How backward we too often have it.... and without knowing or realizing that we've even got it backward. How quickly we become disoriented.
I was reading in a book yesterday. The book made mention of a respected Christian physician in the early 1900s, his name Walter Wilson. Dr. Wilson had a deep love of Scripture and diligently studied the Bible, applying himself to doing everything He found in God's Word. Even though, doing all of that and in spite of all his effort, he felt his life unfruitful.... as in, not seeming to bear the spiritual fruit that we're made to.
He continued his work as a physician and a lay preacher... all the while, frustratingly longing for more. In time he was met by a missionary from France challenging him with a question, "Who is the Holy Spirit to you?" Not being able to answer that to his satisfaction, the question haunted him. Then, on the evening of January 14, 1914, everything changed. Hearing a sermon by Dr. James Gray (a former president of Moody Bible Institute) preached from Romans 12:1, Gray asked, "Have you noticed that this verse does not tell us to whom we should give our bodies? It is not the Lord Jesus... He has His own body. It is not God the Father.. He remains on His throne. Another has come to earth without a body... God gives you the privilege and the indescribable honor of presenting your bodies to the Holy Spirit, to be His dwelling place on earth."
When Wilson was later able to get alone with God he said to Him, "My Lord, I have mistreated You all my Christian life. I have treated You like a servant. When I wanted You, I called for You. When I was about to engage in something important, I beckoned You to come and help me perform my task. I have sought to use You only as a servant to help me in my self-appointed work. I shall do so no more. Lord, I give You this body of mine; from my head to my feet. I give You my hands, my limbs, my eyes and lips, my brain; all that I am within and without. I hand over to You. Live in it the life that You please. You may send this body to Africa, or lay it on a bed with cancer. You may blind my eyes, or send me with Your message to Tibet. You may take this body to the Eskimos, or send it to a hospital with pneumonia. It is Your body from this moment on. Help Yourself to it...."
Wow! What a powerful prayer! After reading it I wondered if we could we say the same? Are we willing to give to that extent that Dr. Wilson just prayed? Would we allow God to send our body to Africa? Would we willingly let Him lay it on a bed with cancer? Uncomplainingly, would we let Him blind us? Or rack our body with pneumonia?
We treat God like our hired servant. We come to Him when we want something, when we want Him to do something, heal something, give something, help something, bless something, provide something, protect something. When we want Him to move us, relocate us, position us, put us in the job or the school or ministry we're wanting. We want Him to keep us free from all sicknesses and diseases. We want Him to prosper us and bless us abundantly. We want Him to do as we've asked Him to do. And when He doesn't? We don't believe in Him, we lose trust in Him, we're disappointed in Him. We feel defeated, rejected, alone, ignored. And because of that (if we can), we often take the matter into our own hands and do as we originally wished to anyway, that He didn't.
Thinking of what Dr. Wilson said, and being that I am where I am in my life right now, and also in the book that I am currently studying in Ruth, may I add to that list of his?
Are you willing that He lay your husband down and put you on a journey of suffering alone all by yourself? Can He take your children from you and you still trust and be willing to serve Him? We want Him to heal our loved one that lays sick or dying... and when He doesn't we shun Him, holler at Him, shake our fists at Him, or refuse to talk to Him. We don't see it as the place and path that He wants us to walk in. And if we do, we quickly think that if this is what God wants from us just to be used as a tool or instrument of His for others to be blessed or learn something from, then we don't want to be the instrument He uses... God, we rebuke, that's not reason enough!
Is it satisfactory to you if He choses to take all that you have due to a famine of some sort or due to the destruction of disaster? Will You let Him take you to prison.... not just as a visitor, but as one that serves with Him as a prisoner there along with those other inmates? Will you feel blessed if His desire is to use you as a single, never meeting your mate to marry, but serving as His bride alone? Can He cripple your legs without your whining and writhing and fighting against Him? Can He strip all that you have and leave you homeless and you still praise His name and joyfully serve Him.... knowing that He has you in the exact place and position that He (before the foundation of the world) purposed and planned for you?
I often think of our bodies as His vehicles; He just needs a willing vehicle to ride in. He needs someone willing to go where He wills for it to. Are we honestly willing to do as He wills... or rather, do we will Him to do only as we do? Is our motto truly "Jesus take the wheel"... or do we say that, but do we instead have our hands firmly gribbing the wheel and beg for Him to bless where we are willing to take Him?
Are we guilty of doing as Dr. Wilson pointed out to us, are we guilty of treating God as our servant instead of us being His? Do we tell Him what we want to do and ask Him to bless it? Do we not like the vehicle He's specifically and individually chosen for us... whatever it is... because it hurts and it's painful and it's not what we'd like to be dressed as or doing?
When we seriously lay our lives before Him to be used as He's planned and prepared it, we get completely out of the way and allow Him to live through us... wherever and however and in whatever way He chooses.... whether that be through death to self or death through someone else or the worse case scenario that our minds can imagine.... Our true thinking then would be: Here am I, Lord, do what You want. May You use me in the manner that truly brings You the greatest glory.
With that mindset, it makes no difference where He places us or in what condition He places us in... we're submitted and trust all that He's doing. And knowing that we're submitted, we know that He's "doing,"... instead of believing that He doesn't care and that He is truly doing nothing at all even when we can't see Him.
What if you could hear Him saying to you now: I am seeking someone to serve Me, but I constantly find that I am the One you're expecting to serve. You bow and pray and ask Me to let you do My will... and then you turn right around and ask Me if I will do yours... all the while fully expecting Me to do it?
Oh Lord, what is the vehicle You've chosen for me that You want to use? The vehicle of poverty, sickness, disease, suffering, sorrow, death, imprisonment...? It's easy to be excited to be used in all of the glorified things that bring us highs and makes us feel good.. yet often He choses to use instead the foolish things of the world. May I be willing, Lord, even in the suffering.... because in all truth, that is mostly when Your light shines the brightest. It's through the hard that You can be seen the easiest and You can get the most glory.
Who (what?) in your life are you truly serving? Are you living to serve your Savior? Or, are spending your life trying to get Him to serve you in whatever the ways that you want Him to do so?
[Reposted today from a last years post because of the conversation I just had with the sweetest lady whose daughter is serving a lot of her life in prison.]