By Brad Bloom
Sacrifice --- It comes in many different forms. You can see it if you hit the gym very early in the morning or late at night. It’s on the face of that determined weightlifter that is sweating and straining to lift a heavier weight and reach a new goal. It is measured in hours of dedication.
You may hear it in the cheers of the parents who faithfully drive their children to practice and the games. They are always there and always supportive.
It is also in the strong hand of a compassionate relative or friend who has committed to supporting that handicapped person through physical therapy.
Whatever form it takes, we all know that the sweet smell of success—the thrill of victory—is never attained without it. Sacrifice is the required ingredient for growth. It is the undeniable factor in achievement. It is a key to getting what you want, being satisfied and fulfilling your goals.
Yet sacrifice is the one thing that many avoid. We avoid it with great effort and determination. It is easier to take a diet pill, skip a practice, sleep in late, cheat, compromise.
Think about it. Where do you cut corners? How do you allow yourself to fall short? Take a moment to consider what role sacrifice has in your life. Or, does it even have a role? Perhaps you have so effectively eliminated it that you see no purpose for it. True, if you can’t have fun in your fitness experience—why bother? But if you’ve never experienced sacrifice you don’t know just how fun fitness can be. Seriously, you are cheating yourself out of the total experience.
The Christian faith offers a dynamic kick to understanding and embracing sacrifice. That being said, it is time for a lesson in furniture usage.
You know that small decorative table you occasionally dust in the living room of your home or that hope chest at the foot of your bed? No? Well, think about some space in your home that maybe doesn’t get a lot of use or could be used differently. Fitness professionals that provide advise on meditation and relaxation recommend that people create space in their home to do exactly that—meditate and relax. Some suggest that a table with candles can provide a place to focus.
The Christian faith has something similar. It is called an alter. Dig into the Bible and you’ll see that some of the earliest alters didn’t have candles—they were huge fires to burn a sacrifice. Today’s Christian alter is usually relegated to the front of a church sanctuary and may collect about as much dust (from lack of use) as that table in your living room. Not quite what God had in mind when the temple vale was rent in two at the death of Christ. That alter is meant to be a place to get to frequently. To do what? Sacrifice!
So you’ve got to wonder if these meditation-minded fitness pros may not be following God more than we (and they) realize. It’s time to get that alter established in your home.
I’m talking on the level of a serious HGTV makeover. It might be a major renovation but it could be as simple as rearranging some furniture and adding a few accessories. Whatever you do, it should be intentional, dedicated and celebrated. Many people create a home office, a home gym, a man cave, a craft room or some other special use space in their home. We need a place to nurture our ALTER ego. It is a space void of mobile devices and free from entertainment. It is your sanctuary that liberates you from the clutter of concerns and the self-generated noise. It is your place to be alone with God. It is a sanctified destination where you can invite someone to join you and together seek God’s Spirit. It can be a “family room” like not other.
And what exactly is at this alter? Maybe you’ll place a Bible there—to actually read it. Perhaps it will have photos of the ones you love or a journal containing your thoughts—excellent items to have as you focus and pray. Candles too? Sure—nothing like a sweet-smelling savor and burning fire to round out your alter experience. Where is the priest or pastor? Well, as the spotter says to the weight lifter who is successfully bench-pressing his or her heaviest weight yet, “It’s all you baby!”
This is your place to sacrifice…to learn sacrifice. Bring your burdens and fears. Lay out your weaknesses. And that stuff you are doing in your life that you don’t like ---sacrifice it on your alter too. Time to purge, purify and yes, focus too. It can be painful and challenging, even demanding. If you want a truly fit life, you’ve got to get into the habit of sacrifice at the alter. When you do it there, you’ll see it happen in other areas of your life—including your fitness lifestyle.
Taking “pause” in life isn’t just about resting. It’s about genuine and personal sacrifice so that you can find pure rest in God. Discover then nurture your ALTER EGO.
1. Consider past experiences in your life that you feel especially help you define "personal sacrifice". What qualities characterize the concept of "sacrifice" to you? How have these qualities shaped you? In what areas of your life do you feel you want to pursue a greater depth in personal sacrifice?
2. How might your alter experience at home be different from your alter experience at a church? Consider an ancient alter roaring with a hot blaze of fire. Visualize yourself (much like you would be at a campfire) placing something in the fire for it to be full consumed. What significance would that have for you?
3. What space do you have in your home that could be customized and dedicated for sanctuary and alter space? Identify and outline ideas for creating that space, how you can use it. Set a schedule to get the space established and a date set to begin using it. Be sure to CONTACT US and share your experiences or post your Facebook comment below.