"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
March 28, 2018
About a year ago I took up quilting. I hadn't sewn since high school and really didn't think that I liked it, but have found that I enjoy making quilts. I have posted pictures of the various quilts that I've made and have had a couple people show some interest in buying one, asking how much I would charge. The truth is, I've given almost all of my quilts away to family and friends. I know that my quilts aren't perfect and have some flaws, but really that adds to the character of it, right?!
Honestly, unless someone has made a quilt, they have no idea the cost and time involved. Most of the quilts that I have made are lap-size (which is approximately a crib or twin size). By the time fabric is bought for the quilt top and backing, batting, thread, needles, and any other supplies that may be needed, the cost adds up quickly. Then there are all the hours that it takes to sew it, pin it, quilt it, trim it, serge it, and bind it. A lot of people look at a quilt the size that I make and think that paying $50 for it would be very generous. Not so! That doesn't even cover the cost of the supplies, unless I happen to find a really good sale on the fabric and batting. To make it profitable for me and cover my materials and time, I'd need to charge $125-$150 for this size of quilt. Many seem to think that is outrageous and would conclude that I'm over-charging and aren't willing to pay that price. If they did happen to buy one of my quilts and saw the various flaws and places where the fabric puckered or the corners aren't squared or whatever, they likely would not be happy that they bought a quilt that was not perfect. Therefore, I enjoy making the quilts and choose to give them away to various people as gifts; which makes me happy and seems to make the recipient happy as well! Most may not recognize the value of the gift, but they are appreciative because it was handmade by me and the sentiment of that means a lot to them.
A few years ago, a lady that I know well did cake decorating; and did an amazing job! Her cakes were beautiful and very detailed and she was very talented in doing this. But from things she said, there were many people who thought she over-charged for her cakes. They wanted her to make a specialized birthday or anniversary cake for them, and do all the detailed decorating, but didn't want to pay what she needed to make it profitable for her. They recognized the quality of her work, but didn't want to have to pay her going rate, thinking it was too expensive.
We see this mindset in many different areas where someone is skilled in making handmade items. People recognize the talent and would like to have what they see, but don't want to pay the price. They will either grumblingly pay for it if it's something that they want badly enough, or they will settle for lesser quality to buy it cheaper, or choose to do without. Often the value of the item that the person spent time handcrafting isn't truly appreciated by others; unless it is someone who creates and makes things themselves.
These examples are insignificant compared to the value of the gift that Jesus gave to mankind; but often, this is about the degree to which we appreciate the sacrifice that He made on our behalf. We are thankful that Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again so that we could enjoy salvation and have eternal life; but don't truly understand what it cost Him.
We are all grateful, but I'm not sure that we really understand the value of the gift of God sending His only Son to earth in human form; if we truly get that it was like for Jesus to leave the heavenly realm of perfection and of having never experienced or known sin, to become sin for us; if we have even an iota of perception of the pain and suffering and humiliation that He endured on our behalf.
We know that we benefit salvation and the hope of eternal life in Heaven with Jesus due to His sacrifice, but do we honestly comprehend what it cost Him? If we did, I believe that we would be more willing to fully commit our lives to Him and fully devote ourselves to whatever He calls us to do. We would be more eager to share the good news of the gospel and tell others about Jesus.
This past Sunday, Jon filled in at our church by teaching the adult Sunday School class. I was unable to be in the class, but he gave me an overview of what he taught. The subject that Jon chose was survivors' remorse; meaning, when someone dies and you live, then the burden of guilt and remorse that they will carry afterwards, often for the rest of their lives.
There is a lady who was in one of the departments that I supervised while working in banking. She was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer while working for me, went through chemo, and survived the cancer. She was in her twenties at that time. A few years later, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died. The daughter felt guilty for being the one who survived cancer and that her mom was the one who died. She felt as if her mom was more important to the family, as if her sisters and the grandkids needed their mom and grandmother more than they needed her, and that it should have been her that died and not her mom. In fact, she was convinced that the rest of the family felt that same way, too. In reality, I doubt that the thought even crossed the other family members' minds, and they would have felt horrible had they known that she was feeling this way. She tried to make it up to them by acts of kindness and buying things for her siblings and their kids.
In 1959, Waylon Jennings (who in later years became a country music legend) was playing guitar for Buddy Holly. They were on tour and the buses that they had kept freezing up, so Buddy Holly decided to charter a private plane to take himself, Waylon Jennings, and another member of the group to their next concert. Waylon gave up his seat on the plane as a favor to another band member, who was sick with the flu at that time. When he told Buddy Holly that he had given up his seat to the other guy, Holly joked that he hoped Jennings froze on the bus. Twenty-year-old Jennings joked back, "I hope your ol' plane crashes." The plane did crash, killing Buddy Holly and the two men who were on it with him. In an interview decades later, he said, "For years, I thought I had caused it (the crash)." He said that he tried not to think or talk about it.
There are many war-time stories where a soldier survived and the rest of their unit was killed in combat or by land mines or by a bomb or whatever. The survivor often feels guilty for surviving when everyone else close to them lost their lives. It's a heavy burden that affects them for the rest of their lives and they have a hard time healing inside.
Being a survivor, when you feel or know that you should have been the one who had died, can often cause an overwhelming sense of guilt, which keeps that person from truly enjoying their life. Instead of seeing their life as a gift from God, they feel unworthy.
This is really a better example of what Jesus dying in our place looks like. Perhaps the reason that it's hard for us to truly understand and comprehend this is because we weren't present when He died; we weren't there to watch Him being stripped and beaten and tortured, while people stood by and mocked Him. We can read about it and imagine what it must have been like, but we have a hard time grasping the magnitude of what Jesus did for us. If we really got it, then perhaps we would be more appreciative and thankful and willing to fully commit our lives completely to Him.
Jesus died so that we didn't have to. He took our sin and shame, so we could receive salvation and have eternal life. Every single thing that Jesus endured was on our behalf. If individuals truly grasped that and understand His sacrifice, they wouldn't be so willing to push Him aside and put their own desires above surrendering their heart and life to Jesus. They'd stop making excuses and trying to justify why salvation isn't important or necessary for them, or why they can't fully commit, or trying to half-heartedly being just enough saved to miss hell.
Perhaps the reason that so many reject salvation, or don't fully commit their life, is because they feel unworthy of His gift. They don't feel as if they deserve Jesus dying for them and taking their guilt and shame. They have "survivors guilt". Instead of truly accepting the gifts of salvation and eternal life, they spend their years on earth feeling as if they aren't worth Jesus dying for; perhaps due to how they've messed their life up and sins they struggle with or poor choices.
The sacrifice that Jesus made was totally made out of the abundance of love that He has for us. The time line that we, as humans, live on has no bearing on God. He has no beginning and no end, therefore, He doesn't work in time frames; He doesn't see as we see. While Jesus was dying on the cross, the Father not only saw those who were alive on earth at that moment, but He could look ahead and see every single individual who would ever be born. He saw the sins of every single person who would ever walk on earth, and Jesus took all of those sins upon Himself; dying in the place of each one of them.
Ephesians 5:1-2 says, "Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God."
Until we begin to fully comprehend the sacrifice that Jesus made, it will be difficult for us to follow His example. If we don't really understand how filled with love He was, then we aren't going to be able to live a life filled with love. Not just a surface love...an "I love you, because the Bible says I must" type of love... but a love that is willing to sacrifice everything we have and everything we are. A love that says, "I'm willing to leave my home and give up everything I own; give up my reputation and humble myself; and die for you, if necessary." A love that says, "Because I love the Father so much and see myself as He sees me, a beloved and cherished son/daughter, I am able to fully love myself. And because I fully love myself, I am able to love you equally!" The kind of love that says, "Wow! Jesus loved me enough to offer Himself as my sacrifice and die for me, how can I possibly reject that much love?! I'm going to love Him in return with everything within me!"
That sounds good in theory, but hard to always put into practice! I'm still working on that, and so can you!
As we approach Easter this coming Sunday, may we each spend time meditating on the life of Jesus and think about what it was truly like for Him to leave His throne in heaven, sitting on the right side of His Father, and come to earth in human form. What was it like for Him to be rejected as the Messiah and have people mock and scorn Him? And what was it really like to be stripped and beaten and tortured and hung on a cross in front of a multitude of people; some who recognized who He was, some who didn't, and some who didn't want to accept that fact that He was the promised Savior?
Allow Jesus to demonstrate His love to you in a very real and personal way as we celebrate His death and resurrection. Read about His life, spend time talking to Him, and allow Him to speak to your heart... and really take the time to listen to what He has to say. Jesus not only likes hearing us talk to Him, but He loves speaking to us, too. Let the magnitude and value of what He did on your behalf really sink in and change how you perceive and think about Jesus from this point on. Let this be a life-changing Easter!
In our Sunday School class, we had quite a bit of discussion centered around survivors' guilt. We talked about survivors in war, plagues, and other disasters. We also discussed a few cases where someone had to make a quick choice who to save. But the main point was to discuss when someone dies in order to save someone else.
One of the church members related a story about a young person who accidentally stepped into a busy street. Three older people jumped to save the younger one. They succeeded in saving the young person, but all three died in the process. We could only speculate how the young person felt after that. They might be consumed by guilt. But they might also be honored that such a price was paid for them. If he chose not to honor the sacrifice, it would be like their lives were not worth much.
We discussed that in some detail. Someone who witnessed the event had asked whether that was worth it. I didn't know anyone involved, so all I can do is speak for myself. And for myself, I would prefer to risk my life attempting to save someone than to simply stand by, and watch them die. That's true whether I were successful or not.
Loretta already mentioned the main point of the discussion. That was that Jesus didn't just risk Himself to try to save us. He gave Himself. We can honor that, or reject it.
1/2 pound ground beef
2 (16 oz.) cans pork and beans, drained
1/2 pound bacon, diced
2 tablespoons molasses
Onion, chopped (amount desired)
1/3 cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-3 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 can dark red kidney beans
Brown the ground beef with the onion; add the salt and pepper; drain. In a separate pan, cook the bacon and dice. Add all of the ingredients together in a baking pan. Cook at 350 for 1 hour.
Recently I was in Walmart looking at the seasonal items in the Easter aisle. There was a really cute little girl, probably around age 5 or 6 years old, there with her mama looking at things. The girl kept asking for things and her mama told her, "You're aren't getting anything, so stop asking!" But needless to say, her daughter was persistent. The little girl picked up an Easter wreath and said, "We need this to put on our front door, so we'll have something for Jesus for Easter!" Her mom told her no. It made me chuckle when her daughter said, "What would Jesus do?!" Her mom replied, "Well Jesus wouldn't buy that wreath!"
As we prepare our hearts for Resurrection Sunday,
don't forget that you have His power living inside you every single day! - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon