Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3607

Jump Start # 3607

Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

  Our trip to France included a journey to Normandy. Just the week before, was the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We were told by locals that it rains a lot in France. A few early mornings and late nights had rain when we were there, but when we were out and about, the weather was sunny and beautiful. That is, until we came to Normandy. It was rainy, windy and cool. Very fitting for what had taken place on those beaches decades ago. Both my wife and I read different books about D-Day on the flight over. What a solemn place that is to think about the thousands of young men who died to liberate France and put an end to an evil force that was built upon hatred and violence.

  A wreath was placed at one of the monuments and our group sang the National Anthem. Tears were flowing from many cheeks, as they do mine now as I think about that day. From there, we traveled to the American Cemetery, where thousands of white crosses, in perfect alignment and formation fill acres of land. More than 9,000 Americans are buried there. Today, no one is allowed to walk between the graves. There are too many visitors, we were told. But there are paths that one can walk down.

  I saw the grave of a soldier from Indiana. I took a picture of one that read, “Known but to God.” We were told that there is a father and son that are buried side by side in that cemetery. Both killed in Normandy. So many crosses. So many lives. It reminded me of a story that my sweet dad told me years ago. Just graduated from high school, he enlisted in the Marines and was soon off to California for training and then boarded a ship to the South Pacific islands where he would be in combat in WW II. Before he left the states, one of his jobs was to load white crosses on a ship. I wondered at Normandy if my dad had handled some of those crosses. When he told that story, he said, he often wondered if his name would be on one of those crosses. How frightful for an 18 year-old kid to experience.

  I wish every person could make the visit to the American Cemetery in Normandy. It’s a perspective about sacrifice. The average age of the more than 9,000 buried in that cemetery is 22 years old. Young. Just starting life. Many just finished high school. Many never had even heard of Normandy. And, here, buried side by side, they remain until the resurrection.

  So many in our group realized that such sacrifices would likely not happen today. It’s a different culture and people are so much into their own lives that sacrifice isn’t something that they are interested in.

  Now, here are some spiritual lessons from all of this:

  First, being a disciple of Jesus means sacrifice. Jesus defined discipleship as “denying self and taking up your cross daily and following Me.” That taking up your cross is where sacrifice is found. No one walked away from being on the Cross. Even Jesus died on the cross.

  And, because of this, you and I must sacrifice. There are things we’d do differently, but we go along, because it’s what’s best for the whole. We put ourselves behind that of others. What I feel, what I want, what I think, must be sacrificed. But, more than that, there is the dedication of commitment, time, and resources. I give, when I’d rather keep the money for myself. I teach when I’d rather just attend. I encourage when I’d rather just stay to myself. Why? Sacrifice. Sacrifice for others. We remain a free country today partly because of those nine thousand graves in Normandy. With the heart of a servant and the spirit of sacrifice, no one ought to hear, “Why should I?” Or, “Do I have to?” Or, “what’s in it for me?” The “me” aspect is sacrificed. Until we deny ourselves, we can never truly sacrifice as the Lord wants us to.

  Second, all of us have been blessed by the sacrifices of others. The very fact that the American Flag still flies freely in this country is one reminder of the sacrifice of others. For so many of us, our parents did without so they could give to us. They sacrificed. Some of us went to college because our parents paid for it. Even, spiritually, our forefathers have donated land, built buildings, and endured so much that has made things possible today. Paul told the Corinthians that he was thirsty, hungry, poorly clothed and mistreated. Why? He was making sacrifices for others. The wellbeing of the Corinthians was more important to him than his own comfort.

  Third, there is no sacrifice that equals what our Lord has done. Coming from Heaven to this place where He was tortured, tormented and troubled by the people He came to help and save. His blood was spilled for our eternal freedom. He endured what ought to have come upon us. His sacrifice changed the world and made Heaven possible.

  What fuels sacrifice is compassion and love. Why does a mother do all that she does for her little ones? Because she loves them. Why does a Bible class teacher spend most of a Saturday studying and studying to prepare the classes that will be taught the next day? Because of love. Why do shepherds pray and encourage and help the sheep? Because of love. And, why did the Lord give His life for you? Because He loves you.

  Without love, sacrifice becomes empty and more of an obligation and duty. Have to, replaces, want to, when love is missing.

  The crosses at Normandy. For eighty years those fallen soldiers have lain side by side in that solemn cemetery. Their sacrifices changed lives back home. Fathers did not return. Husbands did not return. Sons did not return. They paid the ultimate price. They gave their greatest gift, their very lives. And, today, many have little interests or care about that.

  And, long before that, upon an old rugged cross, the greatest sacrifice that the world has even known took place. Through His death, we have been redeemed. Through His death, we now are free.

  Sacrifice—that’s the heart of the New Testament.