So the brunette koala has got me thinking about what we put into, and get out of, a relationship with God.  Like her, I’ve had the very difficult experience of being somewhere that you feel God wants you to be in but feeling like you’re in a bit of a desert place as a result. 

After mulling over her post yesterday I was sat reading my bible using a book of accompanying studynotes last night.  And as so often happens when you think you’ve got your thoughts all sorted on a subject (ha!) I found myself reading a passage that reminded me of an inconvenient truth:

2 Samuel 24:18-25 (New International Version)

David Builds an Altar

 18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. 21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”
      “To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”

 22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 O king, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the LORD your God accept you.”

 24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
      So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped. (courtesy of www.biblegateway.com)

“I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” is the key verse here.  I must have read this passage before, but never really taken this in.  I’ve been using a book of ‘experiential devotionals’ called “God360” by Andy Flannagan and in last night’s reading this is the verse he homed in on.  He asks “How many of my ‘offerings’ of worship cost me very little at all? ”  He then goes on to make a simple and practical challenge.  To choose to do some act of worship for God which has a real cost – to your comfort, to your schedule, to your self-respect, or even your credibility.  It made me think of the woman who poured the expensive perfume over Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair, leaving the disciples indignant at the apparently pointless extravagance of the gesture. 

So I’m challenged.  To make beautiful, terrifying, creative, counter-intuitive expressions of worship, of praise, of thanksgiving to God.  And to recognise that they are sacrifices, which I am to offer freely and with an open heart. 

I’ll be the one reading the biggest bible I can find on the bus.  Or the one saying grace out loud when we’re in a restaurant.  Or the one determinedly worshipping God through the longest and most impenetrable hymn.  Or maybe the one dancing in the aisles.  Or maybe the one sitting in silence and solitary prayer in some coffee shop.

Or maybe just the one who is praying desperately for courage to be like David and Abraham and all those many others in the history of our faith who have laid down themselves, their possessions and their pride at the feet of our Father and been content to let Him take whatever He wanted, because they loved Him.

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