Laying My Plans On The Altar.
I’m a planner. I have a detailed idea in my head of how something should happen and I’m prone to disappointment, and likely an accompanying bad attitude, when things don’t follow my ideal. Which is why I’m struggling this morning….I have a fever. I’ve had a fever on and off for a week now. Since it’s Sunday I’m taking advantage of Josh being home by lying in bed trying to sleep off the virus. Josh just informed me that both of our girls have runny noses and Clara is running a temperature (Editor’s Note: Clara has since thrown up twice and been very lethargic. She woke up multiple times last night which is extremely abnormal for her). I’m angry and discouraged. It feels like we are constantly sick these days as our immune systems adjust to Malawi, we live in a relatively small community, we have three germy kids, and we work at a school. However, the true reason I’m mad is because this sickness has the potential to interfere with my plans. As I mentioned, today is Sunday. The Bellevue mission team coming to work with MCM arrives in 48 hours. 48 hours is it. The day we’ve been looking forward to for months is 48 hours away and now my family might be too sick to soak in every moment.
As I wrestled with my disappointment this morning, I heard God speak. He said, “Merribrooke, lay your plans on the altar and I will do something greater.” While I have no idea what that promise means, I’m choosing to cling to it. Of course, my human mind is praying that the girls and I wake up perfectly healthy and fever-free tomorrow. That would be the easy fix. But what if God’s plan is different…greater. Am I still going to rejoice no matter what the thermometer says?
If I’m practicing one of my most-treasured scriptures, then yes! I will rejoice because I’m a living sacrifice. My whole-self, including my ideal plans, are on the altar.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”Romans 12:1-2
Let’s think about being a living sacrifice…a sacrifice is something that is given. When I present myself as a living sacrifice I’m saying, “I surrender. I’m yours, LORD.” That means the plans I’d been thinking up for weeks are in the Lord’s hands. The time my kids get to spend with family and friends is in the Lord’s hands. Often times I buck against that. I foolishly feel “safer” when I feel like the plans are in my hands. Again, that’s really foolish because I know that the plans are never truly in my hands even when I feel like they are. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
What it truly comes down to is if my plans and I are on the altar, I will worship. Romans 12:1 reminds us that presenting our bodies as living and holy sacrifices is a spiritual service of worship. However, when my plans get interrupted my response is definitely not worship. As I look ahead not knowing what God is going to do with “my plans”, I’m asking Him to change my heart from whining to worship.
How will He accomplish that? As Romans 12:2 says, transformation occurs “through the renewing of your mind.” God is waiting with open arms to receive my sacrifice. He doesn’t want me to “be conformed” to my pattern of whining. He will transform me into a surrendered worshipper through the renewing of my mind. The most effective tool God uses for “mind renewal” is the Word of God. So to close out this post I want to provide some scriptures I’m meditating on as I place myself on the altar and ask God to transform me from a whiner to a worshipper.
“And he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped Him.”
(John 9:38 NASB)
“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’”
(Luke 9:23 NASB)
“Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand.”
(Proverbs 19:21 NASB)
“’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”