What Serving God Is Going to Cost You

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My youngest daughter had chronic ear infections for the first nine months of her life. On nights when she was particularly fretful, my husband would awaken to discover me missing and the baby gone from her crib. He would find us in the rocking chair—my daughter sleeping peacefully on my shoulder and me with silent tears of exhaustion rolling down my cheeks. I spent many nights this way. 

While I would rather have been sleeping comfortably in my bed, being able to alleviate her pain made it worth dark circles under my eyes and a crick in my neck. I did it because I loved her more than I loved my sleep, my comfort, and my preferences. 

I loved her more than I loved myself. 

Have you noticed that God invites us to sacrifice these same things when he calls us into his service?

My husband and I have had many shortened (or non-existent) nights of sleep while shepherding the youth of our church, serving on mission trips, or ministering to those in the hospital. Spiritual and physical emergencies are inconvenient; they seldom lend themselves to advance scheduling. Wayward children break parents’ hearts on nights, weekends, and holidays. Marriages hit slick spots and need to be pulled from the ditch before they burst into flames. Breaking hearts need hugs and prayers at all the wrong times. 

When I minister in Jesus’ name, he also calls me to sacrifice my comfort. Sharing the gospel is risky, and sometimes downright scary. I’ve never felt comfortable sharing my faith, though I’ve done it dozens of times. 

Obedience has taken me places I would never voluntarily go—a downtown homeless ministry, a cancer center, an impoverished country. It’s led me to reach out to the rich and influential, and the poor and ignored. I’ve marched for the unborn, waved signs for elected officials, and hugged people I’ll never see again this side of Heaven. None of it was comfortable.

Service often intrudes upon my preferences, too. I prefer to make all the decisions, spend money on myself, and work with people who say “please,” and “thank you.” I’d rather keep mercy for myself and demand justice for everyone else. I’d like to be forgiven, but never have to forgive, be the recipient instead of the giver, and be served rather than serve. I’d prefer to be the master instead of the servant.

But when God calls us—and he calls us all—he slowly but surely transforms our “want to’s.” He chisels out our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh—his flesh. We love because he first loved us. We begin to care for those he cares about. His purpose becomes our purpose. 

I rocked my baby girl night after night at great personal cost for two reasons—because I loved her more than I loved myself, and because I knew I could make a difference. 

These are the same reasons I serve the Lord:

Because I love him more than I love myself, and I want to make a difference

 Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 12:15: 

“I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.” 

If you’re feeling broken and spilled out today, rest assured. He sees. “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).

"'I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life’” (Luke 18:29). 

“Be not weary in doing good, for you will reap a harvest. . .” (Galatians 6:9). 

How have you sacrificed for the Lord and celebrated the results later? Leave a comment below to encourage us! If you're reading by email, click here to comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like "Obedience Is In the Small Things."

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  8. lorihatcher8:28 PM

    You were brave and sacrificial to be willing to be transparent for the cause of Christ. I am sure that you comforted and challenged others with the comfort you yourself have received. And those are the faith lessons that really make an impression on people. They're real, they're raw, and they're redemptive. I know God will bless you for stretching for him.

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  10. GailBP1:37 PM

    Great analogy, Lori. You are so good at taking something from life and giving it spiritual application. Yes, it's those thing we'd not choose to do that are often our greatest blessings.

  11. This is beautiful, Lori! I loved what you said here "I’d rather keep mercy for myself and demand justice for everyone else." I know that I can be that way myself sometimes. Especially when someone else's rights have been trampled on (or even my own).

    This last week has been busy for my hubby as yesterday he had to do a memorial service for our friend's 25 year old son. So he's been busy preparing for that service, preparing his sermon and being available for any counseling, etc.

    He hasn't complained, of course. But it's as you said, when you're in the ministry you sometimes have some long days or long nights, etc. But you're doing it for the Lord and also out of love for others and a desire to help.

  12. We're writing about this too today. I mean about how dangerous and difficult it can be to follow God. I had not thought, though, about how that's like having a sleepless baby! I certainly also remember those days!

  13. Sarah Coller9:11 PM

    This is a great post. I know all about those sleepless nights...I also have a feeling I'll miss them someday! Blessings to you---thanks for linking up!

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  15. Thank you Lori! I am always blessed by people like you who give so much of their lives into serving God and others. It’s not easy and not everyone can do it. I’m not sure I would be able to. My parents are missionaries and I’ve grown up seeing how they sacrificed their lives for the people in our church, expecting nothing in return. I asked mum once how they did it day in and day out, facing rejection and hurt, and yet serving. She said the same thing you mentioned, “But when God calls us—and he calls us all—he slowly but surely transforms our “want to’s.” He chisels out our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh—his flesh…His purpose becomes our purpose”. She reminded me of the hurt and rejection that Jesus suffered from the people close to Him, and yet did He leave it all? No, so he gives the grace to follow in His steps. I have admired my need marriage counseling mother and my father as they have suffered and sacrificed so much and so I understand you Lori and I pray that God would richly bless you for all that you do for Him! Thank you for this lovely note!