(Written July 1998. Added here because I need to remember it)
I enjoy talking to the Lord, especially when my heart is full.
I'm kind of like a child running home after school to tell his mom all about what he saw & heard that day. Or sometimes if you've had a hard day at school, you return home to mom and she hugs you and says it'll be all right. That's how it is sometimes with God and me.
Late last Sunday night I was at the Church talking to God like that. I was telling him about the day's ministry, and how it had gone. I was telling Him some of my concerns & fears.
Then I began to ask Him what were the keys for this church. What were the things that would unlock peoples hearts and minds toward the gospel? How was He going to implement His plan for this church?
He was quiet.
Being a bit impatient, I asked the question in another way.
"What did He want me to do here? How did He want me to respond to the many different people and situations?"
I silently waited on the Lord.
Then, in the way the Lord often "Talks" with me, I began to hear His still, small voice call me to Ephesians 5:2. It says;
"And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma."
I had heard enough to know it was Him, and that this was His heart for this church.
I confess that it did surprise me a bit. He didn't say "Change this or that" He didn't say "Teach them this new truth,â€ nor did He say "Go out and get all new people!â€
He didn't say "Harp on them till they get it right,â€ He didn't say "Turn the church around into a new direction,â€ and He didn't say "The problem is you don't have enough money!â€
He didn't say "Get rid of the hurting people,â€ or "Only let good Christians into the church.â€
He didn't say "Change all the leadership" or "Get more people praying" or even "Target your worship to meet the needs of the lost.â€
What He asks of me, and us, is far greater, and sometimes harder than all these things, He asks us to walk in Love.
His example to me of this kind of love was God made flesh - Jesus Christ. That in loving another, as Christ loved us, there is a call for a great sacrifice. A sacrifice of all I may hold dear. My rights, my desires, my hopes and plans, my dreams, all to be laid aside for those I'm called to love and be a part of.
Then I realised the last part of the verse. The results of this selfless love, is that we become a sweet-smelling sacrifice before God. That our offering isn't in vain, that it's not counted as lost, but that indeed, our sacrifice, our offering pleases the living God.
This is to me a living Hope!
Yet I remind myself that success (as I would see it!) is not promised. That a large, victorious, harmonious, loving church may not be the final result.
It may or may not be God's desire, but we are people and as people, we continue to make our own choices.
But the success we are called to is the success of faithfulness. That of being a faithful sacrifice unto the Lord.
Remember Jesus sweet example. He didn't succeed as the disciples saw it, they saw Him die. But He did succeed in God's eyes, He was faithful throughout the sacrifice of love, and God raised Him up from the dead and rewarded him with Glory.
So I, and we, are left with the choice of living a sacrificial love towards each other, or doin it our own way. As for me, I want to choose God's way, though I know my tendency to fail.
I want to be a sweet-smelling sacrifice before God more than I want to get my own way. When I get my own way, I often end up smelling like a chicken farm anyway.
If we give Him the chance, He'll take care of the details and changes that need to happen for us to grow. As for our part in the process, He asks us to "Walk in love, as Christ walked . . . "
Am I willing?