Has your heart ever yearned from within for something more? We are not speaking of yearning for another possession, a new job or an exotic vacation to escape the mundane. What we are talking about is much deeper. In fact, the ache is so deep it can’t be explained. This is what we call “the inner tugging of your heart.” It is as if something is pulling at you from within saying, “There has to be more!”
Maybe—just maybe—the yearning you feel is coming from your Savior. Perhaps the best thing God could do for you right now is to suddenly interrupt your “now” and call you back to the altar, back to Him. But you can’t build an altar until you understand what God wants to see burning there: your heart.
I (Pat) heard the Lord say to me recently while in prayer, “We believe God is looking for those whose hearts will burn again for Him.” He is looking for those who are desperate and meek, those who realize that without a deep encounter with God they simply will not have the strength to go forward in God. He is calling you to come away with Him to a place where your heart will burn within you. Are you willing?
There are times in our marriage when we know we have to get away with each other. It is in these moments when we slow down that we realize a fresh how much we truly love each other. In these times of refreshing, romance is restored to our relationship, and we gain a fresh vision and passion for what lies ahead. In the same way, the most incredible experiences we have had with the Lord always seem to happen when we have chosen to “come away” with Him.
To take a sabbatical with God means you will have to stop being seduced by the voice of man, the excitement of the crowds and the accomplishments of self and allow your heart to respond to the one who is love. The choice to live upon the altar of obedience is ours. Yet with obedience comes sacrifice. You have likely heard it said that the greater the anointing the greater the sacrifice, which can also mean the greater the isolation as well. Those who desire to know God at a deep level often have to meet Him in secret. When the crowds were pursuing Jesus, He said to the disciples, “Come away with Me” (see Mark 6:31).
One of our heroes is Pastor Jack Hayford. In an article called “A Time of Altars,” he wrote that altars memorialize the place where God meets us. They “represent the occasion and place where we have had a personal encounter with God. We may not always be able to make a physical altar, but there can be one established in our hearts.” Hayford then went on to point out altars that appear in many different forms throughout the Bible, noting that altars can be a place of encounter (Gen. 28), forgiveness (Jesus on the cross), worship (when Old Testament priests offered worship on behalf of the people at the altar of incense), covenant (the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis) and intercession (when the prophet Joel called the leaders to intercession). “There is a place of ‘altaring’ and a price of ‘altaring,” Hayford wrote. “Altars have a price—God intends that something be ‘altered’ in us when we come to altars. To receive the promise means we make way for the transformation.”
In Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG), Jesus beckons us to come to Him: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
When we “come away” with Jesus, we are saying we desire to see Jesus more than we desire people, platforms, or plaudits. Those who desire to follow a Savior who often withdrew from the crowds (Matt. 14:13; Mark 3:7; Luke 5:16) will most likely have their greatest altar call experience not in front of a crowd but hidden away in a place others rarely visit. It will be a Psalm 42:7-8 “deep calls to deep” experience, the kind of encounter that changes a person. This kind of transformation requires that we die to ourselves. Is having an altar encounter with the Savior worth the sacrifice to you?
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