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by Chris Seidman


    One Saturday morning I was sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast with Skyler. We were eating the same thing, Cheerios, though they were prepared differently according to our likings. I was eating out of a bowl while Skyler was eating off the table. I was having my Cheerios “wet” while Skyler was having his “dry”-“very dry” in fact. I was managing to get the majority of mine in my mouth while Skyler was managing to get the majority of his everywhere but in his mouth.

    There are times after Skyler gets done eating when it appears as though our kitchen has become some kind of culinary war zone, a veritable “no man’s land.” Of course I’ve been told by many women that it’s difficult to find a man in the kitchen after a meal, but that’s not what I mean when I use the term “no man’s land” in regard to Skyler.

    This Saturday, however, I wasn’t concerned with the kitchen being transformed into “no man’s land.” The Pensacola News Journal sports page had my attention. I was catching up on the world of sports when I felt a small hand patting my arm. I looked over and there was Skyler, holding a Cheerio up to my mouth.

    This was a significant moment, believe it or not. It wasn’t the first time that Skyler had attempted to feed me. He had tried to feed me before with things far less tasty than a Cheerio. He was generous with everyone when it came to sharing his broccoli, carrots and cold green beans, but he never got around to offering anybody his Cheerios.

    I tilted my head, opened my mouth, and Skyler inserted his entire hand in order to deposit the Cheerio. With as big a mouth as some people say I have, it wasn’t that much of a stretch for me. He had a huge smile on his face when he left his deposit, and I couldn’t help but smile as well.

    I never finished reading the sports page that morning but ate the rest of my breakfast out of his hand. I certainly could feed myself a lot more efficiently than he could. But there was something special about my boy making an effort to feed me by hand something that was precious to him after months of me feeding him by hand.

    Our Father in heaven must feel the same way when we offer Him something of our own free will after all the years and ways in which He’s blessed us. How precious it must be when He feels a hand patting Him on the arm and sees us with an offering in our hands and smiles on our faces. It isn’t that God can’t live without the praise, thanksgiving, love, affection, adoration and offering of our lives. It’s just that He doesn’t want to live without such things any more than I want to live without such things from my son.

Our Father in heaven must feel the same way...
    In the Old Testament one of the ways the people of God expressed their devotion and thanksgiving to God was through an animal sacrifice known as a “freewill offering.” It was a voluntary sacrifice motivated out of thanksgiving for what God had done in their lives. A “freewill offering” is, in essence, what I received from Skyler, and that was why I was so touched. It was something he did of his own initiative and choice. This is what God longs to receive from His people, and when He does, it touches Him deeply.

    I wonder if Paul had the concept of a “freewill offering” in mind when he wrote Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.” In view of God’s mercy, as a response to God’s mercy, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, and this becomes our spiritual act of worship. Our very lives are “freewill offerings” to God, made to Him in view of His mercy in our lives.

    Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” This verse is most likely referring to physical death. But I can’t help but consider that it’s a precious thing in God’s sight when His people die to themselves, to their own selfish desires and live for Him, what He wants them to do, and how He wants them to live. Ephesians 5:2 says that Christ “gave Himself up... as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

    We tend to think of worship as what transpires in an assembly with other believers on Sunday mornings. Romans 12:1 has nothing to do with what goes on among an assembly of believers on Sunday mornings, but has everything to do with the lives of believers Monday through Saturday. “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.” It’s entirely probable that the “freewill offering” God most desires from us is not necessarily the offering of our lips for one hour on Sunday mornings, but the offering of our moral and ethical lives Monday through Saturday.

    Years ago around Thanksgiving, Paul Harvey told millions of Americans the sadly comical but all-too-true story of a phone call received by a nationally recognized poultry company. In November of every year they operated a toll-free 800 number for Americans to call who had questions about how to prepare their holiday turkeys. One woman called asking how long was “too long” for a turkey to be frozen and yet still edible. For almost two decades she had kept one in her freezer- the same one. The customer service representative said that it still might be fine to eat but didn’t want to say for sure. The woman replied, “Well, I’ll just give this one to the church and go get a fresh one.”

    This wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time, that God gets the leftovers. It’s a sad but common reality that when His people have made “freewill offerings” they often have done it with the leftovers of their lives-the things that aren’t really all that precious to them and don’t cost them much either. Do you remember what David, a man after God’s own heart once said? “I will not... sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing” (1 Chron. 21:24).

    I must confess that there have been too many times when I’ve offered God something that cost me nothing. There are plenty of times in my life when I’ve offered God nothing of what was precious to me and everything that meant little to me. It’s easy to sing songs on Sunday mornings because it doesn’t cost me much. It’s far more difficult and costly to live up to the promises I made in those songs.

    The day Skyler offered me his Cheerios was significant because he offered me something precious to him. For once, he wasn’t offering me his broccoli, his carrots or his cold green beans, but he was offering me something as precious as life itself to a toddler — his Cheerios. It doesn’t impress me when he offers me a cold green bean. But when he offers me a Cheerio it does, because he’s giving me back something that I’ve given him which has become precious to him.

    What’s precious to you? Your time? Your treasure? Your talents? Have you been giving God your cold green beans? Don’t you think He deserves your Cheerios?

      © 2001, Chris Seidman. Excerpted from Little Buddy, New Leaf Books, 2001. Used by permission.
      Title: ""
      Author: Chris Seidman
      Publication Date: June 16, 2001


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