Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Take My Life

As I have been teaching through the book of Acts, the Spirit’s movement is unmistakable. He leads, prompts, warns, and directs the apostles. This week, in Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian elders, I am struck by one word.

Paul relates that he is “compelled by the Spirit” to go to Jerusalem. The word translated as “compelled” (NIV) is dedemenos. The word means to “bind” something and is translated as “imprison” in many places. It refers to tying wheat together in a harvest or cuffing a prisoner. It is a strong word describing Paul’s relationship to the Spirit.

Jerusalem will prove dangerous to Paul. However, it does not come as a surprise.

I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23) I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. (Acts 20:22–23 NIV)

Stepping into the treacherous demands courage. Yet Paul journeys, confessing his connection with the Spirit.

We like to talk about being led by the Spirit. It feels good for God to direct us into uncharted waters. But what about dangerous waters? Are we willing to be tied to the Spirit in such a way? Would we be willing to venture into places that are uncomfortable, even destructive to what we deem important?

This passage reminds us that giving up control is crucial. In America, freedom is a cultural staple; anything that limits freedom is anathema. Yet Paul clearly discards personal freedom, choosing submission to the Spirit’s direction. He calls himself a doulos (servant or slave) of Christ. Louw and Nida define the word doulos.

pertaining to a state of being completely controlled by someone or something

We sing Frances R. Havergal’s song (February 1874):

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King. Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee. Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne. Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

May we confess this song willing, as Paul, to be tied to the Spirit’s direction with absolute sincerity.