Monday, November 11, 2013

Living Sacrifice

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2, ESV).

Without rereading the verses in the photo above, if I were to ask you what Romans 12:1 says to offer God as a living sacrifice, what would you say? Offer yourself as a living sacrifice? Offer your heart as a living sacrifice?

To my discredit, even having memorized these verses long ago, if you had asked me to answer that question on a Bible quiz show with no time for reflection, I probably would have said "offer yourself" instead of "offer your body." I had learned the words but not digested their meaning yet.

Multiple chronic illnesses have a way of making a person reexamine her assumptions about a lot of things, and in my experience they have also taken me deeper into the Scriptures as manna to feed my deep hunger day by day. At some point in the last 3 1/2 years of health trials, it finally dawned on me that my interpretation of Romans 12:1 did not actually match the text. (I'm quick like that.) Other places do call us to offer ourselves to God, but here the Holy Spirit through Paul the apostle calls us to offer our bodies to God.

This thought has resided in me even more during these last few weeks of preparing for, undergoing, and recovering from gallbladder surgery. My surgery pain is much, much better than a week ago; my digestion's ability to adapt to the absence of the gallbladder is improving, but oh so slowly. Every time I sigh with discontent over another bowl of Cream of Wheat for breakfast or not being able to eat pizza for Sunday supper or an almond butter sandwich for lunch, the Lord reminds me that this temporary, medically-imposed "fast" from fatty and flavorful foods is one more opportunity for worship. Will I offer my body's nutritional limitations to Him as worship, or will I grumble and complain? Will I yield to Him or fight tooth and nail? In view of His abundant, glorious mercies on my life, will I offer my body as a living sacrifice?

"We must do that which we know we cannot — to prove that it’s our God who cannot fail. Our God appoints those who will disappoint — to point to a God who never disappoints.

Everything your Father has for you-- is over the fence of fear. Travel in the direction of your fears--to let God direct your life."

Another God-sized challenge awaits me towards the end of this week. The size of the "altar" intimidates me, but I believe the path of obedience in this case means leaving my comfort zone far behind in the rear-view mirror. It means presenting my body to God again, come what He wills. Where God leads, He will sustain, and I'm counting on Him to sustain and come through for me as I follow Him. Like Piglet in the Pooh stories, I am a Very Small Animal (Are there Heffalumps on I-35?); but I am a Very Small Animal with a Very Big God.

"The antidote to fear is to anchor our lives in the character of God."

When feeling discontent with the present or fear for the future, I try but often fail to remember times past when God has shown Himself strong for me in my weaknesses. I remember His faithfulness. I remember His mercies in saving me in the first place and keeping me these 26 years. And eventually I say yes. Here I am, Lord. My body is Your body. I ask that He would slay my Goliaths, give my "Isaacs" back to me, and work healing into every area of my life, but that's His prerogative. That's how sacrifice works, isn't it? The worshipper yields the sacrifice wholly to the Worshipped; it's His choice how to use it. I don't know how long my food limitations will last or how He will work in the next daunting task on the horizon, but I know He will be with me no matter what, and He will give what is absolutely, one hundred percent, the best possible providence for me and mine in this fallen world, for His glory and our good.

My desire and prayer is that this confession of how God is shaping my perspective in weakness and limitations would meet one of you at the point of your need. If it moves you to pray for me to present my body to God in worship with confidence and joy in everything He asks of me, I'm grateful. Most of all, I pray that--whether your altar is a sickroom or a boardroom, a journey or confinement, a sink full of dirty dishes or a child with a dirty diaper--you would respond to God's mercies by offering your body to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him, which is your spiritual act of worship.

Thank You, Lord,
for Your mercies in saving me,
for Your mercies in keeping me,
for new treasures in old Words,
for the way Your Word meets me in my need and moves me where You want me,

for the recovery process,
for medications,
for helpful, compassionate doctors,
for second chances,
for a clean skin cancer check,

for comfort zones and leaving them,
for Your courage in my anxieties,
for the loan of a more comfortable car for the journey ahead,
for a full stomach,
for the lingering buttery fragrance of the toffee we Amore made yesterday,

for praying friends and family,
for kind souls who listen with compassion and kindness,
for my nephew and all the many others who serve and have served our nation in the military,
for words that heal and grow.
For all these and more, I thank You, Lord,
(gratitude journal #2467-2484)

Sharing in community with Ann, Laura, and Bonnie this week:

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