Friday, April 17, 2015

Echoes of Sacrifice and Blessing

Like many families, we're big fans of HGTV's Fixer Upper. We love Chip and Joanna, we've got a soft spot for Waco (sic 'em, Bears!), and it's so fun to have a guilt-free show our whole family can watch.

I've never met the Gaines, but Joanna recently shared some of her story via video at  The Gathering Waco - the first ever city-wide worship service held at Baylor's McLean stadium last month.

One of the most fascinating things Joanna shared was laying down her dream of Magnolia Market when she felt the Lord asking her to stay home with her babies. In the video, she describes closing the store doors and crying. In her words, Joanna felt like it was "the end of a dream."
And yet, she heard the Lord also say, very clearly, "Joanna - if you trust me with your dreams, I'm going to take Magnolia further than you could have ever dreamed."

Joanna willingly sacrificed her gift and dream to the call of the Lord that likely didn't make sense in the world's eyes.
And yet now we know the rest of the story.

When worship leader Christy Nockels shared her story with David Mathis on Desiring God a few years ago, (five minutes - SO worth watching) she shared a similar experience. The momentum of her worship band, Watermark, came to an abrupt halt when Christy felt the Lord ask her to "take some time to be a mom" to her two little ones at that time.

It didn't make sense, and it probably brought an onslaught of raised eyebrows from agents and those in the music industry. But in "reluctant" faith, Christy "closed the doors" on touring to be home. 

She says that in laying down her career and all things familiar, "I have watched Him do God-sized things in my ministry that I would have never imagined I would be able to be a part of and do as a mom with three kids."

Christy goes on to say, "The song I write in my playroom as a lullabye for my kids goes on to become an anthem... He loves to do that... He can take the little things in our hearts and homes and amplify them with His glory."

Christy willingly sacrificed her gift and dream to the call of the Lord that didn't make sense in the world's eyes.
And yet now we know the rest of the story. 
Christy's new album to be released this month, April 28

Just last night Corbin and I attended TCU's FCA end of year banquet, and Clint Gresham who plays with the Seattle Seahawks shared part of his story as the keynote speaker. Once again, the trend of sacrifice and blessing continues. Clint was promised a 5th round draft pick out of college by the Houston Texans, a team he dreamed of playing for. The 5th round came and went without the offer. But in the flurry of post-draft offers as a free agent, he felt the Lord's caution to accept the Texans' generous offer, and to go instead with a considerably less offer from the New Orleans Saints. In Clint's words, he "hated" those months in New Orleans and questioned whether God had truly pointed him in that direction.

The day before training camp, the Saints cut him. So on that 7-hour drive home, unemployed, Clint questioned the Lord's guidance even more. But before the day was over, the Seahawks called, and by that night he was seated in first-class en route to Seattle, just in time for the start of training camp the next morning.

Clint willingly sacrificed his gift and dream to the call of the Lord that didn't make sense in the world's eyes.
And yet now we know the rest of the story.

All of these stories echo a rhythm of sacrifice followed by blessing. The original story, of course, is that of Abraham and Isaac. God's call on Abraham - yikes. If you're like me, it's pretty radical that God would ever ask this patriarch to sacrifice his SON. But God did ask, and then of course provided the ram. It was Abraham's faith  - his willingness to give up that which he held most dear, his firstborn and only son - that granted him favor with God, made him a friend of God, and then placed him in a position to be the father of God's chosen people.

In the incredible distress and anguish of binding his son to that wood on the altar, Abraham believed God. He believed that God would fulfill his promise of making Abraham's descendents as numerous as the stars in the universe, it just might not look like Abraham imagined.

Joanna's vintage store.
Christy's worship-leader, song-writer career.
Clint's free-agent contract with professional football team he'd dreamed of.

All following in the rhythm of sacrifice and blessing that Abraham experienced with Isaac.
Each with a unique platform that God constructed from their faith journeys.
And all offering hope and encouragement that when the Lord asks us to lay down our gifts, our dreams, we can trust His good, acceptable and perfect plan.

We may or may not see His platform of glory through our lives this side of Heaven. And we can probably bank on His plan looking a little different than we imagined. Regardless, Praise God that He is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or even dream of.

Lord, should You call us to willingly sacrifice our gifts and dreams when it doesn't make sense in the world's eyes, we trust that You know the rest of the story.