Issue: 1st quarter 2016

A Life Surrendered

Written by Jerry Wierwille

by Jerry Wierwille

Psalm 37:7 GWT
Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.

Our world is inundated with the cultural mindset that if you just work hard enough and make the necessary sacrifices, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. This “super-human,” “I am unstoppable,” “I’m the only one who can make it happen” mentality is completely self-reliant and dependent upon one’s own capabilities and dedication. If we think that we must grit our teeth and work as hard as possible in order to achieve our dreams and goals in life, and that simple brute force and sold-out commitment to the task at hand is the only way to make it happen, then why don’t we just keep working on Sundays and forget about God?

It’s All About Us

What many have been falsely led to believe is that success and achievement are among the highest goals we can aspire toward in our lives. Having a vision and making it a reality is the motivation that drives such things as the entrepreneurial spirit in society. If you can imagine it, then you can build it. This type of thinking can become completely centered on our wants and our desires. It can feed into our inner longing to be recognized and to accomplish something great with our lives. Now, don’t get the wrong idea; working hard and striving to improve society and offer goods and services to humanity are not bad desires to have. We all work to make a living to provide for ourselves and others. But if we’re not careful, our life priorities can begin to shift without our consciously realizing it.

Everyone Wants to Make It On Their Own

Sometimes we might feel that we are the ones who must face reality alone and figure things out for ourselves, and we can easily end up succumbing to a “make-it-or-break-it by the sweat of our brow” mentality. This decline into a self-focused lifestyle can happen fairly quickly and go relatively unnoticed. Many times we may not even realize that we are becoming self-dependent because it seems natural to just bear the weight of everything upon our own shoulders and do it ourselves. This is this model of the world that is so prevalent around us. We hear catchphrases like, “Work hard because it all depends on you,” or, “Success is the outcome of sacrifice.” This type of mindset isolates and weakens an individual, blinding us to the enslavement we have become trapped by because life is not all about what we can do on our OWN.

Self-Centered is Not God-Centered

God did not intend for us to be self-dependent, self-reliant, or even self-motivated. Our culture seems to applaud the “self-motivated” individuals—those who are driven to achieve something based on their own enthusiasm or interest without compulsion or influence from others. Sounds pretty great, right? Don’t we all want to be that type of person? The downside is that this makes us prone to sliding into a “self-centered” mode. We may then look to ourselves most readily for the answers and solutions to life’s problems. Inside we are all broken and scared, and we think about ourselves a lot because we tend to hold onto the premise that “If I don’t look out for #1, who will?” We might think that if we hold on tightly enough, we can control what is going on, or fix it, or make it work somehow. But what we must realize is that every time we choose to take control and try to work things out on our own, we are pushing God out of the picture. Richard Neuhaus once wrote, “It is our determination to be independent by being in control that makes us unavailable to God.”[1]

Who is Sitting on the Throne?

So what does it mean to make ourselves “available to God?” It means letting Him be part of the picture—and there is no partial-picture with God. Either He is the One we are looking to or we are staring at ourselves for the answer. When it comes to letting go of our need to do everything ourselves and exchanging our self-dependency for depending on Him instead, we call that “surrender.” Surrendering is yielding to another, adopting their solutions, following their recommendations, and receiving their corrections by acknowledging their authority and complying with them. It requires abandoning our ideas and our desires and obeying those of another. Now, some might think that surrendering is a sign of weakness, but actually it is a sign of strength and maturity because we understand that when we surrender we are coming under the authority of someone stronger, wiser, and more capable than us. If we don’t surrender our lives to God, we become our own roadblocks for the ways in which God could work in our lives. In essence, we are telling God, “I’ve got this and I don’t need you.” Instead, we must learn to “let go, and let God.” This means we need to stop trying to sit on our own throne and submit to God who is sitting on THE throne.

Faith Involves Surrender

You may ask, “What if I am afraid to surrender my life to God? What if God’s solution doesn’t solve my problems immediately? What if God’s ideas are not what I want? What if God is telling me to change my course in life…but I am happy where I am?” Well, the thing about surrendering is that it requires TRUST. It requires trusting that God has the best intentions in mind for your life and that He knows what you need. “We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.”[2]

Choosing to surrender to God and trust Him is not solely about letting Him take care of your everyday concerns; it also entails obedience to His leading, even when He is pointing you outside of your comfort zone. Surrendering consists of your agreeing to forfeit the right to criticize God, to judge whether you like what He is telling you to do, or to compare how His ideas fit with yours.

Surrendering your life to God means:

  • Following where God leads you, even without knowing where you’ll end up.
  • Being patient for God’s timing, even without knowing when He will accomplish His plan.
  • Trusting that God will provide, no matter what, even without knowing how it will happen.
  • Expecting God to do the impossible (if that’s what it takes), but still acknowledging His constant goodness and grace even if what you pray for doesn’t come to pass.

Which Story Will You Choose?

Surrendering means choosing to recognize that God’s story for your life is better than any version you could come up with; it is being willing to exchange your dreams and life vision for His; and it is being okay with opting out of whatever choices you want to make if they aren’t the plans that He has in mind. Surrendering means losing sight of all that you want and replacing it with all that He wants, becoming a vessel for Him to work in and through to bring to pass unforeseeable things in your life and the lives of others. The more we seek to understand the ways in which God pours His favor upon our lives when we surrender to Him, the more we will start to see little fabulous things show up and surprise us in ways we least expect. When we try to maintain control and hold onto all the desires we have in our lives, we are likely missing out on the best parts of life that God can give to us.

Break Free and Go With God

Surrendering means letting God guide our lives and choosing to follow Him wherever He leads us and to do whatever He tells us. We must come to the end of ourselves, cut loose the safety line that tether us to the shore, and begin to sail to destinations where only God can take us, knowing that He is good and that where He is taking us is better than anywhere we could go on our own. Are you willing to go there with God?

Endnotes:

[1] Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 90.

[2] Charles R. Swindoll, Jesus: The Greatest Life of All (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008), 100.

About the author

Jerry Wierwille

  • Verdugo

    Wow
    That gave me food for thought

  • Verdugo

    Questions Jerry
    It’s a new thought process for me.
    Can you give me scripture or Old Testament examples
    I do find myself feeling like God is unhappy with me when I can’t figure it all out and others seem to.

    • Jerry Wierwille

      Sure. The biblical text for the article is Psalm 37:7, which is quoted at the beginning. But also a great case study along the lines of this subject is the story of Job in the OT. About the feelings you get when you can’t figure everything out, this is the challenge we all face. We all want to have perfect understanding of what is going on in our lives. But Scripture says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5- ESV). Surrendering is about releasing your desire to have all the answers and instead trusting in and leaning on the one who does. I hope this helps. God’s blessings to you.

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