As I’ve noted before, I have a very visual imagination. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on the reel playing in my mind at any given time. Lately I’ve been sabotaged by scenes from Cooter County. (I blame you, Tina. I hope you’re proud.) I’ll be in an everyday situation (dinner table, church, about to speak to an auditorium full of people about God’s purposes in suffering), behaving as a mature and proper adult should, and suddenly I see Euneeda Bisquit doing her jazzercise or Justice Goode in camouflage or Shocantelle Brown demonstrating how she uses hot water in her salon, and I lose it.
That can be the bad (though, I admit, often fun) part. The always good part is how it places me before the throne of grace in prayer. Oswald Chambers says, “If you have never used your imagination to put yourself before God, begin to do it now.” I expect this comes more easily to people with a visual imagination. When I pray, I don’t see myself sitting at my desk. I see myself in the presence of holy and unapproachable Light, and in my mind, I am prostrate before the almighty Maker and Sustainer of all things. I see Him as the One enthroned above all rule, authority, might, and dominion; the One who does according to His will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and no one can stay His hand; the One whose eyes are a flame of fire and yet who saves my tears in a bottle and numbers the hairs on my head. God of the universe. Tender Shepherd. Protecting Father. Returning King who is coming to claim His Bride.
I see this, and my heart exults even as it bows low. And in this consecrated place, the prayer that often rises of itself is this: “Lord, I present my body to you as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable because of Christ. Lead me and fill me and anoint me today to do Your will to Your glory.”
A living sacrifice. Here, Lord. This is for you. This body. This brain. These talents. This (ahem) imagination. The moments of this day with its agenda and all the planned and unplanned encounters it will hold. All for You.
Sounds generous, doesn’t it? Noble. Giving it all up for Him.
The longer I live, the more I realize that all I offer to God is but a minuscule return on what He has given me. I’m like the child who takes a cookie from his mom’s cookie jar, hands it to her, and says, “This is for you.” Sure, she knows that the cookie, the jar, the kitchen, and every morsel of daily bread that keeps this child alive came straight from her, but she still smiles at the offering. Still accepts it with joy, because she loves her child and cherishes his affection for her.
We live in a culture of entitlement. The endlessly repeated chorus of “That’s not fair,” and “I don’t deserve this” proves we do. But what’s fair? And what do we deserve? If God were truly fair and gave us what we truly deserve, we’d all be burning in hell right now. God is holy and must be just, and yet He desired mercy, so He spent His justice on Christ, His Son, the Lamb of God, and the only perfect sacrifice for sin.
He spent His justice on Christ so He could lavish His grace on us. He bought us with a price, and we are not our own, yet — wonder of wonders — He invites us to offer ourselves freely. He allows us the privilege of sacrifice. He accepts our cookie and counts it as real gift, even though the whole cookie jar belongs to Him.
God of the universe desires relationship with me. With you. Imagine that.