. Learning day by day. Still not easy. Chin up soldier :) God Bless

  5. i know how you feel. i had to let go of my computer last year. (well i actually ran over my laptop… and decided to save rather than buy another computer). i haven’t had a computer for a YEAR now. all my blog posts are written on my handy-dandy blackberry. can’t wait till i finally have a computer once again!

  6. “Frankly, I vacillate between pride over being so obedient and envy that others aren’t being asked to make the same sacrifice.”
    I can relate to this feeling so well.
    I understand your feeling of disconnect. God has been pulling me away more and more from the internet and I really struggle with that, because I was just getting to know people. However, my desire is Him, so I’m trusting. (my one word)

    • Good word! :) And, I hope that as we feel ourselves disconnecting from the internet in general, you and I continue to remain in contact…because I’m glad to have met you. :)

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