Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Ahhh, this is what I am made for . . . .
There have been moments. When everything within me leapt in joy. When exhilaration was my exhalation, and wonder and gratitude my inbreath. When everything about me felt I was dreaming because I felt so, so good. When I knew, ahh this is what I am made for.
I've been pondering those moments. And I've been pondering a particular scripture I've known for years, but have never pondered in just this way before. Romans 12:1 says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." It's one of those verses that has left me more than a little scared. I've always thought, always been taught, that to present oneself wholly to God as a sacrifice was to put to death the thing in you that desires to have desire fulfilled. It's to live estranged from one's own self, which is now dead to self, and put to better use serving God. Living as a servant. Or a slave rather. Bound, and sad, and bereft. That is what God wants right?
And yet the Spirit is telling me NO! Today the Spirit is telling me NO!
I hear the Spirit saying, "I did not mean that at all!" In fact, I hear the Spirit saying just the very opposite.
Because the scripture goes on to say that we are members of one body, differently made for different purposes. Although we belong to one another, we are individuals, who are differently gifted by Grace! See what the Spirit is saying to us:
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individuallywe are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in dilligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. Romans 12:4-8
Each one of us is given a different grace. God's desire is that we live into the grace He gave us. In fact it is woven into our very being; we have a natural leaning toward this gifting. And naturally we are no good at other pursuits. This is how it should be. I just hate it that the enemy of our souls can so easily convince us that we are supposed to do the thing we hate, the thing we are no good at, the thing that other girl can do. Shouldn't we be able to do it too? I hate it how the enemy twists God's Word so that we think we are doing God a favor by being miserable, instead of having the courage to be who we are made to be. The enemy convinces us that the greater sacrifice is trying to squeeze ourselves into somebody else's image, no matter how much it hurts. Yet the Spirit says we are given Grace to live into God's image; Grace is the grease of life that facillitates the living. The Spirit alive in us is not drudgery and obligation. The Spirit alive in us is joy!
So then why the sacrifice? What is it that has to die if there is so much joy in being a living sacrifice, living into the Spirit's call (or "inner wooing" as T.D. Jakes would say)? We die to the expectations that we've been trying to live up to for so long, ours and everybody else's. That's not easy. Because the road to answering God's Grace is never paved with certainties. And we will have to disappoint some folks. For people pleasers that can been harrowing. Unthinkable. The sacrifice for us then is to think the unthinkable. To live the unthinkable. To know in the center of one's being that God's sufficiency is all we need to live and do what we were created for. Truth be told, that is the only sufficiency we've got. Everyone else will disappoint us along the way. And that's okay. Someday our lives can be an encouragement to them to follow their own dreams.
In the meantime we are to live the sacrifice that we are, dying to certitude and approval so we may live to inspiration and exhilaration. Romans 12:2 actually describes this process quite well: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect." I love that God's promise to us is that we WILL be able to know God's will for us. I LOVE that when we see God's will we will recognize it because it will be GOOD, ACCEPTABLE, and PERFECT! We will say to ourselves, "Why didn't I think of that?" We will know it as our destination because everything within us will recognize our truest self within it.
I believe the renewal God seeks from us is not renewing our passion for Him, but getting it in our heads that He is PASSIONATE for us! We did not die for Him to have life. He died, that we might have LIFE and have it more abundantly. Not just eternally later on. But abundantly now. HE died for us. Our renewal, our spiritual act of worship, everyday, is to LIVE FOR HIM. When I am more willing to live for Him than I am willing to live a dead life, then I am transformed. Then my mind is renewed. Then I am a living sacrifice.