Surrender or mediocrity

These last weeks have been a lot about surrender for me. God is asking me to surrender even more to him. God is asking me to trust him even more and to experience the abundant life that comes when we surrender to his love. “All to Jesus I surrender” we sing on Sundays, and then on Mondays we pick up our lives and try to make it happen on our own, and try to get our needs for love, acceptance, worth, significance and security met on our own.

What does it mean to surrender all to God? It means to stop trying to act as if I know better than God. When Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he ended up thinking that he was God. He knows best. And all of us who are related to Adam (and that includes all the earth’s 6.6 billion inhabitants!) think like that. I know best! God doesn’t know best. I will decide for myself. I’ll be the king of my world. I’ll make it all happen on my own. And I am alone. That’s the default setting that all humans are born with. Even the most innocent looking baby is born with this deeply ingrained in him. It’s all about me. And nobody is gonna help me.

When you accept Christ into your life, you are born again (John 3:1-17), you become a new creation (2. Corinthians 5:17). Your spirit is made alive and perfect. But we still have our flesh. We still have the residue of our old nature in us. And that, which the Bible calls flesh, will not surrender to God. Flesh within us will still cause us to walk according to it, so we end up in the miserable and life stealing existence that Paul describes so eloquently in Romans 7. When we are not surrendered. When we still feel like playing God and deciding for ourselves what’s “good” and “bad”. When we put God on trial and tell him how he should run the universe in general and my life in particular (like in the wonderful movie Bruce Almighty), we walk according to the flesh, and we experience death in our lives.

Romans 6:23 tells us “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord“. Many use this verse in an evangelism context, but the audience that Romans was written to was a group of believers in Rome. They were Christians already. The verse, therefore, does not address issues of salvation, but it’s about a life principle that is true everywhere at all times for everybody. If we chose to walk according to our flesh. If we choose to live in sin. If I choose to choose what I know to be wrong, what I know the Holy Spirit within me is reminding me is wrong and won’t bring life, it will bring death. Every time. Death is lack of life. Death is bad conscience. Death is mediocrity. If you’re a believer, Satan can’t snatch you of Jesus’ hand (John 10:28). But he will do what he can to make sure you don’t experience the abundant life that Jesus has for us (John 10:10), but instead you experience the boring, lifeless, mediocre and empty tread mill existence of so many believers who have not surrendered to God and instead try to get their needs met outside of him.

God has challenged me to surrender all to him. And God is very specific. To me it’s not too hard to lay down my felt right to a cool place to live, to possessions, money, financial security, etc. That may be hard for others to lay down. For me the big challenge for God is to lay down my felt right to be loved by other people, to be needed, to be treated as somebody special. I struggle with this. These past two years have been very lonely, and I’ve whined and complained to God. I’ve resisted what God has been trying to do in this area of my life. Now God is showing me that I’ve found love and acceptance in other people. I’ve felt loved when people sought me out for advice. I have loved being needed by friends and family members. And slowly God has taken that away from me the last couple of years. It has hurt. It still hurts. But I’m beginning to see that God is calling me to lay it down in front of him. I want to be a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12) that he can do with however he pleases. And that means a life of total surrender. That means a life where I allow him to be God and me to be me. This doesn’t mean that God won’t allow me to have friends who love me and whom I can love back. It just means that he doesn’t want to share first place in my life with anybody else. As I surrender to him, and experience him as life, I am free to healthy, godly relationships where I don’t try to get needs met in other people that only he can meet.

I have made the choice to follow God’s will for my life many years ago, but still there are areas where God is asking for a deeper commitment. He is asking me to live a life of humility and sacrifice the way Jesus did here on earth (Philippians 2). Jesus is inviting me into the fellowship of his sufferings that Paul talks about in Philippians 3:10. It’s a fellowship of dying to my own flesh and my own desires, and allowing him to be enough in all areas of my life.

So that’s what I’ve chosen. God is the one calling me and giving me the strength and courage to do this. And he is the one who will make the abundant life with him more of a reality in my life as I surrender to him, and trust that even when he takes things and people away from that have given me comfort, he does it because he sees it’s best for me, and because he knows how to shape and mold me more into the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:28-29).

So here is the song that I’ve been singing a lot these last few weeks. There are tears and pain in singing it, but there is also joy, peace and life in a surrendered life. And I know that God knows what he is doing, even when I don’t understand or agree with it.

Torben – who realizes that surrendering completely to God is a process, and is glad that God doesn’t challenge me to more than he knows I’m ready to give him!

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