Well the end of Feb already. This month has been a bit crazy for me as I have started a new job...I'm in surgery
now and finding the eight o'clock starts a bit hectic.
I was at cfc last Sunday....traitor I know Lurganers. Anyway, Paul was talking about finding a rhythm in life. He spoke of sacrifice and the concept of laying your life on the altar.
One of my favourite little verses from the message is Psalm 5,3..
"Every morning I lay the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend".
Paul made a great point about living sacrifices. He reminded us that compared to animal sacrifices that were dead as door nails and never had a choice but to be burnt on an altar, we as living sacrifices have a mind of our own. We can jump on but we can also jump off again. He demonstrated this well by flinging his leg over the pulpit every now and then....very amusing.
It has made me think though. I have discovered that when I lay my life down for God, its often only pieces of my life. Parts of my life get hidden or sneak off the altar discretely.
In the old testament the burnt offering was one of the most important sacrifices. Everything had to be burnt to a cinder...nothing falling off the edges. I imagine they even burnt the ashes to make double sure.
I have learnt a lot about sacrifice in my life from my Dad. Big Jim as my friends know him, a bit of a legend and as it happens my hero and best friend.
He and I went for a walk in Lady Dixon park last Sunday afternoon....It was such a beautiful day and I took his arm and felt his strong protection. I, being a sucker for all things sentimental just decided to be really open with him about my life and my dreams. I thanked him for his example and for how he has always lived his life for us and not for himself....sacrifice. I am so thankful for a Father that has loved me unconditionally. I never struggled to believe that God loves me or that God has good things for me...I guess its always been reflected to me through a great Dad. It breaks me to think of the many people who dont get this priveledge...
He looked at me and said " Joy, the only way to truly live is to live for others". He reminded me of a verse from Romans...Ch 15..."We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbour for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself"
I guess the idea that the path to true life is through a door of sacrifice is something that astounds me. I guess the cross is the ultimate example. But its a principle for every day "living".
The paradox of the altar and the free life is beautiful.
I am reading a book by Erwin Mcmanus called Uprising. He claims in this book that in order to be truly free we must be disciplined.
Freedom and discipline to me always seemed opposites....
I think we all crave freedom.
Sometimes though we go the wrong way about getting it.
We think we get free when we ditch self control and just grab whatever we want when we want it.
How often do we see people sucked dry with this principle...left empty, realising that what they grabbed for wasn't even what they really wanted.
Now I'm all up for letting my hair down...ask my friends! I also though believe passionately in discipline.
This year I have had an hour to drive to work every morning. I made a decision to use this time to pray. I pray for my family and friends that I love. I pray for the people lying in the hospital who are dying, sore, lonely, addicted...
I love those hours in the car. I don't have any words to explain the deep freedom I have experienced form having this little discipline. It is something I have to decide to do in my will...it doesn't just happen. Its a sacrifice I guess but its a door to real life.
This is where religion is different for me. If I was given a list of rules to stick to I would be enslaved by them. I would definitely pack it in and just rebel against them all for badness.
But I CAN CHOOSE.
I can lay myself on the altar....no one killing my soul with religion and throwing me on...its up to me.
Its up to me if I go the whole hog and give God the burnt offering of my life...where even what gets burnt gets burnt. Sounds like it could be a bit painful but I know with all I have that it would lead to heavenly liberation.
So each morning, not just once in a while I will say to God...here are the pieces of my life on your altar...ALL of the pieces.
I will wait
I will watch for his fire to descend.
The fire of God creating a scent of freedom and provoking curiosity.