A New Year’s resolution worth keeping
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
Several years ago, when my income was basically being a traveling musician and radio producer – I made my wife a bread box as a Christmas present …
It is still proudly displayed on our kitchen counter. Well, proudly but not prominently. It is to the left of the sugar pot, and behind the coffee grinder. It never has closed very well. I had a real hard time angling the cut to match up on the cover. One of the hinges is catawampus and clacks when shut. When it is closed, there is a groove in the door that I could stick my pinky into. To actually store bread in this box would not be a bright idea. Kimberly uses it to store coupons, kitchen matches and other non-perishable, synthetic, non-edible, inorganic items.
You see … I am not good with my hands.
Oh, how I’ve tried, and I wanted to be. I love the smell of fresh wood being cut by a scroll saw. I so enjoy gluing, hammering, cutting and leveling. Yet, the Francis touch always seems to leave its indelible mark on every object I try to create. Now, understand, I do think that my wife loves this bread box – because it was a sacrificial gift to her. But, she doesn’t love it for its usefulness.
I remember sitting in college, in an interminable music theory class thinking of leaving school and just working for a living. I had friends that were doing it, and making a lot more money than a starving student like me. But thankfully I remembered that I really wasn’t good at anything else.
But when I play trumpet, I feel like I’m praying to the Lord. Jazz trumpet player Miles Davis used to say “Pray and play, play and pray.” Another great trumpet player, Maynard Ferguson was seen backstage right before a concert staring down and moving his lips. Someone asked Maynard what he was saying. He sort of blushed and said, “It’s a prayer I pray every time, ‘May I be an instrument in Your hands, an inspiration to my audience, and a joy to the people in the band.’”
But enough about music, what about your talents? What is your ‘living sacrifice’ to the Lord. I think that Christianity is more than being a redeemed people, it’s about being a people, rich with ability and giving it back to the One who gave it. Romans 12 tells us that giving Him ourselves is our ‘spiritual act of worship.’ Nearby this very famous quote is a not-so-famous one, “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Romans 11:29. That’s the King James, the New International version better captures the Greek when it says, “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” This means that He has given you ability that He has no plan to recall. So use it to His glory.
In the movie “Chariots of Fire” there is the famous Eric Liddell quote, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
Is there something in your life that when you do it, you ‘feel God’s pleasure?’ It may be working with your hands, writing, singing, building, or gardening. The important thing is how it feels when you dedicate that craft and that moment to God … it’s a lot like praying to Him. The outcome may not be exactly the way you desire, but it is the process of dedicating yourself and your abilities to Him that is the important thing.
Instead of being negative about what you can’t do, be positive about what you can do. As we near the time of the new year, make a resolution; one that will be a pleasure to keep. Identify a skill that God has placed within you, and dedicate it to Him. Let Him bless it and help you to take that skill wherever He wants it to go. Feel His pleasure, and ‘practice the presence of God.’
Isn’t that a great resolution?
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(John Francis is the Worship Specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention and produces MoWorship, a monthly worship podcast available at www.mobaptist.org/worship.)