When Sacrifice Isn’t Really . . . Sacrifice

by | Aug 31, 2012 | Uncategorized

We’re loading boxes into the moving van when the phone rings on the floor of the empty living room.  It’s a call from the Office of the Registrar letting H know of his acceptance into the master’s program at seminary.  We look at each other and laugh.

Maybe it was an assumption on our part, packing up before the official call, but we knew we heard from God. Heard him say seminary through the voice of our pastor and then all the details, they just fell into place.

One ordinary Sunday, our pastor walks off the platform, puts his hands on H’s shoulders, looks him in the eye and tells him he has a call on his life for vocational ministry. We walk to the car holding hands silent and cry until we’re the last car parked on the lot. His words, a confirmation of what our hearts already know.

My husband had just completed a five year architectural degree.

We sell his car to a friend for a month of deposits, pack up wedding gifts, and drive from Phoenix to a small town in southeastern Tennessee. A town we’d never heard of before. A short window exists between our bank account and finding employment, not to mention a place to live.

Twenty-two years and eight moves later, I’ve never doubted that decision of crossing the threshold into a vocation of sacrifice.

On the days of wearing coats and gloves while making dinner because heat seems extravagent, I never doubted Him.

On the days wondering how we’ll eat, and a bag of groceries show up on the doorstep, I never doubted Him.

On the days when those who invite you to sit in the seat of prominence, turn their backs like they never knew you, I never doubted Him.

On the days of steely-eyed confrontation and pointed finger disapproval over lunch at their house, I never doubted Him.

On the days when your husband lays out weary from the expectations of others, I never doubted Him.

On the days when unjust acts in the name of righteousness make me want to surrender, I never doubted Him.

On the days loneliness inhabits my marrow, I’ve never doubted Him.

Because all these moments of sacrifice in the work we call ministry, they lay on the grassy knoll under a weathered cross. And when I look up from my place at His feet, I want to catch the tears dripping from his eyes in my cupped hand and remember how redemption feels.  Redemption, it’s why I’ve never doubted Him.

I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. I Corinthians 1:18

I’m sharing My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. To discover more about the book and to read others’ Hazardous stories, click here.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson)

    Foolishness, yes. When, oh when, did I ever get the ridiculous notion that the journey of faith was going to make sense?

  2. Janet Roth

    Beautiful post!

  3. Lynn Morrissey

    What a beautiful post, Shelly. You and your husband made such humble and multiple sacrifices for the ministry to which God has called you, done out of hearts of love, devotion, and trust. And you put it all in perspective….despite how great our sacrifice, Jesus sacrificed it all for us. It’s because of what He did, that we are able to do the hard things, as you and your husband did. I commend you and H for putting Christ first, for paying the price, for going the distance. There is hazard and risk in following the Lord–but oh the reward–catching His tears in cupped hands, and knowing that He catches yours. I’m so grateful for your sharing.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It all seems like a sacrifice until compared to what Jesus does for us. Thanks for your sweet card btw, we’re on our way to the memorial service for my brother now.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        OhSHelly……such a hard day for you!! Praying for God’s comfort and grace–for fond remembrances, beauty from ashes, and above all for God to *redeem* this for good. Bless you dearest one.

  4. Anne

    Thanks be to God for the comfort of knowing in all things He is always there. Thanks goodness it still amazes how God gives joy in the middle of difficult times. How the unexpected always comes from Him when you think there is nothing left. To just turn on the music and let the praises roll in your mind and from the lips is so lifting. Shelly you so inspire me with your words. Keep them coming my friend.

  5. dianewbailey

    I love hazardous God Stories! LIfe with God is not always easy or safe, but it is an adventure I wouldn’t miss for the world.

  6. suzannah | the smitten word

    a life of ministry isn’t easy, but it is good indeed. blessings on your sacrifice.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Susannah, appreciate your visit here.

  7. Jillie

    Shelly…beautifully worded once again. It was so good to read more of your “hazardous” story. Keep your eyes on the Prize…the crown of righteousness is yours! And. so. much. more.!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m trying to keep my eyes on Him in all things Jillie. Thanks for your encouragement.

  8. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    I love how when we look back on all the hard or confusing times, it’s then that we can spot the “fourth man” in the fire with us all along (like Shadrach…). May you know His carrying you through today at the memorial service, Shelly…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Love that fourth man reference Pam, and He’s definitely been with us this weekend.

      • Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

        I’m so glad, Shelly. That reference has been in my mind since you and Kim C (Always alleluia) inspired me to blog my own “hazardous” story yesterday. Definitely the One who has carried my own life through many fires. Peace on the rest of your weekend!

  9. edcyzewski (@edcyzewski)

    What an incredible story of hazardous faith. God has been faithful indeed, even when it seems you’re hanging by a thread at times. We were called in the opposite direction. I got my seminary degree and then God called me to write! All the same, he has provided for us even if it’s a bit nerve-wracking sometimes. Thanks so much for sharing this story. It’s such an encouragement.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad you were encouraged by this story Ed and thanks for the writing prompt. It was a bit cathartic. Look forward to your book.

  10. Sandra Heska King

    So instead of helping to build buildings, he’s helping to build souls. Kind of cool. 🙂

  11. Ben Nelson

    God is so faithful. Thanks for this great testimony!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Ben, thanks for reading and for the follow. Its a pleasure to have you part of this community.

      • Ben Nelson

        Glad to run into you! Thanks

  12. Amy

    Oh Shelly, I get this. My sacrifices haven’t really cost me nearly what I sometimes think they do. I have been given so much more than I could ever ask or imagine!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It seems like so much to give up at times but I get perspective when I compare my sacrifice to his. I know you get that Amy.

  13. Ells....ro elliott

    I love this…catching the tears of redemption…and yes this is why we leave all to follow…beautiful.
    I actually just joined in…last minute…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I decided to join at my last minute too. So glad I did, its good to remember where i’ve come from.

  14. Tanya Marlow

    I loved this – such a great reminder of the privilege and sacrifice – and foolishness!- of Christian ministry – and the wisdom of never doubting in God. Your writing just sang to me of God’s goodness – thank you.

  15. Barb

    Ahh, I just found your blog again! I’d tried to find it again before but couldn’t remember the name – the last time I read it was back when you had your beautiful garden pix of England. Love this story of your husband’s callin. My son is in his fourth year of a five year engineering degree and I kind of wonder if the same thing isn’t going to happen to him. I’m starting a study on the temptations (or challenges) of blogging and ministry on Tuesday on my blog so it was also interesting to read of some of your husband’s challenges.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh my Barb, that has been awhile. That was back in May actually. So glad we could reconnect. Assuming you found me again through Ed’s synchroblog. I’ll have to check out your new series tomorrow, sounds intriguing.

  16. lolitavalle

    Oh, how I love that grassy knoll where all of us redeemed are.

    So grace filled post of your hazardous life (of following His call), Shelly. I am so honored to catch it.

    I am late, but I hope the healing has began, by His grace, as your family have finally laid your brother to rest. (Praying in echo to Lynn’s prayer.)…. claiming redemption over this episode

    • Redemption's Beauty

      We actually laughed joy after the memorial service. One of our relatives is a humorous story teller. It was a blessing to have him there to take the heavy veil off for a few moments. Laughter truly is like a good medicine to heal the weary soul.

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