All my life, I've heard the words' obedience is better than sacrifice!' Suffice it to say, while I always thought I knew exactly what this phrase meant, I can't explain what that initial thought process was. Meaning I can't put it into words that would make sense enough to make it make sense—if that makes sense.
Needless to say, the first sentiment went up in flames. And as of late, I've found a new appreciation for this phrase—hang tight, and I'll cue you in soon enough.
In my short life to date, I've made some questionable choices. I mean, downright nonsensical. Some of those choices were as blatant as seeing fire spewing from the stove but opting to take my bare hand and slap it on there regardless. Then, of course, cry. I mean, wailing that I got burned.
I remember liking this fella one time, and I promise you, six minutes into the conversation, all signs said to run for the hills. Even back then, in my glass bubble of oblivion, my still small voice said run. But NO, my curiosity said, "Hush Sis, this might be fun; all you have to do is not catch feelings!" (insert shake my head emoji) That was like telling Tom to stop chasing Jerry. What was meant to be a test drive turned into me buying a car I couldn't afford. And by afford it wasn't worth the price tag.
As if that wasn't enough of a catastrophe, in a different turn of events, I'd made another selfish and dumb decision. One that caused a dear friend to catch me in a lie. I'm talking of mammoth proportions. Going into the confrontation conversation, I knew I should have simply told the truth. But nope, I convinced myself that my good friend would never find out the depth of my deceit or that I tried to cover it up. Whew, challl, if already had the receipts was a person. That one indiscretion caused a whole group of folks to look at me suspect ever since. I'm not sure I ever recovered from it. Another sacrifice that was again not worth the hassle.
The definition of obedience is to behave with respect, being aware of laws and rules. That is to say; obedience is a moral virtue.
Listening is the foundation of obedience. In both these cases, I did not heed the forewarning. Both times I hurt people, and I ended up hurting myself because I wasn't listening or, better yet, paying attention to the obvious.
Come, come, sis, this a lot of yammering get to the point of what is a living sacrifice and what does any of it have to do with ya cute lil anecdotes. Geesh, calm down; I'm getting there! But not before storytime.
So you've heard about Father Abraham's & Sarah's promised son, Issac. (See Genesis 22) Issac is what my good Bahamians would call Hammy and Rah-Rah's old-age pension (meaning the child who would serve as their caregiver in old age). I'm sure we know of a person who had a baby at what would be considered past her childbearing age—and all we could do is say, "Ma'am, go with God!"
All I be thinking is, imagine I have a kid well into this decade known as my 40's (heaven forbid). I get to this kid's school, and some other lady's little angel says to me, "Oooh, who Grammy you is? I'd, of course, respond in kind between clenched teeth and a smile. "No, you lil cantankerous brut! Go in the corner and mind ya business!" #gositdown
Anyway, that's how I imagine Sarah going to the school tent. Sorry, but the Bible is a whole movie in my head. Now imagine sis wanting this baby so bad and waiting so long, but now her husband comes talking ca-ca bout God says to give him back! We can see why Hammy never told her who he was going to sacrifice. Cause I can hear her now, "Alexa play Tyrone by Erykah Badu," 'Cause sacrifice who, baby? #boybye
Meanwhile, all Hammy was doing was trying to do as the Lord says to do. In other words, be obedient. Personally, if it were me, it would probably be like me touching that raw fire on the stove. Me, I'm gonna get burned because somewhere in there, I was gonna be dodgy about those instructions.
All through the old testament, there was the practice of sacrifices. To me, that always translates to it being bloody, brutal and messy, and something or someone was dying.
Blood sacrifices could serve many purposes, including offering gifts, having communion, making propitiation (atonement), cleansing, and preventing failures or evils, and also a means of pleasing God. With that said, there were typically three (3) things needed for a sacrifice: a priest, an altar and a victim.
Cause on the flip side of Hammy's fiasco, there was a man named Jephthah. Long story short, he was the son of a prostitute, and his half-brothers sent him away because they didn't feel he should be entitled to any of their father's possessions. Anyhow, he went away, and before long, he had his own band of merry men. #oneorder (a known gang in The Bahamas)
So now, the country where the same family had sent him away was being attacked. The officials there sent for Jephthah to lead them into battle. In grand niggly fashion, he cocked his head to the side, bent over slightly, pointed toward his chest and said, "IIIIIII must come to help you after you'll done kick me square in my heinie?" Only the officials counter-offered and said, "Listen, fella, if you come and fight with us, we'll make you ruler over the entire land!" I could see Jephthah's face now, "Oh, now that changes things! You should have led with that good man!"
Anyhew, Jephthah agreed and, as such, had some back and forth with the king he was about to fight. Jephthah then invoked his higher power. He went to Big G and decided to make his request known BUT went on and sealed it with a vow! Bear in mind nobody asks him to promise a stitch!! Oh boy, you already know this is about to end badly! Now hear this mess. He says to God: "If you give me victory over my enemies, I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering." Jesus, take the wheel! No, take the whole car and the road! Who, in their right mind, would vow this kinda vow? You know who wasn't doing it? Me! #whatatime
And so, God gave him victory over his enemies. I mean, he straight annihilates them. BUT now it's time to pay the piper. Exhale deeply you'll cause what happens next broke my heart.
When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy (just a deer in the headlights). She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters.
When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. "Oh, my daughter!" he cried out. "You have completely destroyed me! You've brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the Lord, and I cannot take it back."
Poor little tink-tink's reply was equally as heart-wrenching. And she said, "Father, if you have made a vow to the Lord, you must do to me what you have vowed, for the Lord has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. (Judges 11:34-36)
So while he had victory in one area, he now was devastated in another. Yea, you took the dude from sweet-girl, but maybe just maybe her being without him is the real win. Yea, you were cutthroat and ruthless in getting the position for the few extra dollars; now you just sacrificed quality time with your family.
A sacrifice means giving up something you value, and to give it will cost you something more than you bargained for. In many cases, everything. An offering means giving something from your abundance. To be honest, you wouldn't miss it, and it didn't really hurt to do so.
Lemme bring it home to your house:
It's better to obey (listen to the still small voice) than to sacrifice (try detaching yourself from old dude when your soul done tied).
It's better to obey (honour your monthly agreed-upon contract) to pay your bills on time rather than suffer disconnection or repossession.
It's better to obey (telling the truth); maybe your honesty will move the person to cover your vulnerability rather than disclose your flaw, thus ruining your reputation.
It's better to obey (abstain) if you ain't married. It's one thing to be a parent with two individuals under the same roof, BUT single parents everywhere you'll the real MVPs.
It's better to obey by not adding unwarranted terms and conditions. You know, "Lend me twenty, and I'll give you back $30.00!"
Let me say it like this; obedience requires two things to be effective. It needs to be immediate, and it needs to be complete. Hammy already tied up the lad. Isaac was as good as gone, save for the ram in the thicket. How many of us could have done it? Few, I'm sure. Hence the trickle-down effect is far more grave than the initial ask.
Obedience isn't one of those things that should be up for debate. Nothing is more annoying to a parent who told a kid to carry out a task, and they just have to rebut every iota of the instruction. Sometimes there is not enough time to explain. Instructions can be time-sensitive. #doitneowwww
Obedience doesn't require an addendum. Don't go adding vows to instructions.
Moral of the story: while in churchdom, a living sacrifice refers to living a purely consecrated life in submission to God, dare I say then to disobey you've now become the living sacrifice. Not a consecrated life but a desecrated life—alive but always being slaughtered and then burned. Translation: constantly consumed by what can't be quenched. I suppose hell on earth may be an understatement.
Or, perhaps let me put it another way, you'll forever be giving up what you value most but never having gained. In that case, your life then becomes the priest; people will become the altar, and you, my friend, the victim—a living sacrifice. All I know is you can sing "I give myself away" all you want, but one thing I know to be true in this life, if nothing else, is, "When you don't listen, you'll feel." And that's on Mary's little lamb!