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  • Writer's pictureTaryn D

The Bathroom Floor

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

“And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.” Psalm 26:7

One morning, I was caught by what appears be an oxymoron in scripture: “Sacrifice of Joy”. I wrote these three words on a piece of floral stationary and taped it to my kitchen wall. I stared at them regularly for about a year, pondering. Seeking. Wanting to offer God the kind of praise that he wants. What makes praise sacrificial? It’s repeated throughout scripture, so we know it's important. What is the quality of worship that moves the heart of The King?

The hardest thing to give to God is often the thing that will set us free. Maybe it's faith in ourselves. Maybe it's fear of scarcity. Or of people. Maybe it's an attachment to success and prosperity by the world's standards. Or bitterness against someone who caused deep pain. Maybe it's even family.

God speaks to us when he tested Abraham to see if he was willing to sacrifice his beloved, son, Isaac, who had taken up more love and priority in Abraham's life than God. It's a foreshadow of God sacrificing his only begotten son, to reconcile us back to him. Wow. For me, the hardest thing to sacrifice is my will and my own understanding. And, at times in my life, it's been all of the above.

Accepting suffering is hard. It has been for me. I have begged and despaired in prayer for deliverance from illness. I've been mad at God. I've wailed my fists on his chest until I grow limp in his hug-hold. I still pray for healing, because I know he can. Some days, it's easier to say, "thy will be done" than others.

Paul asked three times for God to take away his affliction. God responded, "My grace is sufficient."

I'm sure that's not what Paul wanted to hear. Yet, he boasted in his weakness because he knew it was the place that God would be strongest in Him. Do we long to see the goodness of the Lord, even if it means that it will be revealed through pain and suffering? Or, do we worship the god of "feelings" and insist on comfort? Only one of these builds character.

By God's grace alone, our faith can grow stronger than our feelings. His tenderness and promises scatter anger and worry about what it would mean if God doesn't heal. We can hang on to John 1:5, which tells us that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

I know darkness. Fear rises. God's promises defeat it by attrition. The wind howls loudly, but we can trust him to lead me in the valley as closely as a child in their parent's sure, warm arms.

In God’s presence is “fullness of joy.” (Psalm 13:11) It wouldn't be a very full joy if it were diminished by temporary pain. Would we appreciate the miracle and magnitude of the joy of the Lord, had we not found it permeating even the most agonizing days? In sorrow and in disappointment? The joy of the the cross is like an intrepid soldier that treads grief-stricken deserts, over blood and tears, because it knows where the fountain is. The fountain that never runs dry.

The apostle Paul wrote, "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 12:11)

We receive more grace from God, face down on the bathroom floor than we do in any high and lofty place.

When we leave our will in his hands and take joy in the mystery of the cross way, we offer a sacrifice of praise. In fact, we become living sacrifices of praise. Praising what Jesus accomplished from the mud is a precious sacrifice to the Lord, who loves us enough to allow hardship to refine us into more of the likeness of Jesus. Jesus, who defeated sin with all of its sickness, disease, and trauma. Jesus, who set our spirits free through faith, given to us as his grace.

God describes himself this way: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matt 11:29)

Trials are promised to followers of Christ. Until we become low, we can't wash the feet of Jesus with our tears. Unless we become lowly, we can't leave any of our burdens at his feet. The incense of our prayer only travels upwards. The fragrance of our worship rises to the throne of grace. Just as a river cannot flow against gravity, but only down into valleys, the grace of God runs downhill. To the low places. Let hardships be messengers of God's grace.

God is out to bless his kids. God answers yes to far more prayers than we notice, because he answers in ways that feel sometimes feel like the opposite. When we ask God to use us to minister to people in our lives, or to refine us and make us holy, he always answers yes. He answers yes to everything we pray in accordance to his will (1 John 5:14). But, his route to the yes often requires gritty submission to his way and his timing. The relinquishment of our understanding is a sweet offering to a wise Father. Obedience is a sacrifice that demonstrates trust. It's worship.

Illness chastens us. It can come to heal the deeper, more dangerous spiritual diseases that human hearts are riddled with. But, it also acts as a witness to disclose the deeper treasure that we keep in broken jars of clay - everlasting life. Jesus Christ.

God sometimes allows tragedy to happen as a mercy, so that we can see how bankrupt we are. Then, we can inherit the kingdom.

See the beatitudes in Matthew 5:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

I think of the hymn from scripture, "On Christ, the solid rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand." When I have one foot on the sand of my "self" and this broken, sinking world, I find myself becoming anxious and angry. What's in the heart comes out in the temper. In snappy, defensive comments or festering grudges born out of the fear of what I know to be true about myself and lack of faith in what is true about God.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matt 5:8) A cluttered heart is an impure heart that can't really see Him. A heart that doesn't know him well. It can't, because the self will must be crucified in order for God to move us into that degree of glory. "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (1 Cor 3:18)

We may want to experience this glory. We may hunger for it. But, do we complain about the means of attaining it? We don't want to suffer the humiliation of trials, but yet, we want the kingdom. We've worked to build ourselves up in the world. We don't feel like putting some things on the cross.

Cross comes from the latin "excruciat" because this means of death was the most torturous in that day. Becoming Christ - like requires making excruciating sacrifices. If God puts his finger on something that hurts, that is the very thing we must lay on the altar. It's the thing that makes us bleed a little that gives way to new life. It's meant to deliver us, bless us, and bring God glory.

Before we think that the true Christian life leaves us endlessless wallowing on the floor, we need to behold the prize that takes us higher than we could ever climb. God wants us to know him and commune with him. Many live for the principal of God, but few know Him intimately. This communion meets our deepest desires, and his. God rewards those who seek him diligently. (Heb. 11:16) It's a sweet thing, to be carried through life by the Holy Spirit. Let us not be content to dwell in the outer courts of his tabernacle, when the Holy of Holies invites us closer. Let trials be the usher unto greater communion with Jesus.

Proverbs 3 tells us to not lean on our own understanding. If there is one commandment that I disobey the most, it's this one. And, it's a thief of peace. The love that God personally pours out to us, through Christ, is so lavish and richly satisfying that everything else just grows dim in its brightness. All guilt. All condemnation. Worry. Striving. It is in this light that we begin to forget ourselves. That is real freedom.

We can learn a lot from the way the roots of a seed reach low into the soil of the earth before they are summoned into the sky. Pride is like a bloom planted head-down. It brings death, not life.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17) God is out to bless the weak. He moves heaven and earth to lift the humble. He brings us low to bless us with himself. It's the meek who inherit the earth. (Matt 5:5) I love God's upside-down kingdom. It's a miracle, the way the cross makes it all, somehow, right side up.

Wherever we are, just as we are, we can come to Jesus. When we release the things we keep with a white-knuckled-grip, he hears the song in our hearts, "You are worthy of this."

This is the life that moves the heart of the Father. This is the sacrifice of praise.

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