“I didn’t ask for this,” I thought. My eyes brimmed with tears as I recalled the words I’d just written to someone reaching out for help. A son was dying from cancer. Could I offer some words of wisdom to the weary parents who could no longer form a prayer?
My heart lurched as I thought of words to offer – words that would help another family facing harsh and heavy days as ours had faced.
I wrote, “God knows how it feels to have a son die. God knows and He feels our pain and has compassion on us. I do not know why there is no miracle or healing for so many. I believed my son would be healed or at least live until ‘science’ found a cure. But that’s not the outcome we got. What I know is that God is good and God loves us. And one day every promise will be fulfilled and every crooked place made straight and every tear dried.”
“I didn’t ask for this.” Although I had not voiced the words, there was a reply.
“Yes, you did.”
In the instant it took me to expel a sigh, a mental video played specific moments in the past when I’d told God the following:
*Break my heart with what breaks yours.
*I surrender my life to You. Use it as You will.
*I belong to You. I am Your bondservant.
*Do what you will with me, Father.
*Redeem every bit of good from my pain.
As these moments in my life flashed through my mind, I had to agree with God.
“Yes. I did ask for this.”
Perhaps I did not realize the heaviness of such requests. Perhaps I did not count the cost of extreme commitment. Perhaps I did not consider the many tears I would shed on behalf of others suffering as they wrestle with illness, death and spiritual matters.
Nevertheless, I will say with Paul, “…if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:17, NKJV).
This passage from Philippians is starred in my Bible and the words “drink offering” underlined. Even before my son Andrew’s first symptom which led to a diagnosis of brain cancer, I had been drawn to this verse in Philippians. I remember asking God what it meant to be a “drink offering.”
In early September 2009, we sat in a hospital room waiting to hear the results of Andrew’s biopsy. A “doctor friend” of mine that I had not seen in years got in touch with me when he heard the news about my son. He filled me in on research, drugs, treatment and then said, “If they don’t find anything in the gray matter that would be good news.”
After thanking my friend for his concern and ending the call, I nervously fidgeted in my chair. Friends and family were gathered, talking quietly as we waited. My pastor sat across from me and I shared with him my recent attention to the concept of the drink offering. I asked him to read the passage to me from Philippians 2. His Bible open on his lap, he began to read.
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ…Let nothing be done through selfish ambition…Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others…taking the form of a bondservant…He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death…it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure…among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”
A knock came at the door and we were called to meet with the neurologists. We stood in a small room as a doctor used his pen to point out areas on the image of my son’s brain. And then he said, “There are three lobulated lesions in his gray matter.”
The room spun, my heart dropped to the floor and I began to cry. Gray matter.
The Drink Offering
In the Bible a “drink offering” is a part of Israel’s worship. “After the priest offered a lamb, a ram, or a bull as a burnt offering, he poured wine beside the altar. This was the last act in the sacrificial ceremony, all of which symbolized the dedication of the believer to God in worship,” (net.bible.org – Constable’s Notes).
The greater offering is the burnt offering – the actual sacrifice. The drink offering is poured out after the burnt offering and is the culmination of the sacrifice.
No longer are burnt offerings necessary for the payment of sin. Christ Himself became “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2, NJKV).
The Apostle Paul was willing to lay down his life for the sake of Christ. He penned the words, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor…” (Philippians 1:21:22 NKJV). Paul wrote that we Believers should imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11:1 NKJV).
Dying to the flesh is often one small choice followed by another to “lay down our lives.” When you put aside your comfort and reach out to another to offer comfort, you have an opportunity to die to the flesh. To live in this way is living Christ. As followers and disciples of Christ, He has already made the ultimate sacrifice once for all (Hebrews 7:27). But what we have to offer is a type of drink offering of our lives, where we pour ourselves out upon the sacrifice and service of the faith of another.
Pouring Out Life
“They really need some encouragement” is how the concerned family member ended her message to me.
May I pour out a little life on your faith? May I offer a few “wise words” to encourage you when you are sorrowfully discouraged?
- God is for you. Even when you feel He isn’t, He is.
- God is at your side. Even when you feel He’s left, He hasn’t.
- God hears you. Even when you can’t form another prayer, He reads your heart.
- God will redeem every sorrow—even when it seems the heartache will never end.
Though it may cost me something, it’s my privilege to encourage you. Though the price I pay is sometimes spent in tears, it’s my honor to pour myself out for you.
You see, I asked for it.
© 2012 Melanie Dorsey
Are you living out a request you made to God and perhaps haven’t realized it? What have you asked Him for lately?