It sounded so funny. On April 28, 2012, United Press International reported that thousands of gallons of milk poured onto Interstate 40 at a major interchange in Amarillo, TX. The driver of a tractor-trailer lost control and overturned his rig. He dumped so much milk on the busy highway that traffic had to be diverted until the spill was cleaned up. But the dairy business wasn’t laughing. Milk is expensive and its loss was costly to the company.
The old adage says, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” Why? Once a glass of milk has tipped over, there’s no retrieving it. If a truck of dry goods had overturned, most of its cargo could be salvaged. But liquids cannot be gathered up again. They’re lost forever.
Twice in the Bible, Paul spoke of his own life as a drink offering, poured out as an irretrievable sacrifice on the altar of divine service (Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6). He was in prison both times and knew that if he was freed from prison or from death, this meant only one thing for him – continued service to God (Philippians 1:20-25). He was committed and there was no “taking back” what he had given to God.
Does that seem like too costly a commitment for us? Is it too much of a stretch for us to “pour out” our lives on the altar of God’s service? Do we want to retain the option of gathering back what we’ve given to God, in case things become too difficult or fail to turn a profit? Does the finality of being “poured out” disturb us?
Maybe it’s escaped our notice, but our lives are like liquid – liquid that’s being poured out without any hope of retrieving it again. That’s what the Bible says: “For we will surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again” (2 Samuel 14:14). We have no control over this process. The wheels of time are steadily grinding down our lives. Our lives are continually being poured out – but for what purpose? Are we pouring out our precious days for frivolous pursuits that will never last? Or, are we giving ourselves to God’s eternal purpose that will endure to everlasting life? A well-known servant of God used to say, “Only one life, so soon it will pass; only what’s done for Christ will last.” Jim Elliot, a missionary to the Auca Indians of Ecuador in the last century, died a martyr’s death. Yet he was ready to die because he lived by the creed, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, I give myself to You. Your word says, “He who loses his life for My sake and for the gospel’s sake will find it.” Help me, O Lord, to give what I cannot keep, to gain what I cannot lose. Amen.