For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals. My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite.
Psalm 102:3-4 NLT
One of the best investments we made in the Oratory is our lovely woodburner. As I bask in its warmth and the comfort drawn from watching wood slowly burn, I am aware of the smoke carried away, invisible, yet whose scent fills the air outside. That smoke is the product from the wood giving itself to warming our home. As my life is expended, I trust to the end of warming the hearts and nourishing the souls of others, even at the cost of my own existence. As the wood disappears, so is our service of God; we are to decrease that he might increase (see John 3:30, NKJV).
The smoke that would have risen from the sacrifices of old was incense in appeasement of a God of justice. Now, forever satisfied through the death of Jesus, there is no need for appeasement; instead, an invitation to lay down my life in voluntary slavery, my response to the selfless act of Jesus. I am the sacrifice; my time, my abilities, my resources.
The obstacles to voluntary slavery are many. The most obvious is the way contemporary society seems hell-bent on “taking” from life and satisfying our most selfish needs. To live as if others are of greater importance than myself is to challenge today’s deepest perception. If you don’t look out for yourself, who will?
However, it is impossible to out-give the Almighty. God has promised that this is the privilege of slavery. But sacrifice and service are unable to feed any need I have for recognition and affirmation. So sometimes I curl up before that woodburner, lick my wounds and make my complaint to God. But God reminds me, I chose to follow him. Self-pity and despondency are the enemies we all confront and contest. When they are in the ascendant our heart grows sick, for we break step with our conviction and calling.
Are you a voluntary slave to the will and purpose of God?
Father, Son and Holy Spirit; I renew my resolve and heart’s desire to serve and obey you as my God, my Lord and my Enabler.