For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it (Mark 8:35).
Ever had one of those moments when something you haven’t thought of for years somehow manages to penetrate your consciousness; something you thought you’d forgotten, something you’d forgotten you ever knew? I had one of those moments yesterday at the My95 gathering in Kellett Chapel – and by the way, if you haven’t made plans to attend one of these gatherings, you need to seriously re-think your plans. Honestly, it’s worth every bit if the 120 minutes you’ll invest (gatherings continue through this week; there’s a link below to help you sign up for one).
But I digress. The moment I experienced there in Kellett Chapel came when we were singing a very familiar hymn just before we received communion. They hymn is variously called “Take My Life” or “Take My Life and Let it Be” or most thoroughly “Take My Life and Let it Be Consecrated.” You get the idea.
We’re singing this hymn and suddenly I’m back in church on a Sunday night, my dad at the pulpit giving us the hymn number. A revival preacher at heart, my dad nevertheless understood that people were not always enthusiastic about walking the aisle. So, usually at the end of a Sunday night service, Dad would finish his sermon and then have us sing “Take My Life.” He’d ask us to stay seated until the verses spoke of some kind of commitment we wanted to make.
You may recall the drift of the hymn text: Take my hands . . . take my words . . . take my treasure . . . and so on. When the hymn mentioned a part of ourselves and our lives that we needed to commit or re-commit to Jesus, we’d stand up. Life-long Presbyterians may be horrified at this – but I loved it because it was a way to do something and stay in the pew. Very safe, a non-committal commitment.
Sometimes on oppressively hot summer days, you’ll catch a breeze from out of nowhere. It won’t last very long, but it comes as a gift, cooling your face, a touch of April in the middle of August. My moment was like that. The slightest movement of the Spirit that gave me sense of the grace that has been mine since childhood. I felt deep affection for my father who turns 73 this summer and still preaches every week. I felt a profound gratitude for the heritage of faith passed on to me by parents and the community of God’s people, Baptist, Presbyterian and otherwise.
And I also sensed that what we most need to sing and say to God is “take it all.” I understand very well what my Dad was asking us to do on those occasional Sunday nights. We struggle to offer some parts of life more than others. Some gladly give their silver and gold, but inflict wounds with their words or harbor dark things in their minds. The answer is to take it all, all that we are, and offer it up to God.
What pieces of your life do you hold back, if any? Jesus told us we truly find life when we’re willing to lose it. Let your prayer today be an invitation for God to take it all.
Lord Jesus – take my life and let be set apart for you today. Take my possessions, my strength, my words and thoughts, my relationships – everything I cherish and hold dear. Take it all and use it as you see fit, for the glory of your name and your purposes in the world. Amen.