Monday, June 12, 2017

Sacrifice of all things

Rob Smith's book, Seek Ye This Jesus: Hearing, Seeing and Dwelling with God, continues to assault the "natural" man within me with revelation upon revelation...or "reminders" to those of us who already have been exposed to the truth, but who are now quaking in our boots at the implications thereof. 

Lessons like this: 


A full relationship with God requires the surrender of all things. This stout principle is stated plainly over and over again in scripture. Few encounter a full relationship with God, because few understand or submit fully in surrender to God.

There are three levels of surrender to God. The first is partial surrender, when you are willing to surrender a specific thing or a group of specific things. Many people in this group are honest enough to recognize that their unsurrendered things should be surrendered, but they love those things too much to let go of them. Their unwillingness to let go of these things in spite of a commandment from God to do so means that they love these things more than God, which is a violation of the first and great commandment: Love God with all your heart (see Matthew 22:38). Their withholdings are an idol to them, and as long as they hold onto these unsurrendered things, they cannot have a full relationship with God. No matter what positive experiences they have with God, they will be forever blocked from the much greater portion they were meant to experience.

Some less honest people in this group think that their unsurrendered list is acceptable to God because it is comprised only of things they think God will never expect them to surrender. Who are you to dictate what is right and what is wrong to God? If your operating assumption is that you are fallen and incapable of saving yourself, how could you ever think that you are capable of dictating what God can and can’t do? God’s humbling interchange with Job fits any who think for a moment that their wisdom exceeds God’s (see Job 38).

The Lord’s ways are higher than yours:

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

When it comes to what God might ask of us, there are no limitations. Abraham probably thought God would never ask him to sacrifice a human, let alone his son, let alone the son whose life was required to fulfill promises he had received from God. And yet, he did not withhold Isaac. There are many other examples in the scriptures. Nothing is out of bounds. Even your relationship with your parents and your children* are among what he can ask you to sacrifice:

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37) 

If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

[Emphasis added.]


I stopped reading there. 
That last scripture contained two words -- "...and wife..." -- that wrenched my soul. 

I have always known I would have to "sacrifice" my parents. We can't live forever under their roof. We must necessarily "strike out" on our own, chart our own course, even "separate" religiously, financially, emotionally (to some extent) as we "define" ourselves, our personalities and our lives. Inevitably our parents (most likely) precede us in death, as well. We have to "let go" sooner or later.

I also knew I would have to "sacrifice" my children. Inevitably they grow up and make their own choices, taking actions that, likewise, define their own lives and personalities. Ultimately, every parent must stand at the "train station," wave "goodbye" to their children and "let go."

But I NEVER imagined I would be expected to "sacrifice" my beloved wife! Not under ANY circumstances (except by death)! Even if she pushed me away! Even if she turned from everything I hold dear! My role, my goal, my purpose in life, I understood, was to "cleave" unto her and to NONE else! I was to "save" her AT ALL COSTS and NEVER abandon her. At God's command, my faithfulness to her would need to be stronger than the cords of death!

I NEVER imagined that it would be required of me (by Him or by her) to "let go."

Abraham "sacrificed" his wife, Sarah, first to Pharaoh, then to King Abimelech. (Though Abraham surely loved her!) He likewise sent Hagar and their son, Ishmael, into the wilderness, arguably to die! Abraham withheld NOTHING from God. He even raised his knife to slay his beloved son, Isaac, at God's command.

Rob's words likewise cut to my core and struck at my heart. They revealed in me and to me a truth I've kept hidden from myself. 

I THOUGHT I had "spied out" God's own heart and had "carved out" what I "knew" and thought to be His desires for me for my ENTIRE life. I THOUGHT He had given me this woman FOREVER. (We were "sealed" in the temple!) I had NO IDEA that the very thing He had given me to love, honor and cherish forever -- the one I now valued ABOVE ALL ELSE in this world! -- had become an "idol" to me and a "stumbling block." (Hadn't she always been?) My love for her -- and for all that I received from her and because of her -- had become the focus of my life and the "treasure" of my soul.

Surely I loved her and our children with all my heart! I loved God, too!

But did I love Him MORE than these?

He would see. (Or, more accurately, I would see.)


I recognize these tests come to ALL of us who seek to be with and be like God. (Those who seek not God likewise suffer, but they do so, unknowingly, without purpose.) The Powers of Heaven "orchestrate," on our behalf, circumstances that bring us to these "crises" of our faith -- whether by death, destruction, disease, economic ruin or other hardship, trial by temptation, infidelity (either in ourselves or in others), etc. We are asked to "sacrifice." Those who give up what they "love" most because they love God EVEN MORE progress. Those who don't are damned, even in their "lovely" (and pitiful) prisons.

God, in His mercy, allows "evil spirits" to beset us, at times -- to compel us to do things we (otherwise) would not do (unless we were tempted, as we thus are, by our own lusts, if we have any) -- to bring about circumstances to teach us lessons: to humble us and to instruct us, as He did with King Nebuchadnezzar, who went "crazy," living as a beast of the field for seven years (see Daniel 4). 

We judge others for their "wickedness" in our own foolishness, not comprehending how easily we could be persuaded to embrace their same plight, attitudes or actions, were the same "lessons" administered to us by Heaven. 

We are ALL "children," "fallen" in God's eyes. The "stench" of our sins is hardly indistinguishable to Them who now know no sin. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God in this world. We are ALL in need of God's cleansing power and forgiveness now (that we might cleanse and forgive each other). 

Only the most impenitent and wicked among us are unfit for this world. Our common struggle is to work together now to dispel the darkness and seek to embrace the Light.

Rob continued:

"Ironically, those who put God in a box do so out of fear. They fear that if they let God out of their boxes, he would end up less loving, less merciful, or less good than they presently imagine him to be. That is ironic because it is only by removing your limitations of him that you can see just how loving, merciful, and good he really is. Trusting him provides the opportunity for him to prove his faithfulness and love. It far exceeds anything you can imagine when you box him up in false traditions. If you look at every person in the scriptures who came to know God, you will struggle to find someone who found him less godly upon getting to know him. Instead, you see the opposite. You see deep, loving, worshipful reverence increase in proportion to how well someone knows God."

If I admitted it to myself, I'd confess that I don't want to give up what I have now because I'm afraid God will not fill up my cup again! (I so languished with thirst before! I do not wish to be thirsty again!) 

But thirsty for what? The cares of this world? Or the things of heaven? I confess as I've turned my attention toward the things of this world, the things of heaven have waned by comparison and the voice of God has become harder for me to hear.

The "greedy," hungry kid who keeps his two fish, rather than toss them into the basket as a gift to God never sees his fish multiplied to feed himself or five thousand more! 

We have to trust that, by obedience to God, our every step is ordained for our benefit (and the benefit of those we love and cherish), even if that step takes us through hell.

* At this point in reading Rob's words, I still held out hope he would never mention what I loved most and would NEVER want to give up! But he did.