There has been something brewing in my mind and heart recently. I was thinking about what it meant to be completely surrendered to God. I think in some of our honest moments, we will have to say that we are not fully and completely surrendered to God, as we would like to think or believe.
I look at some of the things that I do not want to give up. I see my heart desiring things that can easily lead to idolatry. As I get older, there is a greater longing for comfort and security. Sometimes it is so discouraging to see how far we have strayed from the earlier stages of our Christian journey. There was a time when we were willing to lay down everything for Christ and the Gospel.
It is easy to rationalize and excuse ourselves by saying that back then we were immature, young and idealistic when we made those kinds of commitments of surrender. But is it really about immaturity or being too idealistic?
Maybe the reality is that our hearts have grown old; and we are not as pure in our love and devotion to God as before. Yes, life gets more complicated. Yes, life gets harder. Yes, life gets busier. But have we have put our selfishness, security and significance ahead of Christ and the call that God has given us to take up our cross and follow Him.
The more I was pondering upon these things, the more I was convicted about a simple test to see where we are when it comes to the topic of surrender. It is easy to “think” we are surrendered or willing to be surrendered, but we are able to find out exactly where we are by answering four simple questions. The way we answer these questions will truly reveal our hearts.
I have decided to call them the “Four-Evers” (pun intended). This is a sermon in the making. The four “ever” – 1) WhatEVER, 2) WherEVER, 3) WhenEVER, 4) WhichEVER
1) WhatEVER – Are we willing to do “whatever” God wants us to do, even when it does not fully make sense? The bigger question is: Are we willing to fully trust God with our future? Try to ask this question to people who are ambitious and see how they will respond. Ask this question to a single adult who have hopes and dreams about getting married. When we have our own ideas of how things “should be” then it is very difficult to say to God, “Whatever you want me to do Lord, I will do it.”
– Are we willing to go “wherever” God wants us to go, even when it is a place that we do not like or even expect? Once again, the question is: Are we willing to trust God and not be dependent on a place or a situation? We all long for security, which in turn causes us to be in a place where things are “safe.” When we start to dictate to God where it is that He should place us then we have disqualified ourselves from the race.
3) WhenEVER – Are we willing to do things “whenever” God tells us to them? Isn’t life about God’s timetable rather than our own? God’s timing is impeccable. How many times have we messed things up because we wanted something “now” or delayed in our obedience because we wanted something “later?” There is nothing more that reveals a self-centered heart than when things are not in our own prescribed timetable. When things do not happened when we want them to, we either take matters into our own hands or we just give up.
4) WhichEVER – Are we willing to follow “whichever” method or approach that God has for us to accomplish His will? Life is full of options. On one hand it is a good thing, but then on the hand it causes us to start dictating to God how things “ought to be” done. It is amazing how so many of us write out a laundry lists of things that we want God to do for us. We also put so many stipulations. We something get this idea that it is our “prerogative” and our “right” to see things happen the way we envision things to turn out. But how many times have we come to the conclusion that if God did things our way, we would have really been in a mess. Aren’t we thankful that we followed God’s leading and God’s approach to things?
How did you do on this test?
These are the four “evers” that I will have to constantly ask myself when it comes to the issue of surrender. For some reason, as I am getting older these questions have greater weight. The decisions I make now have greater consequence because it affects more people. But ultimately, I want to be able to answer all these questions with an affirmative “yes” not because it is good for me but it brings glory and honor to God.
C. S. Lewis in his book, Beyond Personality describes the exchange between the self-will and God’s will – in essence the art of surrendering. He writes, “Christ says, ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your money and so much of your work – I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self instead. In fact I will give you myself, my own will shall become yours.”
Andrew Murray in his book, Absolute Surrender writes, “The condition for obtaining God’s full blessing is absolute surrender to Him. You know that everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service. I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly.”
God is writing the story of our lives. When we are absolutely surrendered to Him, it is going to be a masterpiece and we are going to be left amazed.