“What is it that prevents this intimacy [with God]? What is this most difficult sacrifice I speak of?” The sermon continues…
3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans [according to His will as we align our wills with His].
As we conclude the sermon preached in, Heathersleigh Homecoming, by Michael Phillips, I will now tell you about Charles, the author of the sermon. He was a Liberal and on his way (in the 1890’s) to becoming Prime Minister when the Lord got a hold of him through the pastor who is reading the sermon. Charles became a Christian and over a period of time decided to drop out of politics. He devoted himself to helping those in his little home town near the south shore of England and was loved by all–except his eldest daughter who held it against him that he withdrew from society, for which she clamored. At 17, she left home to join the Suffragettes (pushing for women’s voting rights). When the war broke out, he was called back into the navy and was on the same ship as his son. When the ship was torpedoed and sunk, they were last seen directing men to lifeboats and going back in to rescue others. The funeral was for Charles and his son, and this sermon was written by Charles several years before as he struggled to learn all he could about God and how to know Him. Here is what he concluded:
“It is not primarily sin in the world, nor the wickedness of the ungodly. It is not poverty nor cruelty, not injustice nor inequality, not war nor killing nor greed. I speak rather of the sin which prevented me for most of my own life from entering into intimate relationship with my heavenly Father. I speak of the great invisible enemy of God’s highest purposes—nothing more nor less than prideful independence of heart, that determination which says—I am my own. None other shall control me, none other shall dictate to me, none shall be over me… I shall bow my knee to no one.
This is the spirit that rules in the far country to which we modern respectable prodigals have given our citizenship.
Do you hear me, men and women—simple independence…that quality so admired by modern culture is in fact a mountain ten miles high and impossible to cross between that land where we have built our impoverished dwellings and the home of our Father.
Independence is the great silent evil, not because its sin is so perfidious but because it keeps otherwise good and moral people ruled by their Selves. It keeps them eating spiritual swine husks rather than the meat of fellowship with Jesus and His Father. People like you, good listener…and me.
The Self—that region of thought and deed, of motive and attitude—keeps me on the throne of my life, and God off it. It keeps you on your own throne too, my friend. As long as you are on the throne where your own will rules supreme, God cannot exercise His true Fatherhood in your life because there can be only one Father and one child. Self-rule says—I need no Father over me. Self-rule is the god of the far country.
We are all prodigals together, my friends. We have made self-rule our god. As a result we have become a prodigal humanity. Thus we do not know intimacy with our Creator and our Father. But we can know it. Jesus came to show us how. But we must return. We must leave the land where pride and self-rule reign as gods. We must be reconciled with our Father.
“How?” you ask.
God will show you. But first we must say, as Jesus taught, ‘I will leave this country. I will return to my Father’s house.’
That is something we can do in our own hearts. Now…today. We can say to Him, ‘I am sorry for being a respectable worshiper of Self. I am sorry for thinking myself capable of living my life with no Father over me. No more do I want to rule my own life. I want a Father. I am ready to be a child. I am eager to become a true son, a true daughter. I ask You to be my Father.‘
He is fashioning of us people of character and virtue. He is building the fiber of mature spirituality within us. He desires to make us into men and women capable of carrying out His commands and walking in this world as individuals recognized as our self-reliant, self-motivated wills, if only we will turn those wills over to Him, lay them down on the altar of chosen self-denial…and become children.
This process of humble growth into sons and daughters begins by turning around and setting one’s face toward home, toward the Father’s house, where He rules. We must return to Him and say, ‘I choose for You to rule now, not me.‘ It is a journey to be made in the heart. He is waiting along the roadside to welcome us…but we must go to Him, we must return to our Father’s house and say, ‘I will be Your child.’”
Charles’ daughter, Amanda, as she listened on the steps of the church, heard God speaking to her. She went home. It was too late for her to run to her father, but it was not too late for him to reach her through his sermon. It’s not too late for us, either. Today, let’s tell the heavenly Father what Charles did, “Abba, rule my life. I am Your child.” It’s what He’s been waiting for.
Abba, I certainly do ask You to rule my life. Again. Today. Tomorrow, too, although, I will ask You again tomorrow. Your presence and the peace that comes with You are worth more than all the gold in the world. I rest in You even as I labor for You in Your power and with Your direction. Holy Spirit, let’s go! Amen.