I pray as I walk down the narrow road. I’m talking to the Father about those early days, years ago, when I was so zealous in my faith, so trusting, so willing. I remember the words written on the thin pages of my King James Bible, so vivid and distinct, as though they were freshly written with the very ink on the true papyrus used by St. Paul. They seemed to magnify, embolden, and rise up, penetrating my spirit:
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. (1)
It was my “reasonable service” to present myself fully to my God. So I did. All those years ago. It was during a Sunday evening service – a very unusual occurrence in today’s church but common at that time. Pastor Mills spoke a true-to-the-Word message, as he always did, but it wasn’t his message that urged me to go forward and make a public commitment to my conviction. He didn’t coerce his congregation. It was the Word itself, speaking to me through the Holy Spirit. The Word was alive. The Word was sharp. And it penetrated my soul and my spirit. It judged my thoughts and the attitude of my heart, and it uncovered everything within. (2) Everything. It urged me, as a believer, to give myself fully to God. It was the true and proper worship for me, a follower of Jesus Christ.
Yes I remember it well, and now, years later, I talk to the Father about it, a conversation I would not have been comfortable having in the past, always thinking I had to put on a “front” with the Father. Imagine that! Looking back, I almost laugh about it! After all, He “knows” my heart – even when I don’t speak it. And He accepts me as I am – because I am His. I liken His love for me to that I have for my own children. Even my human imperfect love for my children accepts their true confessions and would not be diminished in the least by their openness. How much greater is the Father’s love for His children! I am confident that His love for me will most certainly withstand the true confessions of my imperfect heart. And so I open up with Him, confessing that I don’t know if I truly present myself today as a living sacrifice, as holy, or as acceptable to Him. Yes, in all the years between those early days and now, my faith has strengthened, I’ve truly come to know Him as Abba Father, and I cherish His Holy Spirit living within me. But life has been hard – difficult – trying. I now wonder if the turmoil of life, especially in these latter years has hardened me and, in a sense, has caused me to hesitate in presenting myself fully to Him.
This peaceful walk, along an ever-so-quiet country road, is conducive to speaking to Him. And to listening. He whispers back to me, through His Word, which is the most common way I hear Him. He says,
Think back on those early days when you first learned about me. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering . . . sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things . . . you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. (2)
And suddenly, I’m reminded that I don’t need to doubt or bring chastisement upon myself. My Father loves me just as I am. All I need do is “Think back” and “Remember” His faithfulness. And when I do, mine follows!
(1) Romans 12:1 KJV
(2) Hebrews 4:12, 13 NIV
(3) Hebrews 10:32-36 NLT
Look for my next post on “Remembering”