Hands up, full on, all out, unconditional, no holds barred surrender.
Why is it so hard?
On Sunday, our pastor preached "that sermon." Do you know the one I mean? The one that's ever so true and ever so good for you, but oh so hard to actually live out because it requires so much that it hurts. The one where he reminds you that God wants it all, everything, no holding back.
Before the sermon, I had that feeling. The one I get sometimes when God is speaking something to my heart and I feel like I must share it, but I don't quite want to, but I can't get around it. I don't know if you have ever experienced it. There are different names for it I suppose, but I had it and it could not be ignored.
It was this scripture,
"This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed and established it--the LORD is his name. 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'"
At the time, I didn't realize it would connect with the sermon so profoundly, but by the end I saw the full picture. God asks so much, requires my everything, and that's tough and hard to give. What I have to realize is that when I surrender, and I give Him whatever that thing is that seems so hard to let go of, what He gives in return is worth the sacrifice. When I surrender in obedience, the LORD who formed and fashioned the Earth says for me to call to Him and He will show me great and unsearchable things I don't know. I can't know them because what I'm holding onto prevents me from knowing them.
What is it that He intends to show me? What are these great and unsearchable things? I don't think my natural mind can comprehend this because that which He wants to show me may not come in the form that I want or wish. What He will always show me...is Himself. He shows me more of who He is, more of Jesus. I experience and get to see in a new way more of His love, more of His peace, more of His unconditional steadfast grace and more of His mercies that are new every morning.
He's my Father who knows better than I what is good for me and what I truly need, even if that isn't what I truly want at the moment. He sees the end. He sees down the road. He sees my blind spots, and He wants to help and to cover me. He knows that holding onto whatever I cling to is not what's best. That's why He's asking for it.
Not because He's mean and wants to spoil my fun. Not because He's greedy and on a power trip to make me submit to His reign.
My little princess would love to eat candy every moment of the day. Last night, she wanted a lolly that a friend had given her, but it was almost time for dinner. Rational mother that I am, I said not until after dinner which sent her into a myriad of tears and whines. She said, "Mommy you don't like it when I say no to you, and I don't like it when you say no to me either." How profound my little mirror. The logic was so pristine that I think her dad might have given her the lolly just for her masterful philosophical effort, I know I almost did.
However, the truth is I can't always give her what she wants. I can't always say yes because that wouldn't be good for her. I can't let her eat candy all the time. I can't let her keep a lolly in her mouth and run around because she could fall and get hurt. I can't let her play with knives because she could cut herself. I can't let her have everything she wants because that would make me....well....it would make me a horrible mom.
Do you think that perhaps, God as a loving Father, knows what is best for us just a bit better than we do? Does He maybe understand that what it is that we are clinging to is something that is already hurting us or will hurt us in the future? He can't let us keep everything we want (or do everything we want either) without coming to us and saying, "You have to let that go, put it down, it can hurt you." He has to because if He didn't, that would make Him....well.... it would make Him a horrible dad.
So God was knocking on the door of my heart as I ran and hid myself in distractions. (Do you ever do that? Are you doing it now?) He patiently waited a few days for me to stop what I was doing and allow the Holy Spirit into these places in my heart that I find hard to surrender. I did well trying to ignore it and tune it out with Facebook and television and whatever else I could find to distract myself, but I couldn't fight Him any longer. I had to stop and do some business with my Dad. There were some things that He was wanting me to surrender. I couldn't fight Him any longer.
It was difficult (and still is.) I cried the tears and the sobs of a broken heart struggling to listen to what's best for me. I admit I found it difficult to breathe as all the questions and all the "what ifs' and "but Daddys" and rationalizations as to why I should keep holding onto these things surfaced in my heart and past my lips. A lesser father might have given in, but thankfully, my good Daddy knew (and knows) He can't always give in. He knows and wants what's best for me. He wants me to trust Him.
Guess what? He wants you to trust Him too.
I read this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer today. It's from The Cost of Discipleship.
“No one should be surprised at the difficulty of faith, if there is some part of his life where he is consciously resisting or disobeying the commandment of Jesus. Is there some part of your life which you are refusing to surrender at his behest, some sinful passion, maybe, or some animosity, some hope, perhaps your ambition or your reason? ... How can you hope to enter into communion with him when at some point in your life you are running away from him?”
How like us to run away from Him, yet He is always pursuing. We can't hide from Him. (Psalm 139:7-12) He won't give up. He will keep pursuing and keep asking for whatever it is that is hindering us from fully submitting our lives to Him and fully trusting Him. It's just a matter of time really. We will have to chose if we want what we want, or if we want what's best, Him.
Wow. That's really hard isn't it?
In these moments with God, I began to see just how badly I needed to surrender to Him. In my own strength, I began thinking I have to do this. I have to surrender, but I only found that I just didn't (and don't) have the strength or power to do it. I couldn't (and can't) just give to Him what He is asking on my own. Do you see the problem here? I share this without fully understanding it, but read this from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
“In one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, "You must do this. I can't.”
Whether you replace it with something that's better or give me nothing at all in return, I surrender because what I want is YOU. I realize that Your ways are higher than mine. You know what's best for me, and You love me too much to let me hang on to things that I don't need in my life.
And the reality of this scripture hits me as I have to once again make it my own.
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ
It's all rubbish. It's all loss compared to knowing Him. That I may gain Him and be found in Him...Is that not much better than the things I cling too?
When one of my nephews had just learned to walk, I remember very vividly him walking out to the dock with his dad and his older brother. Of course the older brother was running anxiously to get out to the dock, but the little guy just couldn't keep up. He started crying and lifted his wee hands into the sky. My brother, hearing the cries of His son, stopped, turned around and came back, and scooped him up in his arms and carried him out to the dock.
That was about 20 years ago and that picture is still burned into my mind. Why? Because in that moment, God showed me a glimpse of Himself and His love for me. Sometimes I can't keep up. But, when I stop and cry out to Him, when I raise my hands and say "Daddy, I can't do it on my own. Come and get me," He stops and turns to me. He scoops me up into His arms and carries me. Why? Because He's a good Daddy and He loves me and doesn't expect me to do what I'm unable to do on my own.
So tonight, I have to once again tell my Dad that I can't do it on my own. I can't give these things on my own. I need Your help. Help me to trust Your love for me. Help me to let go and to surrender.
And Daddy picks me up, places me on His shoulders and says, "Let's do it together."
Will you surrender too?