Surrendering our will to God
The words “surrender” and “sacrifice” are synonyms for the word “investment”. The dictionary defines investment as “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result”. It also lists the words, surrender and sacrifice, as having similar meanings.
Surrendering our will to God is similar to investing in new glorious lives in exchange for our weak and imperfect selves. Yet many of us see any form of surrender to God as potentially risky and lacking guaranteed returns.
Reasons we resist surrendering
Many of our life decisions are driven by fear; fear of losing out, fear of people, fear of failure, fear of being alone, fear of hunger, fear of poverty etc. We spend most of our lives avoiding fear and uncertainty. This has become our natural reflex. When we surrender to God, we can find the uncertainty unnerving, even though we can be certain that God has only good planned for us.
Matthew 10:28 ESV And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
2. Self-reliance and control
We live in a world that believes that “man can achieve anything when we put our minds to it“. It is a belief that is based on placing too much confidence in our own intellect. We think that we are able to control our circumstances, relationships and environment. The truth is we are like people who steer huge ships without any map on the truth nor the future. We cannot even control our next breath. It is God who holds the entire universe firmly in His hands. He controls everything.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
3. Lack of understanding of God’s true character
Many of us would trust our family to do the right thing for us in a time of need. The same cannot be said if we were called to trust our lives to complete strangers.
We may struggle with trusting God for the simple reason that we do not personally know Him. We refer to Him as our Heavenly Father without really believing He is a perfect Father. God is not incompetent, careless, heartless, petty nor a saboteur. Yet our reluctance to trust Him implies that this is how we view Him.
Psalm 86:5,11 ESV For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
4. Clinging on to worldly ways
There is a saying, “better the devil you know”. There is a great irony in this saying. When we follow the ways of the world, we are really following the devil. Satan is described as the god of this world.
2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Satan has blinded many minds from seeing God’s goodness. Essentially, he makes us focus on the temporal things of this world and forsake the amazing Fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Matthew 16:23 ESV But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Some reality checks
Here are some things to remember.
1. Our lives never belonged to us anyway
Everything that we have is a gift from God – even our next breath, our talents, our family, our friendships, our food, our money and so forth. These have never been ours to own in the first place. One could consider them merely gifts or a “loans” from the ultimate King and Creator of the entire universe.
Job 12:10 ESV In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.
When we neglect this truth, we can behave like workers in a palace who become so enamoured with our tools that we forget to ask the King what they are for. We use these tools to build tiny perishable toys for ourselves that will all be destroyed one day, instead of becoming part of a greater glory that is imperishable. God gives us gifts not to glorify ourselves. He has a purpose and plan for each one of us. Have we been missing out on God’s greater plan?
2. Everyone will account for how we have lived our lives
It may not be a day we think about much, but it is guaranteed to come. That’s the day of judgment. It is as certain as death. We can’t escape it. Just as every soldier has to give an account of their actions to their commanding chief, we will all have to give an account to God for what we have done with our lives on judgment day. Will we be like insubordinate soldiers?
2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
3. We have a habit of creating idols
We make other things god over God when we don’t surrender them to Him. Throughout history, man has created idols to worship, whether these are statues, our jobs, our family and even ourselves. God calls such people haughty, stubborn and corrupted. What has our pure love for God been corrupted by?
Exodus 32:7-9 ESV And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.
Becoming “buoyant” in God’s goodness
Faith is built on experiencing Him day by day. What would our lives look like if we lived an entire week, month or year completely possessed by the Holy Spirit? What power, freedom and joy would we experience? Every time we step out of our comfort zone to trust God, we experience God’s presence in our lives.
It is similar to swimming. If we learn to trust that water keeps us buoyant, we will learn to swim. Otherwise, we just end up standing on the edge of the water and never go anywhere.
Let’s start by surrendering our will to God one step at a time. The more we enjoy the freedom of being “buoyant” in God’s goodness, the easier it is to surrender all things to Him. This is essential to being a disciple of Jesus. He called us to renounce all that we have, so that He can give us a new life. Surrendering is really an investment in our own future.
Luke 14:33 ESV So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself …
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