Clouds hovered ominously, the day our cruise ship stopped at Belize. It began to drizzle as we got off the tender and lined up to board the bus. Since we’d hoped to escape the cold and rain at home, this was a bit of a disappointment. At least the temperature was supposed to stay in the 70’s, so that was encouraging. But during the 45 minute bus ride, the sun came out and warmed our bones as we got off at the Altun Ha, Mayan ruins.  
It stayed warm and sunny through our tour, outdoor lunch, and two hour boat ride. We sighted howler monkeys, crocodiles, bright orange male iguanas along the river, and telltale bubbles of manatees surfacing for air in the Bay. 

What a treat to see and climb the ruins of this civilization from centuries before. The excavated sites reveal some of what life was like so long ago. What touched me most about their culture was how willing they were to sacrifice in worship. Their lives centered on gruesome sacrifices to the gods they believed controlled the sun, rain, and harvest.  
Our tour guide told us about a ball game that apparently determined who would be the supreme sacrifice. It was not the loser who lost his life, but the winner. They fed their deities the blood of the best to buy their favor. 
“Religion Facts” describes the gory ritual: “At important ceremonies, the sacrificial victim was held down at the top of a pyramid or raised platform while a priest made an incision below the rib cage and ripped out the heart with his hands. The heart was then burned in order to nourish the gods.” http://www.religionfacts.com/mayan_religion/
Being royalty didn’t excuse them from having to participate, either.  The king and queen practiced blood offerings in priest-like fashion. The queen would pierce her tongue and run a thread entwined with thorns and rock chips, capturing the blood for a burnt offering. The king did the same, only he ran the thread through his manly part. You can only imagine the pain they endured, not just once, but again and again, to please these blood thirsty gods. The Indiana Jones’ movies pale in comparison.
How sad they worked so hard to satisfy gods who did not love them! They unknowingly worshiped demons who delighted in their terror, futile efforts, and tortuous pain. All the while, they had a Creator worthy of worship, who loved them, and longed to show them tender mercy. They were willing give their all to reach for what they knew was out there – a force more powerful and knowing than themselves.

For all who seek Him, the true God of the Universe is available and knowable. He sent His Son Jesus to show us the way to Him. He died in our place. He doesn’t require our blood, but He does want our hearts. The wise serve Him in fear, not because He is capricious, but because He is sovereign. The Mayans did have one thing right, however – God deserves our best, not our leftovers. He is worthy of more than Sunday-only scripture readings, mealtime prayers, a nod at Christmas and Easter, and occasional pocket change. He deserves our first and best attention, energies, and gratitude. 
The best part of being a livingsacrifice is that instead of meaningless pain and depleted resources, the Sovereign God multiplies our gifts to Him, and pours them back on us. He gives joy, contentment, laughter, love, hope, and best of all, himself. 
I’m so thankful to know God, The Creator who reaches out to us day after day. If you’ve been yearning for spiritual answers, yet your search has only multiplied your fear and uncertainty, could it be you’ve been searching in the wrong places? I pray you will give God a try. Reach out to Him; speak to Him in whatever way you know how and ask Him to reveal himself to you. He is waiting. “‘Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:12-14, NIV).

#youcanknowGod #whatGoddoyouserve  #Godwhobledforyou #Goddeservesthebest #Mayanworship