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The Surrendered Life:
The Christian’s Gift to Our Heavenly Father

Part 3. Developing a Passion to Become Like Jesus

         I learned that our Master’s passion was to do the will of His Father. He said, “I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30). Increasingly it became obvious to me that if I wanted to be like Jesus, my passion must also be to do the will of my Father. But now I was coming to the hard part: having the Lord tell me what He wanted me to do was one thing; doing His will was another.

         Here my weakened carnal nature pushed boldly to the front. I’m tired. That’s not the way I look at it. If I get involved, I’ll live to regret it. I’m brain-weary and need to just vegetate. I don’t feel called to represent You like that today. Why me?

         Obviously, if I’m talking to the Lord like this, I’m not really ready to do His will. I’m back acting like a 50% Christian, that is, taking from His hand but not giving to Him. I’ve surrendered only a part of me, not all of me.

         To place myself regularly in a fully submissive relationship with my heavenly Father has personally been a slow and fitful process. Then developing the level of dedication to Him to carry out His will has been the work of a lifetime.

Engaging in High Spiritual Worship 

         Gradually over months and months I turned more and more parts of my life over to the great I AM. That is, I went to the throne of grace for help in time of need and in times when I didn’t have a need. I went there because I wanted more than anything else to be like Jesus and that is where He is.

         In Romans 12:1, 2 Paul uses the words “sacrifice” and “holy” as he urges me to engage in high spiritual worship. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” He also urges me to allow God to renew my mind: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Paul’s appeal spoke to me about the will of God, sacrifice, and holiness–just the aspects of the Christian life I had been learning about.

         Following these urgings of Paul, I had begun over the years to practice devoting my physical self and my thoughts to God as a reasonable service. I was learning how to crucify self by using my power of choice to surrender, not to cling to self. As a result–praise God–my carnal nature was growing weaker. I was daily accepting His grace and power to choose and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12, 13).

I Had Not Completed My Work of Dedication

         As a lifelong Christian I had regularly asked for forgiveness, but I didn’t have the picture in my mind of dedicating my “heart” to the Lord. In my new journey I learned that my mind still did not bring every thought into captivity to Christ. There were rotten spaces in my inner self that kept generating un-Christlike images and thoughts. As the Holy Spirit, like a dentist, found decay, I submitted to the drill that would remove the mental cavities. I cooperated with Him and invited Him to heal and purify that space. And I invited Him to abide there.

         There’s something more here than gaining victory over sin. As we look back over our Christian walk, we can praise God for the victories He has given us. Sins that threatened to choke us are gone. He has guarded our way so we don’t succumb to further temptation and fall into that sin again. Now for every victory over a known sin, there is a space for God to come in. Making space for God is true holiness. As I consciously made space in my heart for God, my heart became more and more holy, for “holy” means “dedicated.” In this way I could become more and more like Jesus.

         One day I read that Christ asks for unreserved consecration and undivided service; that self is not to be cherished; and that the believer who lives to himself is not a Christian. That was quite an eye-opener! I thought I had dedicated all to Christ, but these words startled me. Could they be true? Did they apply to me? In fact, I had not completed my work of dedication. My focus had been on my sins, my weaknesses, and my self-occupation. What else was there as I continued to respond to the high call of God in Christ Jesus?

         My life consisted of more than what was wrong. Of course it did! I had not considered having little private services of reconsecration in which I would place on the altar of sacrifice what was good and right: my talents, my time, my family relationships. To my surprise I had never specifically relinquished these to the Lord’s will.

Still Room for Full Devotion       

         As I surveyed the sources of my success and joy in my walk with Jesus, a whole new firmament of my life opened up. For example, I was deeply attached to the little efficiencies that helped my days run smoothly. These were important to me, very important. Without them I would appear to others to be a bumbling failure! They were not to be touched!

         Not to be touched? Was that the talk of surrender? Was it possible that I cherished the ways I managed my life more than I cherished Christ? Would I be extremely distressed if God called for me to place under His complete control the personal operating system that I had created to govern my pattern of every-day life?

         I’ve always been an active Christian. My parents were ideal role models. I accepted God’s call to the ministry at about age 18. As a minister it was my business to develop a broad and deep Christian experience. To my knowledge, now past three score years and ten, I was in tune with God. But was there still room for full devotion to my Master? This illumination both shocked me and intrigued me. I could still grow to become more like Jesus! There was still more of me to surrender to His loving guidance!

         Now I asked myself, What about the wholesome, Christlike places in my heart? Well! They were to be set apart for His use as well! I certainly had been overjoyed to give up all those rotten spaces to God, but was I overjoyed at the thought of having Him take control of what was good and satisfying there–His very gifts? Frankly, I was not!

         It took a while for me to accept the concept that giving everything good and wonderful and useful in my life back to Him was a part of total dedication, total sacrifice, total devotion to My beloved Master. But just thinking of letting go, relinquishing, was frightening. I stumbled over it. All the comforts and little joys of life–my bed, my easy chair, my air conditioned comfort–would He take them and not return them.  Go to Part 4