It never ceases to amaze me how God uses the simple, very basic elements in life, to deepen our perspective on what is most important. You know, those everyday essentials we take for granted (until there is about to be a shortage. Things like . . . air . . . water . . . or even a half-roll of . . . toilet paper? Yes, toilet paper:
It was while traveling with my recently retired husband that my latest back-to-the-basics lesson began. Having poured over a book called, Drives of a Lifetime*for almost a year, we had decided to try to follow some of the routes described in the book. It took us three days to reach our first target: the “Illinois River Road” near Peoria. We chose a somewhat remote campground to use as a base for our three days of exploring. The campground was small and had only one toilet and shower to be shared. But it was brand new. It was so new it wasn’t completed. It had hot and cold water (a definite “yay”) and smelled of fresh pine because of its newness. However, the wiring was not connected, so we needed a flashlight not only to get to the facility at night, but also to use it. But wasn’t a huge deal for us. The only real problem we saw, was the single roll of toilet paper sitting on the back of the commode that had only about fifteen squares remaining on it. With no manager to ask about a fresh supply (he lived at an undisclosed location), we resolved to use the half-roll of toilet paper we had buried in our camper for just such an emergency.
All went well in our trekking to and from the bathroom, except I found myself trying to hide our treasure as I carried it–especially after the roll still on the back of the commode had been reduced to about three squares.
It was after lunch on the second day, that I heard that “still small Voice” speak to my heart, “Love thy neighbor, Kathie.”
Recognizing immediately that the thought was not my own, I tried to ignore it. I managed about three steps toward our campsite before being overwhelmed by conviction. Only then did I finally responded, “Love my neighbor, Lord?”
The response was gentle, yet firm, “Love thy neighbor.”
I stood on the path, embarrassed by my selfishness, as the next thought came: “Love is Sacrifice.”
A myriad of thoughts went through my head I pondered the disconnect between my selfishness, love and sacrifice. I realized that when the Apostle Paul wrote about the attributes of love in I Corinthians 13 –“love is” patience, kindness, protective of the welfare of others . . .–at the foundation any of such love-reflecting responses to my neighbor (even to those I may not know), is a call to sacrifice. Christian love is not a feeling. Christ-centered love is a deliberate setting aside of our personal needs or desires, for the benefit of someone else. Love IS Sacrifice.
As I made an about-face, returning to the bathroom, I admit feeling a bit sheepish. But, as I intentionally placed the half-roll of toilet paper on the back of the commode, it became for me an altar of sacrifice before the God who saved me for Himself. As I stepped out into the sunlight, leaving my treasure behind me, I felt a wry smile break out across my face at the thought of how loving my neighbor sacrificially gave me a taste of freedom that was sweet indeed.
Be it in large or small ways, love often requires sacrifice.
What is the basis of such love?
Our love for the God, whose Son sacrificially paid the ransom for our freedom.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as beloved children,
and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and
gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.”
Ephesians 5:1, 2
Is there anything you’re holding onto in your heart; anything that is getting in the way of truly loving God? If yes, surrender it NOW as you lean on Him to love your neighbor as He so freely has loved you.
All to His Glory!
*Published by National Geographic, Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Spectacular Trips.