I'm reading Andrew Murray's book "Abide in Christ". It's not the first time I've read it but it feels like it. Why? Perhaps because I'm in a season of seeking to draw very close to the Lord. Perhaps because it is just what I need in my spiritual life right now. Perhaps because each January I struggle with my "dark visitor" coming in on me and Andrew Murray's writings feed the childlike side of my faith in Christ. Whatever the reason, this is the season when I need it; my response to it is showing how much I need the subject of that book.
Years ago when the four older children were all five and under I read the book "Through Gates of Splendor" by Elizabeth Elliot. I had yielded many, many things in my life when I read that book. I had yielded my will in the area of my biblical womanhood, I had yielded what I did as recreation to the Lord, I had yielded my possessions, I had yielded my clothing, I had yielded my priorities and how I used my time--but I had not given the Lord my children.
I had a deep fear of one of my children dying and for some reason I believed that if I gave my children to the Lord, He would take one to test my yieldedness. When I read the book "Through Gates of Splendor" God brought me under deep conviction that I needed to give Him my children. I was bothered by the mothers in that book that loved their children as much as me but were willing to go where the Lord wanted them to even when it was very dangerous. For several nights I was troubled to the point of not sleeping.
Finally, late one night I went in to Nathan's bed. I laid my hands on him and gave him to the Lord first and then one by one the rest of my children. I cannot describe the joy and peace the Lord gave me. I felt so foolish that I could ever think that I had more wisdom than the Lord in keeping our children safe or that I was better equipped to do the job. I saw it from His viewpoint for the first time, and knew they were only safe when in His keeping
I went through my house for days looking at things and saying, "Lord, you can have that, and that, and that!" (naming them as I went) I gave him my Christian music, my beloved sewing machine, my furniture and my food.
This week the Lord has taken me through another new season of giving things to Him. Although I had a point in my life when I withheld nothing from Him he has shown me that it lies deeper than that.
I must give Him each thing and let Him have it. If He chooses to give it back then I must only use it as He tells me to, the way He tells me to and by His power--not mine.
I have several areas I must give Him:
1) My sin. Frances Ridley Havergal first mentioned this and it has changed my life. Jesus is my Saviour and that means right now--this moment. He is not just my Savior for eternity past and eternity future, He is my Savior right now--but I must give Him that sin and let Him at the very moment it tries to take possession of me give it to Him and let Him be my living, indwelling Saviour at that very moment. What a joy to not have to fight sin or try to quit it. It's dealt with--I just have to quit fighting and rest in Him, His blood and His power.
2) My self-righteousness. Not only do I have a very natural part of me that is very bad, I have areas where I am naturally a good person. But all my goodness is as filthy rags and I must give Him my good and confess that I need Him here too. My good doesn't please Him and so I must give it to Him to be healed of it and given back to me as His righteousness-not mine.
3) My natural abilities and talents. Each of us were born with gifts. Maybe the gift of music, or the gift of writing, maybe the gift of loving to cook, or being a natural speaker. Perhaps the gift of mercy, or love, or giving. Perhaps you are gifted with children, you're a gifted teacher, or you are gifted as an idea person. Perhaps the gift of leadership. The list could go on and on--but we each have them. These too, are only a frustration to the grace of God even if we offer them to serve Him.
He cannot use a work that is not His, and so we have to take each one of them and completely and totally give them to Him, trusting Him with them. After giving them to Him I must wait on Him to give me the grace to use them at His bidding and His timing always remembering that they are no longer mine, but simply something that belongs to Him that He is allowing me to use.
4) All my lawful occupations and possessions. Martha of Bethany loved opening her home to the Lord and his disciples, but she had to give that wonderful lawful occupation she had to the Lord. She lacked one thing. Rather it's our occupation or our possessions we must give it to Him and entrust Him to open our eyes on the why/how/when of it. I must give him my keeping at home, my wifely duties, my motherly duties, my cooking and cleaning, my shopping, my home, furniture, my clothing, my schedule.
What a complexity is involved in these areas--only he can manage them, but they must be His.
5) Our true spiritual gifts. After salvation we receive gifts that are spiritual gifts. We receive our measure of faith, our spiritual hearing and sight. Even these must be given to God. If we glory in our spiritual experiences then we will stagnate. We should always realize they are from Him and we must hand them back, so we don't become proud or satisfied and not need more from Him.
Frances Ridley Havergal said that there can be no consecration without separation. How true. Nehemiah talked about men, their wives, their sons, their daughters, and all those that had knowledge and understanding seperating themselves from the people of the lands (the world system or culture) unto the law of God. (Nehemiah 10:28)
When we are led by the Spirit of God to forsake all of our life and take up His, to abide in Him, to give up our life and embrace the yoke and the cross and learn of Him it can be a calling that our sinful flesh draws back from. But through time those who have done it will testify that it is so sweet that they wouldn't have it any other way.
The more helpless, needy and willing we are to give up ourselves and take all He offers us, the more we receive from His hand. We give to Him and we receive of Him! It's worth it!
So as we are barely in this new year I urge you to join me in making this a year where your single eye and focus is coming to know Him more by giving Him more.