By Shewanda Riley
A few years ago, I wrote about surrendering all to God. Since I wrote those words, God has continually challenged me to take surrender one step further and live a consecrated life. What I’ve learned over the years is that the consecrated life isn’t just one of continual fasting and prayer. I used to think that the consecrated life was like a surrendered life. However, I wanted to be clear what the connection was between surrender and consecration. So, I found an article on www.auburn.edu that explained it beautifully: “Submission is a strong word; consecration, one still stronger. Surrender is cessation of resistance; consecration, a transfer of all we are and have to Christ for active service. It covers person and property, talents and opportunities, and accepts Christ as leader, manager, friend, and Savior–present, active, and efficient in all the details of life.”
After reading that explanation, I better understood the article’s statement about the degrees of consecration and that it was progressive: “Consecration brings new relations, makes new demands, offers new privileges.” We see this in the liturgical consecration services where leaders are elevated to offices of great spiritual authority like Bishops. Consecration means that whatever is set apart goes from being common to being sacred.
During the 47-day holy season of Lent that starts this week, many of us strive to sacrifice worldly pleasures to have a more intimate relationship with God. Some also see Lent as setting apart our lives for service to God; it becomes a time when our focus is not just on personal sacrifice but seeking ways to give back to God. The biblical story of Hannah is a good example of this.
I Samuel 1 describes how a barren Hannah prayed earnestly for God to grant her a child. Once she had Samuel, she gave him back to God. Verse 26 says, “And she said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” Once he was born, she did just as she had prayed.
Surprisingly, once we get our miracle or breakthrough, many of us have barely thanked God before we’re asking for another. Even as we focus on repentance, prayer and fasting during this season, we should also think about ways we can give back to God as part of the process of consecrating our miracles. One way we can give back to God is to pledge to return the miracles and blessings he gives to us back to him. God can understand that we want to have “miracles of consecration,” but he might just want us to do like Hannah and consecrate not just our miracles but also our lives.
Shewanda Riley (Aunt Wanda), PhD, is a Fort Worth-based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @shewanda. You can also listen to her podcast at www.chocolateauntiepodcast.com.