“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” -John 15:13
My fellow Overcomers, I hope this year has found you conquering obstacles left and right as you walk in victory with Jesus. It’s been far too long since I’ve written, so I’m sorry for falling off the map. It feels good to be back. You see, God put me on a 6-month pause from writing in order to be tested in the fire. He stretched me in very uncomfortable ways that required me to walk in a higher level of surrender to his will. If you’ve walked with Jesus for a while, then you are familiar with what I am talking about. If you are a new believer, then you will soon learn about the Refiner’s fire. We all must go through it as the Lord leads. This time of refinement left me puzzled about what to write and how to move forward with my blog. Thankfully, as I drew near the end of this pause, I knew I was living in my next topic: sacrificial giving.
In early March of this year, my husband and I were at the Washington state capitol in Olympia for an event. While touring around the grounds, I noticed a World War I monument with a scripture engraved on it, which surprised me given the reputation of the Northwest. Even though the chapter and verse were not identified, I still knew it was from the Bible. In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” After seeing this beautiful verse, I began to pray for Jesus’ love to touch the people of Washington. Jesus was about to answer my prayer with a call to action. Two days later, he asked me to “lay down” my life for one of my friends in sacrificial love. He was about to show me what greater love looks like today.
Through a series of unfortunate events, one of our friends from our previous church found herself homeless. She is a mother of two young kids and has no family nearby. She had exhausted all her options and had no where else to go. When my husband and I heard this, we debated what to do. We read a couple chapters in the book of James and knew that God was calling us to lay our comfortable life down to help our friend in need. We offered her and her children two spare rooms in our house and she moved in just two hours later. This set the five of us on a wild ride that would transform us all.
The plan was to provide temporary housing for 2 weeks until she could find a home. My husband and I knew this was an unrealistic goal, so we were willing to help for as long as it would take. My office was one of the rooms they used, and as a result, all of my personal work came to a complete halt. My husband and I are not yet parents, so our home is pretty quiet. As you can imagine, with two little kids around, this was no longer the case. It was like we stepped into a whirlwind and had no control over when it would spit us out. Now, we love our friend dearly, but living together challenged us all. When you live with people, you see each other’s lives up close and personal… the good, the bad and the ugly. It was a sacrifice of love. I learned to pick and choose my battles and let many things go. I let go of possessions. I let go of what I wanted for my life this year. I let go of comfort and embraced uncertainty. It was really scary at times. We didn’t know how long this season would last. On top of all the normal adjustments, we all faced spiritual attack that was off the charts. We were definitely in a front lines battle together. My husband faced crazy issues with his new business, I faced extreme spiritual darkness and our friend faced absurd problem after problem… everything from stomach flus to a flat tire. I hit my “limit” more than once. It was obvious that Satan hated what we were doing and wanted to destroy us all. It was also clear that God had so much in store for us. As the months went on, we truly became the family of God. It was messy. There was blood, sweat and tears… but there was love; unconditional love.
In the grand scheme of life, it was a small price to pay to see God move powerfully in our friend’s life and provide for her needs. It was a small sacrifice compared to Jesus’ total sacrifice on the cross for us. He truly gave everything in order to save us. It was by his daily grace that we endured this challenging season. He gave us strength, peace and love so that we did not give up. As we persevered, God finally opened a door for our friend. It came suddenly, 6-months later, that he called her to move to another state. For the past month, they have lived with another friend as she prepares to make this transition. He is continuing to provide for her even though she is no longer in our home. We passed the test and found that through the process, we experienced the greater love of God. Jesus’ love is with us in the messy trials of life and when we go through the fire with others, there is a special bond formed where friends become family. Since she’s been gone, we miss cooking family meals together and our late-night conversations. We all grew so much, but watching God fill her with new life and hope was the greatest joy. Indeed, God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).
Jesus’ invitation to lay our lives down is not just for me and my husband, but for the whole body of Christ. I sense that we are coming into a season where every believer is needed to bring in the harvest of souls that is upon us. Each one of us must ask God how he wants us to lay down our lives for our friends. We need Jesus to demonstrate his greater love through our lives so the world can see that we are the true children of God. This sacrificial love will transform lives, including our own. God will call us to lay our lives down in different ways. It will not look the same for every one of us. Just because God had us take in our friend who was homeless does not mean that he is asking you to do the same. Maybe he wants you to take care of a sick neighbor or help a friend with a yard project. He will call some to foster troubled youth and others to move to another country to share the gospel. At some point, he will ask us all to sacrifice in certain ways to demonstrate his great love. In Matthew 16:24-25, “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.’ ” Our salvation depends on our surrender to the cross and we can lead others to the Savior through our expression of his sacrificial love. It will be painful. Dying to ourselves is not a fun or pretty process, but the results are always worth the cost.
What sacrifice is Jesus asking you to make to demonstrate greater love? How will you deny yourself and take up your cross? Friends, I pray that God gives you courage to answer these questions honestly. May his peace that passes all understanding guard and protect your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). We can only make sacrifices with the Holy Spirit’s help and Jesus’ example. Remember that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2). That joy was in the promise of his reconciliation to us. His joy will also be our strength. The joy of experiencing his greater love will allow us to overcome our own sacrifices for the sake of others. Overcoming will provide us with testimonies which encourage others to trust God and take a step of faith into sacrificial love. The desire to see testimonies stir believers into action is leading me to start a video series later this month. Watch for more details coming soon! Let’s take a step together into a greater level of God’s love in the strength of his grace. We will overcome any obstacle we face!
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Thank you! 😊
Your unconditional love really proved itself in this situation. You and your lovely husband are truly servants of the Most High God. It’s so important for unbelievers to see God’s face in His servants. It’s beautiful the rewards that came from that for all of you inside the situation and outside…
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Thank you! I am humbled to be used by the Lord in this way. He truly gets all the credit for the daily grace he gave us to endure.
i wonder what happen to your writing .. now we know .. bless your family for stepping up! i remember things like that in my early walk with Jesus .. like when nancy and i helped Lukevand Bethany and when we helped 4 kids in Africa, also when we gave a car to a mother and her child … but I also remember when we were helped with a car and other things too.. Helping and receiving help always brings ppl closer to one another and to God.. love your stories
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Thank you Uncle Rick! I didn’t know about all the ways you and Nancy helped those in need. That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing your testimonies! We serve a generous, loving God. 😊🙌
Those times of testing can be tough. Nobody wants to go through them. But, like you’ve experienced, it’s in, it’s during, its through those testing times that we actually open ourselves enough [due to tiredness, strain and stress] to God for Him to truly refine us.
We’ve faced homelessness previously, and a family offered us their home as a safe place for our family – if we needed it. Their cruel withdrawal of that offer was agonising. They decided they didn’t fancy the extra issues it could create.
But, God carried us through none the less.
So I can truly, and authentically, say well done!!
The bible commands us to never turn away a Christian that needs somewhere to stay.
You’ve done that.
Brilliant!! Many would not have done the same.
May God continue to richly bless you as you come into a new season.
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Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this part of your testimony Andy! It breaks my heart to hear that a family rescinded their offer to help you and your family. I’m sorry they gave into fear instead of trusting in God. The cost of love is always worth it. I’m thankful to hear that God was faithful to your family and took care of you. He is the defender of those in need. Thank you for the encouragement! May the Lord Jesus be praised! 🙌
May the Lord Jesus be praised indeed!!
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