Ok, can I be completely transparent for a moment? Do you ever have moments where you make plans with friends and in the moment, you are so excited? Then that day comes and for whatever reason (having a long week, change of heart, and/or exhaustion) you just do not feel like going anymore. Am I the only one who does not mind when certain plans are cancelled? Do not get me wrong, I consider myself a social person, but there are times when I just want “Danny Time.” So, I find myself making excuses for why I cannot hang out with my friends. I then send that dreaded text or make that phone call to my group of friends saying, “Hey guys, I really wanted to hang out today…but”
Let’s look at this spiritually. Romans 12:1 states: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” This verse is often recited and memorized, but do we realize the heaviness of this verse? When we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, that means we are no longer living for ourselves. Every day we are called to kill our flesh, comfort, and desires to fully worship God. This can be extremely difficult. I know that I have struggled in giving God my ALL! I am a person who loves control and knowing what is going to happen next and what will happen after the next. However, this does not build my faith and place all of my trust in Christ. Again, I look to make excuses like, “God, I trust you…but…”
John 14:23 tells us, “Jesus replied, ‘All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.’” Loving Christ, means keeping his commandments. We are called to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27). When we look at the first part of this verse, we are commanded to love the Lord with ALL of our heart (our emotions, feelings, heartbreak) ALL of our soul (our innermost being, our spirit, our foundation) ALL of our strength (our energy, our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities) and ALL our mind (our thoughts, desires, secrets). It is imperative that we take all of this in and realize that everything that we have, all that we think, desire, and do, is meant to be an act of worship. It is meant to show our obedience and love to Christ. So often, I have found myself giving God 95% of my obedience and love and the other 5% I gave to other things. I got into a mindset where I would make excuses and say, “God, I love you…but….”
Trust and love can be hard things to surrender, but that is what we are called to do as a way to bring glory and honor to our Lord and Savior. However, even when we have experienced the love, power, and saving grace of Jesus, why is it still so difficult to completely surrender? Sometimes our pain, hurt, desires, broken dreams, and closed doors harden our hearts. We put up barriers that can create bitterness and animosity. We find ourselves willing to submit part of the way, but not all the way. God requires our ALL! We are called to love him with everything that we have. We are called to present our lives and bodies to him as a sacrifice. This means we let go of the hurt, pain, and broken dreams, and trade it in for grace, mercy, and an unfailing love. We must get to a point in our lives when we are all in – there are no more “God, I trust you, but I am afraid or God, I love you, but I have been hurt too many times.” As we develop a mindset and a posture of sacrifice, obedience and love…we can experience a new kind of love, a never-ending joy, and full access to redeeming grace and mercy.
I am reminded of Ephraim in Hosea 7:8 who was described as a “cake unturned.” Ephraim was rebellious and began to interact with “heathens” and Baal worship. Ephraim was described as cake unturned due to his actions. He was considered a watchman and a prophet, but soon fell into sin and depravity. When a cake is being baked, the heat is mainly touching the top. While the bottom may get some heat, it is not completely cooked like the top. Much like our lives, we are willing to let God put the heat on some things in our lives, while the other things are barely touched. We make excuses saying, “God, I surrender…but”
Let us all seek not to be cakes unturned. Allow God to put the heat on all things in our lives, anything that does not please him, hardens our hearts, or blocks us from knowing the Lord in all of his glory and splendor. Let’s give everything up to the Lord in surrender, obedience, and love. It is encouraging to know the weight and baggage of life we give up is replaced with grace and glory! Our lives no longer have to be made up of excuses or “God, I love you…but,” we can simply say, “God, I trust you; God, I love you; and God, I surrender…because that is exactly what you deserve!”
As we develop a mindset and a posture of sacrifice, obedience and love…we can experience a new kind of love, a never-ending joy, and full access to redeeming grace and mercy.