“There is a God. It is not me.”
(The first line of chapter five in the book I’m reading, “The Me I want to Be” by John Ortberg.)
What a great line – that should be my motto. It’s the beginning of true wisdom. To really live in relationship with God, we have to surrender.
Surrender is difficult: it requires a pushing down of my pride and that’s an ongoing battle. I have to admit I’m not in control and that if I really was it would be a disaster; that I need someone else to take control and “drive” my life – someone who is stronger and wiser. It’s an act of denying my selfish wants, opinions, hopes and brilliant plans. It’s a falling back and completely letting go, which is scary! What if God messes up or isn’t paying attention or…? Trust or don’t trust. It’s as simple as that.
Surrender is necessary: Jesus mentioned it quite a few times in various ways. This verse in particular stood out to me today, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” John 12:23-25 NLT
Notice the part that says “its death will produce many new kernels”. So my impact for Jesus is dependent on me dying to myself and surrendering? It sure sounds that way. Unless I give up everything to God every day, I can’t help bring others to Him. I definitely don’t want to be alone or lose my true life – my life with Jesus.
Surrender to God is a paradox: by losing everything I gain everything that really matters. Letting go of the “security” of things, money, and the thoughts and plans my brain can come up with actually gives me real security, knowing God is in control and He is good. He provides. He is strong. He loves.
Surrender is painful: I don’t think Jesus ever said it would be easy to “die”, to take up our cross and follow Him. Actually, He said it would be hard but to take heart because He’d already done it and overcome. (John 16:33) God Himself knows the pain and challenge of surrender from Jesus’ anguished prayer time in the garden of Gethsemane. Sometimes we have to surrender or submit to God’s discipline, knowing it will be for our ultimate good, even though it hurts.
Surrender is a constant choice: Choosing to surrender in one moment or one day is good but it won’t last forever. Each decision, each thought or temptation, each desire that surfaces – I choose whether or not to surrender that to God.
Lately I’m having to practice really surrendering my girls to God. I realize that as they grow they pull away, which is natural, and begin making more choices on their own. I’ve invested myself in them for a long time but they are not my project really, they are God’s. They are not my handiwork, although I was privileged to be part of “production” and have been a caretaker for the last 15-19 years. They are individuals, made by God on purpose, made with plans in mind, made with their own wills. They have to choose whether or not to surrender to God. I can’t make it happen. Watching them make choices and knowing I have no control over that has been hard for me. “What if they don’t choose to surrender to God? What if they make a really dumb, life-altering choice on a whim or feeling?” When those thoughts start racing God whispers in my ear, “Don’t you think I’m able to guide them and speak to them? Don’t you know I love them even more than you do?” Although it’s frightening, when I do take my hands off and trust God to lead and shape them I find peace. I can’t leave even a few white-knuckled fingers wrapped around the steering wheel of each of their lives. God reminds me almost daily that He can handle it…by Himself. It is really a relief to know that.
Maybe we should make a little note to remind us every day when we see it that we are not God. Maybe we should keep scriptures on hand and in our hearts about how good and able our God is to help us so we will trust Him more. What has been the hardest thing or person in your life to surrender completely to God lately? He can handle it, I promise. Let go.