V. THE RESULT OF CONSECRATION—TO ABANDON OUR FUTURE
The result of consecration is that we are caused to cut off all our relationships with people, matters, and things, and especially to abandon our future and wholly belong to God. We need to consider this matter also in the light of the offerings of the Old Testament. When a bullock was taken for sacrifice and offered upon the altar, he was immediately cut off from all his previous relationships. He was severed from his master, his companions, and his corral. After he was consumed by fire, he even lost his original form and stature. All his choicest parts were changed to a sweet smelling savor to God, and all that was left was a heap of ashes. Everything was cut off, and everything was finished. This was the result of the bullock being offered to God. Since our consecration is also an offering to God, the result must also be the same. There must be the giving up of everything to be burned to ashes by God to the point where all is finished. If evidence of this relinquishing of all things and burning to ashes is not seen in a man, there is something wrong with his consecration. Some brothers and sisters still have hopes after their consecration of becoming such and such a person. This proves that their future has not been given up.
The future we are speaking about includes not only our future in this world, but also our future in the so-called Christian world. We all know how the world naturally attracts us and offers the hope of a future in it, but even the so-called Christian world holds an attraction to us and offers a hope of a future in it. There are some, for example, who hope to be famous preachers, some to be world-wide evangelists, and some to obtain the degree of doctor of divinity. All these are hopes for the future. Brothers and sisters, if we have been enlightened, we will discover that even in our hope for more fruit in our work, our hope for more people to be saved through our gospel preaching, our hope to lead more brothers and sisters to love the Lord, and our hope for more local churches to be built by our hand—even in these hopes—there are hidden many elements which are for the building up of our future. When we see the prosperity of others, we become envious. When we see the achievement of others, our heart is moved. All this proves that we still have hopes in our own future. All these hopes, however, never exist in a consecrated person. A truly consecrated man is a man who has given up his future. He abandons not only his future in the world, but also his so-called spiritual future. He no longer has hopes for himself in anything; all his hope is in God. He lives purely and simply in the hand of God; he is what God wants him to be and does what God wants him to do. Whatever the outcome may be, he does not know and does not care. He only knows that he is a sacrifice, wholly belonging to God. The altar is forever the place where he stands, and a heap of ashes is forever the result. His future has been utterly abandoned.
This giving up of the future is not a reluctant act after something has already occurred to wreck your future hopes; it is a willing surrender before such an event. It is not waiting till you have lost or failed in your business and then giving up. It is not waiting till you lose your job, till you cannot enter college, or till you fail to obtain a Ph.D. degree, and then give up. It is not this. When we speak of giving up the future, we mean that when a profitable business opportunity awaits you, when an excellent job awaits you, or when a Ph.D. degree awaits you, you willingly give it all up for the Lord’s sake. This is truly called the giving up of the future. Even if the entire glory of Egypt is placed before you, you can say to it, “Goodbye, I must go to Canaan.” Perhaps Satan will continue to call you from behind, saying, “Do come back. We have a Ph.D. degree here and an Egyptian palace for you. This is a rare opportunity.” If at this time you can face him and tell him straightly, “Be gone; these are not my portion,” this then is a true giving up of the future.
There is a very grievous situation today—many who serve the Lord have a future in the Christian world. We must understand that this is a very serious degradation. If this does not prove there was something wrong with the original consecration of the people concerned, it does prove they have fallen off the altar. A truly consecrated person knows from the outset that his future is through. If he still wants to have a future, he need not come to the church. He realizes that he should never have any future, because he is already on the altar. Sometimes he comes to a place of difficulty and finds that he has more courage, because this difficulty proves to him that he is still on the altar and still under God’s guidance. Sometimes he enters a period of ease, and he becomes on the contrary a little fearful, wondering if perhaps he has fallen off the altar and is no more under God’s guidance. Brothers and sisters, we need frequently to ask ourselves: What is the result of our consecration? Has our all become ashes on the altar? Has all our future been abandoned? Or have we reserved something that is hopeful?
Every one of us must go before God and deal thoroughly with this problem of consecration. If our consecration is not sound, sooner or later problems will arise in our service and in our spiritual condition. The temptations of future prospects are very many and very great, and these temptations are particularly severe to those who are especially gifted and can be used outwardly to some extent by God. There are many matters, many environments, and many attractions which can cause us to lose our consecration unconsciously. There is only one way for us to overcome these temptations, and that is to relinquish thoroughly all our future on the very first day of our consecration. This means that since we have consecrated ourselves, everything is through.
From the life of J. N. Darby, we may see what a truly consecrated person he was. He was greatly used of the Lord in the last century, many thousands being helped spiritually through him. Even in his old age he was still walking a straight path with the Lord. He could very well have had fame and position, but he did not take them. At a certain time in his old age he went to work in Italy and spent a night in a very plain and lowly inn. He was exhausted, and he bowed his head between his hands and sang softly: “Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee…” Even in this condition he had no murmuring, no regrets; he could joyfully sing this hymn to the Lord. I was really touched when I came to this point in reading his life story. The fact that he could preserve the result of relinquishing his future right to the end moved me. Although he was old, his consecration was not old; it was still as fresh as it was in the beginning.
Brothers and sisters, this result of abandoning all our future prospects always needs to be kept fresh within us. Never let our consecration become old. If it grows old, it is the same as if we had never consecrated ourselves. We should always be as ashes on the altar, always entirely for God to enjoy, always without any future.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)