January 09, 2006

How to Get Close to God: Commit

Romans 12:1-8

Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God ... Romans 12:1


"It's not about you!" This is the opening sentence in Rick Warren's best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life. At the beginning of a new year we need to remember that in this coming year it's not about us. It's about God and his purpose for our lives, and it's about discovering that purpose. To experience God's closeness, we have to understand that the reason God gave us another year is so that we can live for him. As Paul puts it in Romans 12, we need to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. This is how Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message: "Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering." God's closeness requires surrender. We have to be willing to turn the controls of our lives over to God. We have to turn our hopes, our aspirations, our wants and our needs over to God. We have to learn to say, "Not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). It takes grace to reach that point. For most of us, it's a lifelong struggle to allow God to take complete control. We prefer to pretend that we're in charge. It takes the Holy Spirit to make us willing to commit our lives to God. But it's the only way to truly experience God's closeness. Ask God today for the grace to surrender.

Lord, please help us surrender our lives to you. Give us the grace to see that life is not about us but about you and your purposes. Help us live each day to your glory. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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