I just had an interesting thought. In my first Pentecostal church, there was a whole lot of singing about sacrifice.
I will Give You All
“God spoke to Abraham and said, give your only son, to offer as a sacrifice to the one you love. Lord if you ask of me to give, the very thing that I love the best, give me the courage and the strength to be willing to say yes”
I want to Live the Way You Want Me to Live
“I want to live, the way, you want me to live. I want to give, until there’s just no more to give. I want to love, love til there’s just no more love. I could never, ever out love the Lord”
Songs like that. And in most churches I was familiar with there was a lot of talk about “sacrificial offerings”, “sacrificial giving”, “giving everything to Jesus”, “giving Jesus your very best”, “dying daily”, “crucifying the flesh”, “putting the flesh under subjection”, and so forth. They asked often enough in my former church if we were willing to die for Jesus that I even had a nightmare that incorporated that question.
There was a lot of talk about sacrifice, giving, and such, but little talk of love and Jesus’ sacrifice for us (unless it was to say we needed to do the same for Him). Can you imagine thinking of your spouse only in terms of what you should give, how obligated you are to him/her, how much you will have to give up for him/her, and how bad it will be for you if you don’t?! That’s not love at all. Dedication, maybe. Obligation, absolutely. Fear, probably. But it isn’t love.
I got a hold of a CD about a year and a half or so before I left. There was a song on it that said
“Just to draw close to thee, that’s where I long to be, let me hide myself in your heart to find my destiny. Every step I take, is one less step I need, to be in your presence, and close to thee.”
“There is none like You. No one else can touch my heart like you do. I can search through all eternity, Lord, and find there is none like you.
Your mercies flow like a river wide, and healing comes from your hand. Suffering children are safe in your arms. There is none like you…”
When things got bad at church, I’d close my eyes and start singing one of those to myself. I’d sing my own song to God and remember that what I was seeing and hearing didn’t reflect Who the Bible said God was.
Those are still some of my favorite songs today. God gave me strength and peace through them when I needed it most.