Sunday, February 20, 2011

Keep my heart on Your altar

One of my favorite parts of church in the bush bush was offering time. After four hours of sitting on a hard wooden bench, listening to a service in a language I couldn’t understand, the offering always provided some much-needed entertainment. First the elders, then the old men, then the old women, then the youth, would all walk to the front to bring their offerings to the altar. And “offering” in the bush doesn’t necessarily mean money. A lot of the time it’s vegetables or eggs or whatever people happen to have around the house. I’ll never forget the one Sunday that a woman brought a live chicken! Round about the middle of the service, the chicken started flapping around and hopped right off the altar! The elders had to chase him down and corral him in a room out back.

I think sometimes that’s kind of how my heart is with God. It’s easy in the quiet of my room to bring my heart and all its worries and fears and hopes and dreams and desires to Him and set it on His altar, choosing His will over my own. But when things get difficult, when it starts to hurt, when following His will necessarily means letting go of my own, my heart like that chicken hops right off. And so the Psalmist reminds us that we must “bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27).

Leaving the USA once again, I was reminded of all the things I placed on the altar of God’s will. Little things and big things - heart things – which all seem like such small and simple offerings when uttered in a comfortable sanctuary or whispered at night from a cozy bed, but quite different when confronting me in final embraces and tearful goodbyes. And so sometimes hearts like chickens need to be bound to the altar, kept there - constrained not with fear or duty or obligation but with the cords of His love and goodness and grace towards us.

Thy beautiful sweet will, my God, 
Holds fast in its sublime embrace 
My captive will, a gladsome bird, 
Prison’d in such a realm of grace. ~ Tersteegen 

May the testimony and reminder of His goodness in your life serve to keep your heart ever on His altar, which is, I am convinced, the best place to be.

1 comment:

OliveTree said...

What a lovely post. I liked your story, and the application you made from it. I can relate to struggling in the fight to keep my heart on the altar!

I found your blog through WOTH.

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