A Consecrated Life
“I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” (John 15:16)
There is no life so unhappy and discontented as one that is aimless. For any life to be satisfying it must have a goal that leads the path upward. Some people indeed succeed in what they undertake; but their goal is so low that when they accomplish their aim it is as bad as failure could have been. To one who aims low, or not at all, success can never come; for it is only when we approach near to what God intended we should be, the very best that is in us, that real success can be attained. Success can mean nothing less than the accomplishment of good.
Though one might “hitch her wagon to a star,” so high and noble are her aspirations, yet if after all that star is an earthly one—knowledge, personal influence, ability, riches, honor—and her aspirations be realized and she arise high in the world, she will not find the satisfaction in her attainments that she hoped for. We, in our natures, are not altogether earthly; there is in us a nature that craves to be in tune with heaven. A life that gives exercise to this part of being and provides a way for the satisfying of the heart’s craving for God is the only one that brings what every person desires—soul rest. That is why I wish to talk to you about the consecrated life, the life all given in humble, willing service to God.
Under the old Mosaic law one tribe of the children of Israel was chosen for the service of God in a peculiar sense, and they were set apart from the rest for that purpose. Out of that tribe the priestly family was chosen, and they were to serve at the altar and in the tabernacle. The vessels that were used about the altar and everything consecrated to the Temple service were to be used for that purpose only, and if in any way they became unfit for that service they were destroyed; never were they used part of the time for common purposes.
Our service now is not according to that old, formal worship; for now hearts and affections, not pots and pans, are asked in consecration. Then the service of God consisted to a great extent in the proper keeping of certain forms and ceremonies; now the service of God is counted only that devotion which comes from a sincere and consecrated heart. The consecration of earthly vessels then is a picture of the complete consecration of heart now; for we are to be fully the Lord’s for all time, not giving a portion of our time and affection to the world and sin, and to the following of selfish purposes. Every act of life, every thought of the heart, every affection of the soul, all for God and done in the glory of God.
This consecrated life is expected of every Christian. In fact, no person can live a conscientious, Christian life long without finding such a consecration necessary. Either he must give himself fully to God, or drop back into the cold, formal life that many live, but none enjoy. Do not let anyone think that such a devoted life is irksome, for it is not. We are so created that the heart naturally craves God; and when the powers of sin that bind have been broken and the soul has been set free to follow its right course, the highest pleasure is found in sincere service to God.
Out of the ranks of those who fully follow Him, God chooses some whom He sees in His wisdom could particularly glorify Him in special service, and these He calls to the work He would have them to do. To such there comes a conviction of heart, an inward knowledge, that makes them know they are set apart for special service.
There are many kinds of work that are in a peculiar sense the Lord’s. Work among the poor and needy, visiting them, and ministering to their wants, especially to the sick and helpless among them, is to be found almost everywhere, and for those who will do this work humbly and gladly there is a rich reward in Heaven. One of the tests put to true religion is, has he who professes to possess it visited the fatherless and widow in their affliction? To think that we can be Christians and shut our hearts against those who are in need shows that the first principles of true Christianity have not been learned by us.
Again, there is the ministry of song, when the voice which God has given is used to win souls to God and to encourage those who are cast down. This is a wonderful and noble work.
Another noble and wonderful calling is the work of a missionary. There are many departments of this work for which women are especially fitted, and there is ever room for more persons willing literally to leave all to follow Jesus. In no other calling can one so fully give all for Jesus. To be successful in this field years of hard work are necessary, and some must lay down their lives on the battlefield. The call is for consecrated workers. Whether home missionaries, gospel workers, or missionaries to foreign lands, from all God wants a consecrated and willing service.
The one who is thus called, and accepts the call, must expect a long, and in some respects a difficult, preparation. Those vessels that are the most precious are often the longest in the hands of the potter, and the processes through which they must pass, the most severe. The one who is to stand before the people as an example of the grace of God, a pattern for others to follow, must expect to be made like the Great Pattern. Preparation for God’s work is, on our part, of two kinds—that which is acquired through study and application, and that which is learned in the school of experience.
My dear girl, if deep in your heart of hearts you feel that God is calling you, that you should dedicate your life to the work of God, then turn your face resolutely to the things of God. Study the Word of God, and all other books that will give you the knowledge you will need for your work. If a vocation is considered that requires more schooling, it should only be undertaken upon proper counsel. All the while keeping ready to do the little things for God that you find need doing by the way.
Besides this, live close to God in prayer, fighting your life battles through, seeking in everything to follow the guiding of the Lord. To you will come many experiences that will test your grace and fortitude, many temptations to try you, that you may prove your strength and courage, and that you may know the battles that others have to fight.
If God has called you to His work, look not upon it as a hardship; but go forth gladly, willing and ready to go and to suffer and die for the cause you love. From your ranks, you who are girls now, God will call many for service. Let Him find willing servants, who will fully yield their whole lives to Him.
But I would not forget the rank and file, those who are not specially called, but whose lives are set in the ordinary channels, who are to make the home women of our land. Let not one think that only in special service is consecration needed. Every act of our lives can be a service to God. She who makes a good home where others are encouraged and strengthened, she who is ready to speak a kind and encouraging word to those in need, she who keeps up a humble and quiet everyday service to God—she is glorifying Him just as much as are they who go on special missions.