You could hear the hum of his wheel chair and the clicking of the dogs claws as she walked him into the classroom. Every class, the same sounds announced that my professor Dr. Matthis, his wife Odie, and pup had arrived. For three years in my doctoral studies, I watched as Odie daily drove her husband to work, set up his office and classroom space, so he could teach. She stayed on campus all day so she could care for his needs and feed him. See, Dr. Mathis had ALS, but he was called to teach. Odie new that his need to teach gave him strength, meaning, and hope so she sacrificed her personal desires and needs to help Dr. Matthis fulfill his call to teach the next generation of leaders. Odie reminds me of Ruth in the Bible.
For something to be considered a sacrifice one must give up either a personal need, want, desire, or dream for anothers benefit. When Ruth's mother-in-law packed everything up to leave Moab after her husband and two sons died, she urged her daughter-in-laws to go home because she had nothing left to give them. Ruth made an astounding choice that day. She willingly chose to give up her culture, home, people, and god to go with Naomi. If you think on it, these are the very things that make up a person's identity. Ruth chose to sacrifice her identity to go and care for her mother-in-law. No wonder Ruth is used as the symbol of loyalty and devotion by biblical scholars.
We each have choices to make on a daily basis. We can choose to live our lives selfishly, sinfully, or sacrificially. I don't know about you, but my self gets in the way more than it should. And lest I think I don't let sin get in the way, I have to ask myself at times, if I know that I am to die to self daily and don't, wouldn't that be a sin of omission? Please know I am not trying to guilt me or you into sacrifice, but I am trying to challenge us to consider how we might walk more sacricifially. Sometimes the sacrifices might be thrust upon us because of relationships, jobs, illness or the death of a loved one. Regardless of the circumstance, it is the attitude of the service that makes it a sacrifice worth noting. Both Odie and Ruth willingly sacrificed because they lived in loyal love. It is a beautiful thing to watch, but not an easy journey to walk.
Over the years I started to call Odie-"Odiedear" because Odiedear always affectionately called me Tara'Darlin. It is amazing how lives can be changed by one who lives out sacrificially for others. For Ruth, her sacrifice led to her salvation. She believed in the one true God. He gave her a husband and a child. Her son was a grandfather in the lineage of Jesus. We never know the outcome of our sacrifices, but the rewards always outweigh the alternatives of selfishness and sinfulness. Father, please help us to live sacrificialy like Odiedear and Ruth. Where would you like for us to sacrifice today? Help us to walk it joyfully. In Jesus name, amen!
Photo credit: Robert T. Barrett from the American Gallery