Without Sacrifice There is No Resurrection

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Cara Meredith -Sacrifice and Resurrection3

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post: I had to sit with the word “sacrifice” longer than intended. I had to get to know and dig in and ruminate over its implications before my fingers could type the rest of these words.

There we sat, just sacrifice and me. We sat together in traffic, on bridges and freeways and 25th Avenue alike, in rain and in sun and under partially cloudy skies, too. We sat together in the backyard, when my sons threw Nerf footballs and kicked soccer balls and zoomed around on the hand-me-down dump truck perfectly designed for their compact bodies. We sat together in my office, in and through all the many shoulds: when I should have been grading English papers and I should have been finishing late writing assignments and I should have been updating the children’s immunization records.

I could go on, but after all that sitting, it hit me: without sacrifice, there is no resurrection.

Sacrifice is death. Sacrifice is dying. Sacrifice is Jesus on the cross, and it’s giving up something really, really good, like life itself. But for what: to no longer live?

For some of us, when the negative takes over–even in something as miniscule as a single word–we struggle to find the positive. And because, for reasons I haven’t yet discovered, connotations around the word “sacrifice” have been so viscerally negative, it’s hard for me to see beyond the soil I’ve already dug roots into. So, when it comes to the present, I have to fight through previously held truths to find real, true North.

***

This afternoon, I stood in front of a group of international college students. For three days a week they call me Professor Meredith, which, frankly speaking, makes me giggle in reply. I talked through the specifics of their next paper, a five-paragraph essay with thesis statement and all the basic English paper works. Unlike previous papers, though, they won’t draw from assigned non-fiction articles or fictional short stories. Instead, they’ll formulate a question, and seek answers to their question through observations, interviews or surveys.

“When you make an observation,” I said to the class, “there is the fact of what you’ve observed and the interpretation of what you’ve observed. And you have to be able to distinguish between the two, between fact and your own interpretation.”

Some eyes squinted in recognition, while others stared absentmindedly out the window–for rain beating down on a window is quite fascinating, after all. Some students positioned thumb and forefinger on chin in Aristotle-like fashion, and, as per the usual, the remaining one or two students actually tracking me, shot their hands up in the air for clarification.

But here’s the deal: oftentimes my observation of a person, an event or even a word, is not merely observation, but interpretation.

I’ve grossly misinterpreted sacrifice. I’ve neglected to remember the resurrection that goes along with it–for life happens not without death.

***

French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Andre Gide, said it this way:

“Without sacrifice there is no resurrection. Nothing grows and blooms save by giving. All you can try to save in yourself wastes and perishes.”

When I read his words, I begin to understand. I begin to sense new meaning in an old word. I see in the sacrifice–when, as women, we choose to sacrifice our work in order to parent the tinies, or put our own dreams on hold in order to care for a dying parent, or fill-in-the-blank whatever it is in your own life—a resurrection that happens on the other side. For, just as nothing grows and blooms except by giving [“except” sometimes used as a substitution for “save,” as I believe we find here], we have no choice but to let go.

We have no choice, but to give in to sacrifice.

We have no choice, but to wait and see the new life that emerges on the other side, the newness that springs with resurrection.

So, what is it for you? What sacrifices have you seen in your life that might need a new interpretation tacked onto the front cover? What sacrifices have you seen in the lives of others that might need to be seen through a resurrection lens?

Like me, it might take time to rewrite tangled wires, but life waits, right around the corner. Newness springs from the ground. Hope raises its holy face once again.

So, go and sit with sacrifice for a little while–and see if resurrection pops up on the other side for you, too.

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Cara Meredith
Cara is a writer, speaker and musician from the greater San Francisco Bay Area. She is chipping away at her first book when not searching for the world’s greatest chips and guacamole. She loves people, food, reading, the great outdoors and her family. She and the HBH (Hot Black Husband), try to dance nightly and live life to the fullest with their two young sons.
Cara Meredith
Cara Meredith

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Cara Meredith
  • When her staff came to her with myriad complaints, Amy Carmichael (missionary to India early 1900’s) would say, “See in it a chance to die.” I resist this advice in my every day life — my “rights,” my plans, etc. seem so important in the moment. Thanks for this perspective, because I need reminding that resurrection is the thing that follows sacrifice.

    • Mmmm. Good word, Michele. I read Carmichael’s words years ago, but love that you’ve reminded us of this phrase.

  • Kelley J. Leigh

    Yes. Beautifully said, Cara.

  • Stephanie Thompson

    Your post is timely for me as I’m reading Ann Vos Kamp’sbook The Broken Way. Recently, I’ve realized what a sacred process “giving” is. Giving is indeed sacrifice-it’s offering up something that you perceive to normally grant you comfort-time, money, resources, vulnerability…..When it is sacrificed, new life Springs up. As Ann says, “The abundance comes through the breaking.” The abundance is life. Resurrection. We see Jesus in it. Though the initial expectation of the abundance may have been altered, our eyes are opened and we recognize it. We see Jesus.