As a Christian one of the hardest concepts for me to put into action, is the idea of total surrender. On the surface it seems so simple, just let go and let God you may have heard… or take your hands off the wheel is another common phrase. But for me knowing what it means to surrender and not living it out every day can become incredibly frustrating.
Usually when I think of surrendering to Christ my first thoughts are about the hurts, habits and hangups we experience in life as Celebrate Recovery would describe them. Areas that clearly go against the very nature of God and areas we know we have to move past, whether it be pornography, drug addiction, alcoholism, cursing, stealing, lying, cheating, gambling or a myriad of other problems.
For me, lust of the flesh, pornography and lying are the areas I have been embattled the most. In those areas I have taken great steps and measures to help me stay the course, using accountability software and a small network of accountability partners as examples. These are areas that are “cut and dry” and I know they have no place in a Christ-centered life.
But what about the “other” areas of life? You know… the good ones… like perhaps your career or family. What does it mean to surrender to Christ in those areas? What sorts of decisions would I make each day, if I wasn’t the one making the decisions? You certainly remember the old question What Would Jesus Do? As often as I heard this growing up you would think it would have clicked in my brain a long time ago… this question of total surrender.
You see I have been a Christian now for 11 years. The first few years after my salvation were the darkest (most sinful) years of my life. Why? Because I wasn’t ready to accept the life changing experience the Holy Spirit was bringing… so I suppressed His urging and chased after my sinful desires in the world. It was only recently, the last few years, that I began the process of surrendering to Christ and even now today can honestly say there is so much more to give.
Matthew 16:24 (ESV)
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
In Matthew 16 Jesus tells His disciples that if you want to follow Him, you have to DENY yourself and take up your cross. This denying is referring to the lustful desires of the flesh and not just lust in relation to sexual matters. Lust of the flesh can be ANY desire that becomes more important than God in your life. We have to DENY what our flesh wants and live according to the Spirit, which always seeks after righteous things.
Romans 8:28 is one of the most popular and memorized verses in all of scripture. In this verse Paul writes that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good” (emphasis mine). This sounds amazing, and this verse is used frequently to lift people up and encourage them when life seems to be one disappointment, let down or even tragedy after another. When I read this verse, I ask myself… do I love God? As a Christian it’s nearly impossible to say otherwise… I mean how can we be Christians and not love God? But beyond the words from my lips, does my life reflect a love for God? Does my daily thought life and the actions I take reflect a love for God? If I love God so much, why do I do so many things that He hates? Why do I hurt Him so often?
These are tough questions, but If I am ever going to reach a point of total surrender in my life, I have to be honest with myself when I examine my life. Today I want to encourage you to do the same. Get some alone time, away from the myriad of distractions in your daily life and examine yourself closely. If someone watched you go about your day, and was able to see into your mind and examine your thoughts… what would they find? Would they find someone who truly loves God and shows it every day? Or would they find someone who reports to love God with their lips, while secretly living a much different life.
If I am making you feel uncomfortable, my apologies. This article was written more to myself than anyone else. You see I struggle every day to grow more Christ-like and I know the reason that my struggle is so fierce is because I am trying to carry this burden under my own power.
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus tells us to come to Him, all who labor and are heavy laden and He will give us rest. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. You see Jesus knows exactly what it is like to live on Earth and the heavy burdens we will experience at different times. In fact, His life and ultimately His sacrifice on the cross was the greatest example of one man carrying all the burdens of the world on His shoulders.
His love for us is so vast, so extensive, so perfect that He never wants us to carry that weight on our own shoulders. When we fully surrender our lives to Christ, He takes that burden from us and we are finally free to live a life that more clearly reflects the love for God that lies deep within us.
So as I finish writing this article and go about my day, It is my hope and prayer that I can walk a life I just described to you. It is something I have wanted for a very long time, but have continually let my pride and selfishness stand in the way. When I make decisions, good or bad, large or small… one of the first things I want to ask myself?
What would Jesus do?