I remember being single and begging God to bless me with a mate, someone with whom I could spend my life. When He did not respond to this prayer request in a way that I deemed favorable, I went to God with a proposal. This proposal for why He should bless me included a list of all the things I had done for Him. I wanted God to remember all the things I had done and bless me for them. Finally, God responded.
“I remember,” He said. “I remember what you have not done.” All of a sudden, I was ensconced in a dialogue with the Lord that I wasn’t quite ready for.
“What haven’t I done,” I bravely asked.
“You have not sacrificed,” came the reply.
“But I have, Lord. I have given so much of my time and talents. Some nights I am exhausted from all my ministries. I’ve even sacrificed monetarily to fund some of my ministries. I have sacrificed everything,” I said, feeling proud of myself.
“Everything?” The word, a question, bounced off the walls of my mind for days. Had I sacrificed everything? Over the next few days our dialogue became quite one sided. I listened as He reminded me of what I had not done. I had not put all on the altar of sacrifice. My desire to be married wasn’t up there. My character defects weren’t up there. My life plans weren’t up there. After the conversation was over, I realized I had failed to do the most essential thing—pick up my cross and follow Jesus no matter where that led me. I hadn’t crucified self so that Christ could live out His life in me.
“Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Mathew 22:37). I always thought that meant to love the Lord over all your stuff and other people, but I never internalized that it meant to love Him over myself. This would take sacrifice and trust.
Have you given God everything? Is all on the altar of sacrifice? Is your career up there? Is your desire to be married up there? Are your children or spouse up there? Is your new hairstyle or finances up there? Is your time up there? Do you trust Him enough to love Him more than you love yourself? Can you say everything?