Dag Hammarskjold was the second Secretary General of the United Nations, and he was widely held to be one of the two best leaders, including U Thant, the UN has ever had in its history. Recognizing his ability, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.
Hammarskjold wrote only one book in his lifetime, Markings in which may be found this quote.
“I am the vessel. The draught (draft) is God’s. And God is the thirsty one.”
In other words, Hammarskjold was saying that his life carried, like a vessel (a drink container), the substance of his life (his draught) and God drinks from that. It is also like the aroma from a sacrifice or from incense, which smells lovely to God.
It’s an interesting and holy way to think about one’s life – as meant for God’s senses and pleasure. Yet so often, we humans think of our lives as being vehicles of our own pleasure. Madison Avenue has done a skillful job of reorienting our focus. “Consume our products” is the mantra of businesses who survive by selling.
The result is that our “vessel’ gets filled with a drink God doesn’t want to imbibe. The Jesus disciple thinks in different terms. “How can I live in such a way that satisfies the thirst of God?” The question upends the way we look at everything.
“I appeal to you…to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,” Romans 12:1-2.
Arunah offered to King David everything he needed to make the sacrifice of repentance to the Lord: oxen, threshing sledges, and wood for the fire. “But the king said to Arunah, ‘No, I will buy them from you for a price; I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing,” 2 Samuel 24:22-24.
Lent helps us to refocus. With Jesus in the wilderness, the ever-present voices of Madison Avenue do not have a way to reach us because Madison Avenue derives its power and influence, fueled by menus of delights and showrooms of comfort and beauty.
God in the wilderness, we want to be the vessel from which you drink, lives that are infinitely more beautiful than the kingdoms of the world which we are often offered. We what to spend our lives pleasing you rather than being sated by the world. May your spirit lead us on this journey. In Jesus’ name we pray this. Amen.