What then does “surrender” look like or, rather, sound like? When it comes time to talk to God about what He wants from us, how should we approach the Lord and what should we say?
Before we do anything else, we need to ask God what He requires for an offering. This is not for us to decide. When you read the Old Testament, particularly the Pentateuch, you are left in no doubt as to what God wants. Whole pages of Scripture are dedicated to spelling out God’s requirements in the most minute detail. It would have been unthinkable for an Israelite to offer God a pig or an unclean animal, because they were forbidden sacrifices. Even some clean animals were not allowed for temple offerings because, for God’s sovereign reasons, He had designated other animals or birds for such use. Cain got into big trouble because he offered God something God had not asked for, and he didn’t offer God something He had asked for! (Gen. 4:2-17).
Perhaps we kneel down in prayer and offer God an hour of our time on a weekday to help with the youth group. Well, what’s wrong with that, you ask? Nothing—if you are responding to what God has asked you to do. But if you have decided that out of the goodness of your heart that is what you can do for God and no more, even though the church needs help in social work or administration, then God will not accept your sacrifice or answer your prayers! Anyway, God does not want us deciding what we will do for Him, and when, and where. He wants to tell us what He has in mind.
When you think about it, it’s silly to offer God an hour of our time as if it is ours to offer. As David the psalmist observed, our future is in God’s hands (Ps. 31:15). All our moments are His, so we should in fact be asking Him for an hour of His time to use.
Surrender is an attitude of mind. We need to remind ourselves that everything we have, everything we are, and everything we do is a matter of borrowed time or borrowed resources. It’s God’s time. Our talents are God’s talents on loan to us. Our money is certainly God’s money. Our very lives are borrowed. So if we are living on borrowed time, with borrowed lives, exercising borrowed gifts, what we should be asking in our prayers is when God would like for us to do what! We should be praying, “What would you like that is yours today, Lord?” Even our sacrifices are lent to us to give! The bull on Elijah’s altar belonged to God first.
Elijah stepped forward on Mount Carmel “at the customary time for offering the evening sacrifice” (1 Kings 18:36). There was a time for each specific offering. I have discovered this principle to be at work in my Christian life. God will tell when it’s time for what. All I have to do is do it.
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