Joanna’s Sacrifice

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel, will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age … and in the age to come, eternal life.”

                                                                                                  Mark 10: 29-30

People in general don’t like making sacrifices, and young people, it seems, are especially reluctant to let go of the things they enjoy for the sake of an unseen or future reward. But when God lays it on the the heart of a teenager that something’s got to go, that teenager just might surprise you. And he or she just might get surprised at what transpires, as well.

Our daughter Joanna always loved the Lord dearly. She seemed to enjoy the praise and worship music at church and the contemporary Christian music we played on the local radio station. But somewhere along the way secular music started seeping into our home, and although I didn’t object to the idea of secular music per se, as a parent (and former teen), I knew some lyrics could be inappropriate for a Christian to be listening to.

Joanna’s favorite secular songs were fairly innocuous, but when she bought a CD of her favorite band, a few of their songs made me cringe. When I questioned her about them, I was met with an eye roll and assurance that they weren’t the songs she liked on that album. I dropped the subject and decided I would just pray about it for then.

The weekend of the high school retreat was a quiet one at our house until I answered the phone late Friday night.

I could hear loud music and singing in the background. Apparently the kids were really getting “into” the worship. But something else grabbed my attention: Joanna was crying.

“Mom?” she sobbed.

“What it it, honey?”

“Would you do something for me?”

“Sure, sweetie.”

“You know that _____________ CD?”

“Your favorite?”

“Yeah. Would you go get it?”

“OK … Got it.”

“Are you holding it?”

“Yes …”

“I want you to break it.” (I’ll skip the dialogue where I made sure she was serious and wasn’t going to be livid with me when she got home.) I agreed and did as she said, although I must say, they made those things tough! I struggled for some time while Joanna impatiently kept crying, “Just break it!” (“I’m trying!“) She said she’d explain when she got home, but I already knew God was doing something that weekend.

As I suspected, the youth leader, Chad, had been speaking to the youth about dedicating themselves to the Lord in every area of their lives, including entertainment. Chad had always been passionate about bringing kids into a strong relationship with Christ, and his messages were as emotional as he was. Joanna had commented once, “Even when he yells at us, we can tell he loves us.” During the closing, as the students sang and some went forward for special prayer, God had been dealing with Joanna about the songs she had been listening to. And Joanna had responded in a characteristically emotional outpouring of devotion.

Back home, she spent the rest of the day sitting on the floor in her room in tears, breaking CD’s and pulling tape out of cassettes, until a pile of shards and streamers surrounded her.

I sat next to her and told her how proud I was, but that didn’t seem to cheer her up much. I suggested she take the shards and tape and make a piece of art out of them as a gift for Chad. We got two pieces of driftwood from the beach and nailed them together to make a cross. Joanna then used the tape to hang pieces of broken CDs. Joanna thought it looked like “junk.” I liked it and assured her that Chad would love it.

We named the masterpiece “Sacrifice.”

I was right. When presented with his gift, Chad got tears in his eyes (He and Joanna related.), and said it was about the greatest gift he’d ever received. He told us that he would hang it in his office, to encourage him next time he started feeling that none of the kids were listening to him.

“So, how do you feel now that you’ve purged that music out of your collection?” he asked her, smiling.

“I feel terrible,” she answered frankly, tearing up again. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to listen to now!”

Chad knew just what to do. He brought us to his study, where he had shelves full of dozens, if not hundreds of CD’s – all Christian music.

“I have pretty much every style of music you would like. And you can borrow any of it any time you want. There’s a lot here I think you’d love.”

That day opened up a whole new world for Joanna. She discovered great Christian artists that she could listen to all she wanted, guilt-free. Never without an opinion, she began writing reviews of new albums every month for the youth group newsletter. When a well-known Christian band was in the area for a concert, as a published “music critic,” Joanna was given a backstage pass to interview the band members in their dressing room. (An official badge told the world she was not a “groupie” but a bona fide member of the press!) Her peers had to admit this was “totally awesome.” I was elated for her.

But what made me happiest was knowing that she had obeyed the voice of God, not knowing whether or not she would ever gain anything from the sacrifice she was making.

After all, that is the definition of “sacrifice.”

Prayer: Jesus, You gave everything for us. Forgive us for clinging to things we consider ours, when You long to give us better things. Help us to trust You and make whatever sacrifices necessary to bring You glory. In Your name we pray, Amen.

45 thoughts on “Joanna’s Sacrifice

  1. Loved the post. I am a former Christian radio air personality. When I started that career (1986), I wanted to do just that. Offer up music, quality production, songwriting, and purpose that would serve people like your daughter. I’m grateful to say I did this for almost 30 years. (Still doing some contract work for CCM Classic online station.). God has His music. He knows what moves the hearts and the ears. God’s grip to you & yours.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. God bless you! I remember a young man who used to work at our local Christian store. His “gift” was knowing music – both secular and Christian. A parent or grandparent would go in and tell him, “My child loves Motley Cru” (or Madonna, or Huey Lewis, or whoever) and he could tell them what Christian artists had a comparable sound with better lyrics. It was quite a unique ministry.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Ha, yes, I would do the same when listeners would call asking if there was a CCM band that sounds a bit like so-n-so. That was pretty common. Radio, records & retail, in the Christian arena, work very closely together.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a great story! When people wonder why I do not listen to anything other than Christian or classical music, I say, “I am very sensitive to what I sing to myself and God!” I am so glad your daughter learned not to recited worldly voices and messages to herself! Thank you for encouraging my heart!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I went the other way. Grew up on secular music. Didn’t think there was Christian music aside from psalms. When I found out there is religious music, all I thought was “lame songs”. Turns out I just needed a bigger variety. There is SO much good stuff. In various genres.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Ann for this post. I pray that if any teenagers read it they let it change how they decide what to listen to.
    So glad that God has put all these stories in your life and that you share them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this article Ann. Music can be very subtle or outright blatant and whether one realizes it or not, it can effect how you think over time, for good or for bad. It is especially difficult to deal with as a parent and it would appear that you and the Lord handled it much better than I did when our children were teens. Excellent post! Grace and blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I was in middle school, my younger brother and I were addicted to playing our Nintendo DS games together. I always justified having the gaming system because it allowed me to spend time with him, even though I spent even more time on it without him. One summer we both were on a mission trip together and I felt the Lord telling me to give my DS away. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t God and gave him so many excuses as to why I should keep it, but he wouldn’t relent. I went over to my brother and told him I felt like God was telling me to give my DS away, expecting him to be sad or at least understanding but a little disappointed at the same time, but he immediately responded with, “I felt him telling me that too!” So when we got home, we both packaged up our handheld devices and games and gave them away to friends we knew would want them and get good use out of them, but not be able to afford one themselves. It was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done. To this day, I still make a habit of getting rid of things that take up too much time or that I find myself addicted to or that obviously get in the way of my relationship with Jesus. Freedom is everything!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Coffee is a real addiction! If I was paid to be addicted to stuff I would be richer than Bill Gates… Thankfully, if that were the case, I would have a loving Father instructing me to give those riches away for the benefit of everyone involved. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Annie, this post brought tears to my eyes because of how you prepared your daughter to face life’s challenges. I went to church by myself all my childhood. For the most part, that meant no youth groups, just Sunday services. I know now that when I went away to college, I was not prepared to stand strong in faith, so I was led astray, far from Jesus. Youth Groups, Sunday School, Church Choirs, and all these programs are vital to a child’s Christian development. Your post drives that fact home. Thank you. Blessings, Annie!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cindy, thanks SO much for telling me this. I’m sorry you had to go it alone as a child, but obviously God had His hand on you. We were indeed blessed with the youth group our children attended.
    By the way, I contacted Chad via Facebook and pointed him to the blog. He got back to me later and said it was just what he needed. 🙂 He had some encouraging words for me as a writer, too. He also mentioned that he now owns a publishing company … “Just sayin’ …” 😀

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  9. Love this!!! Yet another post of yours I’ll be sharing with my family!! Praying it will be an inspiration to my oldest daughter, she has a liking for country music and there’s a lot of it that has a poor message..I’m hoping this post might speak to her heart along with me quietly praying over this matter! Thanks for sharing!!

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  10. I like country music, too – I was writing country gospel songs for a while. There seem to be a lot of Christians in that genre. It seems every country song is either godly and family-oriented or raunchy.
    Yes, quietly praying over the matter has more influence than we could ever imagine. 😉

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  11. What a wonderful testimony and hopefully just the first of many times she will obey the Lord’s prompting. The world(Satan) is so clever at destroying that ‘on fire’ faith that many teens have. One day maybe I will write about my first time at youth camp, as an adult. I never went as a teen, but going as a chaperone had a huge impact on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Joanna is now 40 and has three children of her own. She has been through peaks and valleys, and the Lord has always been there for her. I am so blessed to know that all three of my children love the Lord, married godly spouses, and are raising our five grandchildren to love Him, too. ❤

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  13. Loved loved loved…. reading this post nearly brought tears to my eyes because she’s a teenager and she sacrificed something she really liked. I have to say this post spoke to me because I was going back and forth to hip hop to r&b to Christian music. So I have two teenagers and they love secular music so it was kind of hard for me but I prayed about it and that voice told me don’t go back to your old music keep listening to your Christian music and that’s what I been doing I kind of fell off this week but not anymore.. I told my teenagers if that’s what you guys want to listen to that’s on you but it will not be played in my car.. put on your earphones… so I ask that you all as a community to pray for my teenagers to get closer to Christ… Thanks in advance… I’m happy for your daughter and you helped me with my sacrifice as well.. Thank you Thank you… May God Bless you and your family…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sherita, feel free to share Joanna’s story with your teenagers. You never know what might inspire them.
      Also, ask someone who is knowledgeable in musical genres whether there is Christian music that has the same style your kids like. It’s usually not the lyrics that attract people to songs initially. Praying your input and your example are having their impact, even if you can’t see it at first.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Powerful Story Ann! It was so dramatic and final to break the CDs. I think a lot of times we just put stuff away and figure on a rainy day we will revisit. But, God called her away from it and she followed through. Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Diane. Joanna is grown now, with three children of her own, but I am so encouraged to see that she loves the Lord, is married to a godly man, and is raising our grandchildren to love Him, too. Now I’m focused on being godly “Nana.” 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for directing me to this post 🙂 I guess I need to do some serious searching on YouTube for some music that “speaks” to me! I am so glad to hear the testimony of your daughter. God Bless her and you!

    Liked by 1 person

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