I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12 :1
And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering. For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me. Numbers 8:15-16
There is no sound on earth that can compare for pathos to the desperate cry of a mother to God. As fathers, we love. But there is a divinely imparted connection between mother and child that transcends the male sensibility. There is a possession. For a mother to relinquish a child to the scythe of death means tearing, and ripping, and rending. So it was on one occasion when a mother rolled around in her mind the brooding possibility that her child would succumb. It seemed that God was bent on separating them, so the choice to give away was perhaps easier than for others, but not really. The transaction she entered upon was as binding as any sworn oath before men, and more so for having been made to God. “Lord, if you’ll save him, I’ll give him to you.” It was done, at least on her side, and the rending gave way to healing. The tearing gave way to mending, and God ultimately brought health to a sick little boy, and salvation to a lost little family.
It is one thing to be given, and another thing to give yourself. I never knew my mother’s arrangement with God until years later, after I made my own transaction. I think that was good, since God was free to do the prodding without interference. When I at last gave way, I thought that “surrendering” to serve the Lord with my whole life was the end. The rest would light on the hills and walks through the woods, and the joys of ministry. But I have come to appreciate, in some small measure, that a living sacrifice is, nonetheless, still a sacrifice. Sacrifices are consumed, and then the only thing worth keeping, “the fragrance,” ascends to God. There is a giving away, and then a dying, and then the altar, and then there is the fire. All are absolutely necessary for an acceptable presentation to God, and all are completely reasonable. We know the fire is most difficult, but only if the sacrifice has not died first. But the fire, a symbol of the Spirit’s consuming presence, is also glorious.
The “living” sacrifice stays on the altar for a lifetime so that its fragrance never stops ascending. The giving away never stops and neither does the dying. The consecrated believer is always consecrating, always presenting, always yielding, and always burning. I think one envisions himself as a “choice servant of God” when he first steps into the sacrificial depths of consecrated living, only to discover that he has now just become “acceptable.” But “acceptable” is perfect, because it lets Christ be the only one who is Wonderful. In this daily life of surrender, there is a light on the hills, and walking through the woods with the Savior, and the joy of His presence alone.
Written by Colin Richards. This article was published in the Spring 2007 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.
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