Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘sacrifice’ as,
“an act of offering to a deity something precious or
[the] destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.”
When Mabel met George she was just a young girl. He was nine years her senior. They met at the farm of George’s uncle in Tygh Valley, Oregon. The year was 1913.
Over the course of the next ten years, the friendship between their families grew. They worked together several times during threshing season. Mabel’s skills advanced as she labored beside her mother in the kitchen as they prepared meals for the men working the fields.
During her school years, Mabel was taught at whatever one-room schoolhouse was nearby or she’d learn under the direction of her mother. She grew to love reading and writing most. Her days of tending to pigs and cows in the field were spent reading David Copperfield and the poems of Longfellow.
(Above: Mabel, high school graduation; Maupin, Oregon; June 1924. She was the only graduating senior in her class)
And as she grew, she dreamed of what she might do one day. She was awarded a scholarship to the University of Oregon in Eugene. It would mean traveling hundreds of miles away from her family and friends. But Mabel had dreams of becoming a school teacher and looked forward to going to university. She’d already tasted a bit of what that would be like; she and a small selection of other high school seniors had been granted a trip to visit the University. She had made new friends and was looking forward to what her future held.
Isn’t that the way it always goes? Our young protagonist is bright-eyed and hopeful, the world in the palm of his or her hands, but then…. Something happens. Because something almost always does.
For Mabel, it was the realization that despite her scholarship and her parent’s hard work, sending her to college was simply not a financial burden her family could afford. But there was something else, too….
During high school, Mabel and George had reconnected. He was home from the war and working wherever he could find work. Meanwhile, she was helping at her father’s confectionary shop in the afternoons and on weekends. Smitten by Mabel’s charm and sweet smile, George spent a good many of his afternoons at the Confectionary just to spend time with her.
(Above: George Morris; circa 1917; Private 1st Class U.S. Marine Corps)
By her senior year, he was courting her. He played for the local baseball team in Maupin, Oregon and Mabel would go to his games. He took her to the dances at the Grange Hall. And when the decision finally needed to be made – college or no? When it came right down to it, Mabel didn’t want to leave George. She wanted, instead, to be his wife.
And so, in June of 1923, Mabel sacrificed one dream to fulfill another.
Sacrifice is often seen as a negative. People seem to only think of it as giving up something and they fail to recognize the other side of the coin. Yes, sacrifice does require that something is given up, but in return, you gain something more.
Sacrifice in marriage is a constant practice of giving up yourself (your desires and expectations) in order to better love your spouse. It comes in a thousand different ways. Mostly, it’s the little every day choices you make – should I make my husband’s lunch for him, while I pack my own? Or, should I clean the kitchen because I know that my wife has had a hard day and could use a few minutes alone? These are small sacrifices and yet, they do honestly require that we give something else up.
Maybe cleaning the kitchen means that you don’t get to sit down and turn on Netflix right away. Maybe packing that extra lunch means you won’t have time to stop for coffee on your way to work. Those are sacrifices.
But what are the rewards? A spouse who feels appreciated, valued, seen, considered. Is it worth it? You bet. Do you get a benefit from it? Yeah, you do. Maybe not right away and maybe not even from your spouse. But God will bless your sacrifice because if anyone understands the meaning of that words, it’s our Lord.
Luke 22:42 finds Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying shortly before He was arrested and crucified. As He’s praying He says, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me, yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Jesus knew what was coming. He understood that His time was very limited and He was about to enter into the greatest suffering anyone could possibly experience.
But He also knew He had a purpose that needed to be fulfilled, without which, none of us would know the grace of God and experience Him face to face. What God wanted was a perfect relationship with us, a fallen and sinful bunch of people. But who can approach a holy and blameless God? A sacrifice needed to be made. And Jesus knew that was His calling.
Listen, I cannot even fathom the sheer physical pain of what Jesus endured as he was beaten mercilessly, made to carry the cross and then nailed to it. I can’t begin to imagine the excrutiation He felt every time He tried to even take a breath, much less talk to those who needed to hear his voice one more time. But, I guarantee, the physical suffering He endured was marginal compared to the separation between He and God the Father when He took on the weight of all our sin and shame.
Jesus gave it all. He sacrificed His very life so that you and I could have a relationship with a holy God.
That sacrifice cost everything. It cost Jesus’ life. And yes, of course, He conquered death and rose three days later, but imagine the agony that He suffered as He felt His heavenly Father turn His face away from Him.
And yet, He did it. Why? What would propel Jesus to lay it all down?
You did. I did. He loved us. He wanted us to know Him the way that He knows us. And without that sacrifice, we would remain far removed.
Sacrifice is a big word. It’s a heavy word. It packs a punch. But it isn’t a bad word.
Sacrifice is wrapped up in love.
(Above: George and Mabel Morris; 1951)