Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Surrender, pt. 2

Today I want to look at why some people hesitate to surrender or choose to never surrender all to Christ… why people hang on to things in their own way and try to control their own lives. One reason can be seen as we look at the depth of surrender. Here is a detailed look at what this decision of surrender entails:

“To be a living sacrifice will involve all my time. God wants me to live every minute for Him in accordance with His will and purpose… No time can be considered as my own, or as ‘off-duty’ or ‘free.’…
To be a living sacrifice will involve all my possessions… All should be available to God for the furtherance of His Kingdom. My money is His… He has the right to direct the spending of each penny. … I must consider that I own nothing. All is God’s, and what I have, I have on trust from Him, to be used as He wishes.
To be a living sacrifice will involve all of myself. My will and my emotions, my health and vitality, my thinking and activities all are to be available to God, to be employed as He chooses, to reveal Himself to others. …All rights are His – to direct my living so that He can most clearly reveal Himself through me. God has the right, then, to choose my job, to choose my companions and my friends…
To be a living sacrifice will involve all my love. …I relinquish the right to choose whom I love and how, giving the Lord the right to choose for me… Whether I have a life partner or not is wholly His to decide, and I accept gladly His best will for my life. I must bring all these areas of my affections to the Lord for His control, for here, above all else, I need to sacrifice my right to choose for myself…” – Dr. Helen Roseveare

Does that seem too much to ask? Does it seem ridiculous to have to give up everything? Does it seem weak-minded? Does it seem extreme?
To many, yes, it does; to many, this whole notion of complete surrender seems utterly extreme. Some would look at the above explanation of surrender and call anyone who actually lives like that a “radical.” But in actuality, it’s not at all extreme or radical. When you look to the cross – look to Christ and His sacrifice – surrendering our lives to Him is not extreme or too much to ask. “In light of the incredible mercy of God poured out on us (past, present, and future mercies), a full and complete sacrifice of our lives is the only logical response we can make… in light of who God is and who we are, such surrender is completely reasonable.” As Isaac Watts penned in his well-known hymn “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross” (written in 1707) –
“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
We can ask, “shall we devote to [our] Saviour only our spare evening? Is He not worthy of the whole of our lives?” Can we give our all? Unfortunately, many people answer ‘no’ to that… allowing themselves to be tied too tightly to earthly things – hence why many never fully surrender.

Another reason for lack of surrender is plain old fear. “What might it mean for you today to offer yourself as a ‘living sacrifice’ to God?” Some fear surrender because of the uncertainty that comes with it; many “wrestle with real fears of what that might mean for us… Full surrender to Christ forces us to face the possibility – or the reality – of giving up some of the things we consider most important in life.” The fact is that “we don’t know what God knows – which is why we so often find it difficult to embrace His will and why we must learn to ‘trust and obey.’” It’s also a truth that “the pathway of surrender is not always an easy one.”
“Our natural tendency is to hold on tightly, to try to protect and preserve whatever we think we can’t live without. We are afraid that if we surrender everything to God – our health, our material possessions, our family, our reputation, our career plans, all our rights, our future – He might take us up on it!”
DeMoss points out that “many of our fears about relinquishing total control of our lives to God fall into four categories…"

  1. Provision – Will I have what I need?
  2. Pleasure – Will I be happy?
  3. Protection – Will I (and those I love) be safe?
  4. Personal relationships – Will my relational needs be met?
So how do we overcome this fear and resistance to surrender? For one, we can look to the promises of God because “the promises of God provide a powerful antidote to all our fears and free us to step out in faith and surrender.”
“[God says,] ‘I am your protection and your provision; if you have Me, you have all you need. So trust Me!’” We also have to remember to think properly about the temporal and the eternal. “Everything this world offers is temporary at best.” Remembering this helps tremendously!
As we continue in our walk with God, and as we continue to live in surrender, we are comforted, as “each ‘small’ step of surrender that we take confirms that God is worthy of our trust and prepares us to trust Him with bigger surrenders that may be required down the road.”
We can choose to either be bogged down by our fear and distrust, or we can let go, in faith that He knows best. We can either “trust the promises of God – which will free you to live joyfully under His loving Lordship – or live under the tyranny of that which you will not surrender.”
As an example for this – trusting His promises – here are a few quick Scripture verses related to the “four fears” mentioned:

  1. Provision – Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:19; Matthew 7:7; Philippians 4:6
  2. Pleasure – (first off, remember that “our hearts can never be truly satisfied with less than Him”) Psalm 16:11; 36:7-8
  3. Protection – Psalm 21:2, 4-6
  4. Personal Relationships – 1 John 1:3,7; Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 73:25
Another way to ‘trust and obey’ is to look at the example of our loving Christ, which is the perfect example of surrender. “From eternity past, through all of time, and through all of eternity future, Jesus’ life was, is, and always will be, one of absolute surrender.” When we look at Christ’s life we see that “Jesus came to earth expressly to do the will of God.” “In eternity past, He had surrendered Himself to the will of God – to become the sinbearer for all mankind… He surrendered – willingly, freely gave up His life – so you and I could inherit eternal life.” It is because of Christ’s surrender that we are saved. What a Saviour! What a comfort! And what an example! “What makes the attitude of the Lord Jesus so astounding is that He is God. For Him to surrender His will to that of the Father can only be explained in terms of utter selflessness, trust, humility, and deep devotion to His Father.”
Philippians 2:5 tells us that our “attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” One of the best ways to act on this is in surrender, because “every time you and I bow our heads in acceptance of and surrender to the will of God, we embrace the cross and we manifest to the world the heart of Christ who bowed His head to the will of His Father.”

A simple fact of this all is that “to call Him Lord means to say Yes – to His will, His Word, and His ways. We cannot call Him Lord and then proceed to run our own lives.”
No matter the issue, however daunting it may seem, whatever the price or fears, no matter where that surrender might lead you –
“To be totally surrendered to God means to bow the knee before a Sovereign Lord. It means to say Yes to God…

  • Yes to His choices for your life – even when they don’t seem comfortable or convenient
  • Yes to difficult or painful circumstances that you cannot understand or change
  • Yes to everything that is revealed in His Word
  • Yes to His plans, His purposes, and His priorities
  • Yes to the human authorities He has placed in your life
  • Yes to His disciplines
  • Yes to His control over your appetites, your body, your time, your relationships, your future – everything
To some, that type of surrender might seem to be bondage; but those who have bowed the knee – those who have laid down their arms and waved the white flag of surrender – know that it is the only pathway to true freedom.”

(Tomorrow – pt. 3: A practical/applicable look at surrender)

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