I want to share an experience I had that changed my life. I was living in Phoenix and attending the Phoenix Local at the time. I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life… physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I had injured my back at work as a firefighter, and the Doctor had been blunt that I may not be able to return to that profession. I was 29 years old and wasn’t going in any particular direction relationally or spiritually. I was baptized as a teen and was regular in my church attendance because I had been raised with a strong sense that I should. I was fairly active in the local when asked, but didn’t seek ways to serve. I wasn’t hanging out in bars, robbing banks or living a hedonistic life, but I also wasn’t living exactly as I should; I just hid it well.
It was on a Wednesday night, during a song service, that I had an experience that changed my life. Someone called for song #166, “Is Your All On The Altar”. I had sung the song many times before, but for some reason this time the words seemed to leap off the page and smack me in the face. As we sang the very first line, “You have longed for sweet peace, and for faith to increase, And have earnestly fervently prayed; But you cannot have rest or be perfectly blest Until all on the altar is laid”…I was convicted in my heart.
I had been trying to run my life the way I wanted and had completely failed. I had been telling God what I wanted, how I wanted Him to bless me (and expecting Him to), instead of giving up my will to Him. Because of the physical, spiritual and emotional trials I was going through, I was finally humbled enough to listen. That night I realized what I had been doing and completely changed my outlook on life. I finally reached a point where I could actually could say, “Thy will be done,” and really mean it.
The changes in my life didn’t happen overnight, but my perspective on things did. Slowly, the trials I had been facing began to resolve because of the blessing of God. First, my back injury healed sufficiently for me to return to full duty with the Fire Department. Over the next few months, things that I had been failing at seemed to be falling into place. Within a year I met the woman that I would eventually marry, and was called into the ministry.
In my humanness I still find myself tempted to reach out and grab the steering wheel of my life and try to be in control of everything. Fortunately, even now, every time this song is sung, I can’t help but flash back to that Wednesday night song service many years ago. I can even remember where I was sitting. “Oh, we never can know what the Lord will bestow of the blessings for which we have prayed, Till our body and soul He doth fully control, And our all on the altar is laid.” I thank God for His patience with me, and His mercy for showing me through this song where I was at spiritually, and for helping me to place my all, my life, and my will on His altar.