When my sons were young they were very different in temperament–I guess they still are, but it seemed more pronounced then.
One son was born with a compassionate heart and a fairly compliant nature. He made life wonderful and easy. The other was born with a compassionate heart and a stubborn streak; he also made life wonderful and a bit more challenging.
We used to joke that when the elder child would be required to apologize that he would say exactly what he was told to say with proper inflections and apparent remorse. If he was asked to say, “Please forgive me for spitting on your food, I wanted your ice cream, but I will never do that again,” he would say exactly that and mean it.
When the younger son was required to apologize he would be given the script, “I’m sorry I pinched you,I won’t do it ever again. Would you please forgive me” and he would say, “…(nothing)…” He might have been sorry (probably was), and he would most likely never do IT again, but he refused to be told what to say.
I have recently had to confess that I am more like my stubborn child. Over the years I have picked up a quirky refusal to SAY what someone wants me to say. I think the only things I willing repeated were the Pledge of Allegiance at school and the Lord’s Prayer in church–and probably an Amen at the end of the pastoral prayer. I reasoned with my incredible brain, that no one should tell me what to say and I shouldn’t say anything unless I wanted to or I had time to think about it and agree. It might have begun when Rick was the pastor who was encouraging responses in church, but I fear it goes back further than that.
Well, Saturday night we were in church, and there was preparation for a baptism. At one point the pastor said, “Say Glory!” and of course I refused. Then a beat after everyone else said, “Glory!” I heard a quieter voice respond slowly, “GL..OR..Y!” with a bit of a struggle in the flow of the word. I remembered that right behind us every week sits a young man in a wheel chair. I don’t know what his diagnosis is, but I would guess it might be a form of cerebral palsy, but he loves Jesus and every week he worships with enthusiasm. And he said, “GLORY!”
I was stung in my heart. My pride had gone so far as to compel me to silence, even in the act of praising God. Even in an opportunity to give Him the rightful response he deserves. I am a fool.
Scripture tells us that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of the colt that the people of the city laid their cloaks on the ground and shouted, “Hosanna!” The Pharisees rebuked Jesus for allowing them to shout praises that belonged to the Lord Almighty! Jesus let them know that he deserved these praises by saying, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!” From now on I will be crying out with them!
But then I am compelled to wonder, what other attitudes and areas have I refused to surrender to God? Where do I hold back from presenting myself “a living and holy sacrifice?” Where I need to be asking the Holy Spirit to create a check this heart of mine so that I would be fully submitted to Him. Unfortunately for me, I just read Radical by David Platt and I have been challenged on many fronts to examine my life from God’s perspective. Am I fully submitted? Do you remember this old hymn, one of my favortes:
Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for Thee.
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.