Sunday, October 19, 2014

Goats and Bulls ... No Thanks

by Marcia Lee Laycock

Done. I breathed a sigh of relief as I stared at the two words every writer loves. The End. Then I closed my eyes and said a short prayer. Okay, Lord, here it is. Do with it what you will.

I’d done that many times, offered my work up to the Lord. I thought that was a good thing. I thought that’s what He wanted.

Then I read this – “The multitude of your sacrifices – what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats” (Isaiah1: 11).

But wait a minute. Didn’t God command the Hebrew people to make those sacrifices? Didn’t He call me to write?

The answer is yes, to both questions. But the prophet Isaiah was telling the Hebrew people their sacrifices had become meaningless to God and ineffective for the atonement of their sins because their hearts were not right and their actions did not line up with their words. Their sacrifices, that which should have come from the depths of their heart had become empty ritual that cleared their conscience but did not cleanse them of their sin. They were hypocrites and Isaiah was calling them to account.

So what does that have to do with me, I wondered? Was I in danger of the same? 

Those few verses in Isaiah led me to do some soul searching. Was I writing books about how a Christian should live but failing to live that life myself? Was I presenting the gospel through story but negating that gospel in my own life? Was my heart right? Were my actions in accord with my words? 

I continued reading in Isaiah – “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17)

I hung my head in prayer once more, only this time it was not with pride in what I had done, but in humility, acknowledging that some things needed to change.

The sacrifices I bring to God, the ‘goats and bulls’ of my work, will never be enough to please Him. He wants my eyes on Him, not the marketplace. He wants a bowed knee and a contrite heart. He wants me, heart, soul, mind and body. It’s the difference between being a writer working for God and a writer who is in Christ.

Praise God that He also says – “Come now, let us settle the matter... though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; thought they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

May we all cry out, like David... “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me... Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12).

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards. Marcia also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.  To learn more about Marcia's writing/speaking ministry visit Marcia’s Website