Like potty training accidents and moments of defiance, sickness isn’t really something you can plan into your schedule, (though now that I have two kids, it’s a little easier to see it coming. Example: My preschooler got a runny nose, became even more affectionate toward his little sister, giving her the cold, which passed to my husband who had to go to work feeling sick, and finally after a few days of trying to make everyone feel better, I got to join in the nose-blowing fun.)
As the regular household chores were pared down to keeping the kids alive and a few meals cooked, I struggled with the feeling of uselessness, accomplishing even less than the current pace of life I’ve tried to get used to with having two kids. Time to study the Bible is even more interrupted by inconsistent nap schedules and a tired mommy brain.
It’s made me want to enter this season of Advent and the wonderful family and friend Christmas extras that are added to the schedule with a greater awe for Immanuel—God with us—leading and guiding how we go about our days.
But how do we know how to spend our time?
First, we need to figure out what roles God has called us to in light of the future inheritance we have, which will never perish, spoil, or fade. (I Peter 1:4)
Called to Be a Priest
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV)
So what does it actually look like to be a priest on this side of the cross?
How can I be a priest as I go about my other wife-mother-friend-daughter-sister-church member roles?
First, we need to remember that our ability to be a priest rests solely on Jesus’ work as the Great High Priest. He was tempted in every way, yet kept the law perfectly so that we can receive His righteousness on our behalf. Even now, He intercedes for us so that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Only then can we hope to offer the smaller spiritual sacrifices that reflect His greatest sacrifice on the cross as we intercede between and on behalf of others.
Jen Wilkin, in her Bible study on 1 Peter, pointed us to some Scriptures describing five different kinds of spiritual sacrifices.
- A broken spirit and contrite heart
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:15-17)
- Our bodies
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
- Proclaiming the gospel
But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:15-16)
- Praising God by acknowledging His name
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
- Doing good and sharing what I have
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)
Just like God’s gracious blessings are both physical and spiritual, our sacrifices to Him may or may not be seen before they are offered like incense before God’s throne.
Each moment I invest in praising God for who He is, thanking Him for the specific physical and spiritual gifts He helps me to recognize, and surrendering my body for His use, it is a sacrifice to Him.
Every time I invite Him to search my heart and draw me to repentance, it is a sacrifice to Him.
And when my heart is focused on the goodness of God, it prepares my heart and mind for talking about that goodness with others.
I can be thankful for each opportunity to do good that He provides: each spoonful of pureed peas, each moment of listening to a friend pour out her struggles, each repeated read of the Katie the Snowplow book , and each cycle of planning a menu, shopping, pulling ingredients out of the fridge, cooking, serving, and cleaning up.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, will we be content to stop at spending a moment thanking Him for the physical blessings of good food, family, and friends? (Or merely join with the world in the feeling of “being thankful” with no one to direct our thanks to?)
What other sacrifices might God be inviting us to give for our good and His glory?
*If you’d like to read a Thanksgiving fiction piece I wrote last year, click here.