“All to Jesus”
Luke 9:23-25 (New International Version)
23Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
In my younger years, I was so uneasy about singing a hymn like, “I Surrender All” or sitting through a missions presentation. I was quite sure that if I ever did “surrender all” God would take everything I had and send me to live with a tribe of cannibals where I would sacrificially lay down my life as I proclaimed the Word of God with my last breath. So while speaking of surrender, I held tightly to the treasures of my life. I really thought, by some stretch of my imagination, that I was in control.
It has taken quite a few “rounds” in the arena of life to understand that this is simply not the case. You see, God really did take everything I had, although some of it He has pried out of clenched fists. He started with my pride and proceeded from there. He took my financial security, my dreams, my hopes, my friends, my marriage, and my children.
From an earthly viewpoint, everything seems pretty much intact and no one has died, but these things have, along with the rest of my life, become a living sacrifice. As Romans 12:1 says, “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.”
If the truth was told, He has always been in control; I just didn’t know it. When I gave Him possession of my life as I trusted Him for salvation, His Spirit took up residence in my spirit, and I am compelled to allow Him control. According to the dictionary, surrender is “to relinquish possession or control of to another because of demand or compulsion.” (1) Although surrendering control is not demanded, it is a “holy compulsion” as we realize our inability to manipulate our circumstances or modify our outcomes.
It often did not occur to me that the Lord was working for my benefit because my comfort was not His goal, but my character. Not my happiness, but my holiness. What feels like death to me, is in reality new life. Self must die if we are to ever truly hide our lives in His. Colossians 3:2-3 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (NIV)
Somewhere along the way, realizing both the sovereignty and gentle kindness of my God, I no longer feared laying my life in His tender, capable hands. His management of my life became a welcome end to my own insecurity and lack of power to determine my own steps and direct my own course.
Each new challenge is really an opportunity to decide once more that in His incomprehensible love, He can be trusted to accomplish His will for my life. Now, I am less terrified of cannibals and more afraid of my own reckless bid for sovereignty in my life.
One day, if I end up on the other side of the world, my home some carnivorous colony, maybe I will try to introduce some new food groups. Maybe some fruits or vegetables, or better yet chocolate chip cookies! One way or another, I am sure to be safe in the skillful hands of my most dependable God. Gladly, I surrender all.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (NIV)
1. "surrender." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 20 Oct. 2006.
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