Funny how that works. Even when I offer my life to the Lord—a blank check with no stipulations—I still find that I want want to write in part of what it says. I’m willing to say “Yes Lord,” but when God brings something unexpected, my initial reaction is, “But not that!”
And that depicts the Christian life, at least for me. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) I want God to do with me as He desires, but I want the comfort and security of the people and things around me. I want God to lead, but I want a say in what happens. The two don't often mesh well.
During my teen years, one of my favorite passages was Romans 12:1-2. Verse 1 speaks of being a living sacrifice. This was a desire I had from a young age, but most 12-16 year olds don’t grapple with the reality of this kind of desire and prayer. As I think back upon this passage that had much impact on me, I smile at how God was using even that to lay foundations for the work He would continue to do in me. That work God began was refining on more of a surface level, and He continues to work that deeper into my heart.
I believe the most challenging part of passages like that is not going somewhere or doing something God wants you to do (although at times that is the most difficult). Consistently, the hardest thing for me is submitting to the heart work God wants to do in me. Allowing Him to "hand pick trials" and bring circumstances to unveil the deeply rooted sin in my heart is not my choice way of growing in holiness. I'd rather it just happen as I read my Bible and pray. Wouldn't that be easier? But without the struggle, we'd lack gratitude for the work God is doing and future hope that someday we won't fight the dark sin in our hearts. God's ways are so much better than ours.
I've heard it said that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it can climb off the altar. Submitting to what God wants to do in our lives is not a one-time thing. Working with Him and allowing Him to change what is most needs, our hearts, is the hardest part of the Christian life. But it is necessary that we might be purified and holy and conformed into the image of Christ.
Let's get back on the altar, trusting that the work God is doing is good.