I remember it so clearly. It was back in 2016. I was in my garden, picking a few flowers for friends and savoring, probably for the last time ever, my sweet yellow raspberries. I started to cry because the Lord had made it clear that I couldn’t stay in my home and garden anymore because of health issues. I had to move to an apartment. Oh, how I was going to miss my beautiful garden!!!
At first, I began rationalizing—again. “Maybe I won’t have to move. If I could hire people, if…”
But I already had this conversation with God many times, and had accepted the fact that it was God’s will for me to move.
So I said,” Yes, Lord, I will obey You. It’s okay. I’m doing this for You. You have undeniably shown me that this is Your will.” I would emphatically and repeatedly say, “I agape love You, Lord. I am giving this up for You! Your plan is better. I accept what you desire for me.”
A deep sense of peace and joy filled my heart, as I purposefully determined to agape love my wonderful God.
Agape love is a selfless, unconditional, and sacrificial type of love. And it’s a choice. Although agape love doesn’t rely on feelings, it certainly includes them and produces better feelings.
I think the first time I began to understand that we can find joy in sacrifice was on the first anniversary of my husband’s passing. I remember how hard it was—and still is at times. Through my tears, God revealed to me that I could use this time of grief as an opportunity to sacrificially love Him.
Instead of giving in to depression, resentment, or a pity-party mentality, I can choose to willingly comply with God’s plan for my life of being a widow. “Acceptance with joy” as my favorite character, Much-Afraid, in Hind’s’ Feet on High Places* would say.
It is a sacrifice to offer praise to God during hardship, but such a sweetness of fellowship enters our soul that I firmly believe it is worth loving God in this manner.
…Let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. (Heb 13:15 NLT)
God commands us to love Him with all of who we are:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mk 12:30)
Can we find joy in sacrifice?
Yes! Jesus did. (Heb 12:2) and He enables us to obey even this command. The joy we experience in obeying God when it’s hard and costs us something, stimulates us to continue living and loving Him sacrificially.
In this current season, I find myself in a similar position as I did in the past. I have to accept some very difficult things which the Lord has allowed into my life. I have to keep reminding myself—emphatically and repeatedly—that God is good and everything He does is good (Ps 119:68). I have to accept and choose to agape love Him in this particular time of suffering. I say now to my wonderful Savior…
“I agape love You, Lord! I accept and humble myself before You, the King of kings and Lord of lords. I will choose not to complain, stay discontented, and fall back into the pit of self-pity. I will cooperate with You so that Your joy will become my joy!”
So my friend, what situation or trial are you currently undergoing where you need to choose to sacrificially love God? What attitudes can you change? What desires can you put on the altar? What sin can you stop habitually doing? Where has God clearly shown you what He wants but you are still struggling to obey?
See them as opportunities to return agape love to your precious Savior. Don’t fight against God. Cooperate with your loving Father. You won’t regret it – I promise!
Loving God His way is definitely worth it!!!
Go ahead and pray…
Right now—in this situation—I agape love You, Lord!
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*Hannah Hurnard, Hinds Feet on High Places, (Blacksburg, VA: Wilder Publications, 2010).
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