David Livingstone (1813-1873) was a Scottish physician and pioneer missionary, used mightily of God to spread the gospel in Africa. He was also a scientific investigator , explorer and anti-slavery crusader. During his time in Africa, he kept a little white goat for its milk to remedy a stomach complaint he suffered with. On one occasion, the Lord gave Livingstone favour with a particular tribal chief. As was the chief’s tradition, he wanted to make a covenant with the missionary. This required the two men to exchange gifts between them. The chief offered Livingstone his spear, claiming it would give him respect among the people as he travelled, as they would recognise his spear and give him favour. Livingstone asked the chief what gift he would like to receive from him. To Livingstone’s dismay, the chief pointed to his little white goat and answered, “That!”
We all have areas in our lives that need surrendering when the fire of God comes. I may, or may not, be aware of my “not that’s”, my “little white goats” that I cling on to, withhold, depend on or give first place before God in my life. If the Holy Spirit has not shone His searchlight of conviction in that area, I am free, but if He is requiring surrender in a particular area that I am unwilling to deal with, I will only travel in circles, making no progress to the Promised Land. The long-suffering and goodness of God will draw me to the place of surrender if I have spiritual “ears to hear”. When I surrender my unwillingness to Him, and humbly ask Him to work with me to make me willing, He obliges. God does not want “my” willingness, otherwise I have something to glory in that “I”, (the big I), was willing.
Philippians 2:1 “For it is God who works in you both to will, and to do, of His good pleasure.” When I surrender my will for His, God works with me to bring me to that sweet place where He makes me willing and enables me to do His will joyfully. (You cannot do the will of God miserably). He has done the work, His alone is all the glory for making an unwilling child willing. Now I discover that the Lord’s good pleasure is also mine!
The sinless Son of God agonised in Gethsemane because He was unwilling to die. Jesus prayed, Matthew 26:39, “….O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…..” but then He surrendered and chose His Father’s will saying, “…nevertheless not my will but thine be done.” As Jesus surrendered His will, His Father sent an angel from heaven to strengthen and enable Him to embrace the task before Him – the salvation of mankind. Thus it is not a sin to not want the will of God, it is a sin not to choose it when God has shown us what He requires.
The book of Acts records the birth of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This was a tremendous move of God as the gospel was spread abroad. Acts 4: 31 – 37 “…..they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke the word of God with boldness…….they were of one heart, one soul, neither said any of them that the things they possessed were their own, but they had all things common…….great power…..and great grace were upon them. Neither was there any among them that lacked. Those who owned land or houses sold them and laid the money at the apostles’ feet and distribution was made to every man according to need…….”
The next chapter, Acts 5, records how Ananias and Sapphira joined themselves to the people and pretended they were one with them in vision. They sold a possession and kept back part of the price deceitfully, donating the remainder to the cause. However, the Holy Ghost gave Peter discernment and uncovered their deceit, addressing it with them, “……..you have not lied to men, but to God,” Acts 5: 1-11. The couple were both struck down and died.
If Ananias and Sapphira had been open in their dealings, walked in truth, they need not have died. They were unwilling to give their all, their sin was their pretence of belonging to a group who God had worked with and brought to a place of full surrender. They wanted to be a part of the great power, great grace and no lack, but were unwilling to pay the price – full surrender. Because of their deceit and pretense, great judgement fell upon them.
None of us are in the place of full surrender, but God will honour truth. God meets people where they are walking in truth. He will not slay them, but demands that we walk in the light of what He has shown us. He is long-suffering and works with us in our choices. What is my “little white goat?”…..my “not that”. My wrong choice can limit the Unlimited One! I can stay in “second best”, be in truth about it and God will not leave me, for He is faithful to the unfaithful, but I will never experience the fullness of my birthright in the Promised Land of fullness of great power, great grace and no lack.
Paul prayed that we might be filled with all the fullness of God. All the fullness of God is found in Jesus Christ. His fullness requires my emptyness, it is a two sided covenant. Calvary fulfilled God’s side. Full surrender on a daily basis, as I am presented with situations and relationships is the price tag to fulfil my side of the covenant. Surrender is always in the now! We have a deep assurance from His word of His love and faithfulness to us. He is committed to bringing us through to reveal His Son in us, bringing glory to His name. Fullness is the birthright of every child of God. I can never out-give God and no little white goat is worth hanging on to when a royal exchange from the King of Glory awaits me.