His Without Reserve
Christian Life
Logo

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

Part 4. Relinquishment: One Small Step at a Time

         I spoke of reading that self is not to be cherished, that a true Christian cannot serve both self and Christ. The idea that I might be trying to serve both myself and Christ in any way struck me like a blow on the back of the head. At the same time it excited my desire for a completely dedicated life, a life like Jesus’ life, devoted to God without reservation. In my personal life what was the self I was still living for? What did I possess or keep in reserve? What was there that was mine but not Christ’s? Must I really empty myself, as Christ did, in order to have the fullness of His character?

         Before I tell you more about this frightening challenge of self-denial, of taking up your cross, of leaving father and mother and so on, I must assure you in advance that these acts of devotion, these sacrifices, all take place within the sacred precincts of the soul. They are prayers offered. They are choices made. They consist of full readiness to relinquish if called upon to do so.

         Second, all your godly life-treasures that you relinquish to God in self-denial are not lost. They are glorified and augmented. Listen to Paul in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Did you catch the word “riches”? The gifts of God are rich in providing for our joy, our security, our welfare, our contentment and our comfort. But I began to see that if I cherish my self-created joy, security, welfare, contentment, and comfort more than I cherish Christ, I have lost both!

         Finally, taking a deep breath, I began to use my inner thoughts, my self-talk, to consciously dedicate the good, satisfying things in my life to God. How did I do this? Instead of saying, “I surrender all,” I focused my mind on a single item. If it was an activity I especially enjoyed, like riding my 18-speed bicycle through nearby parklands, I imagined rolling it toward Jesus and turning it over to Him. This was not a spiritual parlor game. Although imagined, it was real to me. Loss and grief crept into my throat. Momentarily I felt the good-by. But I went ahead. I gave my bicycle fully as though it would never be within the will of God for me to ride a bike again.

         I made these single dedications with intense honesty. My objective was to empty myself for His sake just as He emptied Himself for my sake (Philippine 2:7). My desire to develop a character like Christ’s would have no value if I held back a treasured habit, a special “blanket,” such as a child has at bedtime.

Even My Talents and Skills?

         From time to time, over a year or two, I came into my Lord’s presence with another personal gift. “Lord, here’s my car. If it will bring glory to you or if I care for my car more than I care about You, take it. My pleasure with it must not exceed my pleasure in You. Even the skills you have given me. Take them if it is your will. Take them if they make me proud. Take them if they are more important to me than seeing the needs of others, as You do.”

         I like to be comfortable. I relinquished personal comfort to the Lord. I like to be financially secure. I relinquished my dollars to the Lord. I like to be loved. I relinquished that to the Lord. Day by day I scanned my life for the joys and beauties and comforts that God has given me. I thought of my son and daughter and my five wonderful grandsons.

         I thought of how I enjoy living where there are trees and birds, rather than in a land of sand and snakes. I thought of snow and sledding, of mountain vistas and lakes with loons. I thought of a soft bed and warm slippers. I thought of air conditioning. I thought of my education, my knowledge, my skills. “Take them, Lord, if it is your will. These precious, essential things are in Your hands. They are fully under your control, even to the point of loss.”

         It was scary, to say the least. What if He did, in fact, take any one of these things and did not return it? What if He took the heart out of my life, and left me to shrivel up? Then I remembered that word in Paul’s epistles: “riches.”

         It was a huge challenge for me to carry to the altar of sacrifice my way of life, my conveniences one by one, my comforts, my successes. Yet I knew, on the foundation of God’s promises, that if He chose to remove a talent, a tool of life, or even security and comfort, He would replace it with a higher good. Now my passion became not only to do the will of God but to have Him do His will within and for me. Now my passion was to lay claim to the higher good. This experience, this practice, this frame of mind, I understood clearly, was the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

         By faith I know now that to draw back from full surrender is to say that while I want to partner with God in life, I insist on being the senior partner. I realize that to fear loss is not faith. If I choose not to surrender the totality of my favorite things, I do not really know the One who created me and loves me dearly. I realize that to shrink from carrying out the will of God in my life is to deprive myself of the incomprehensible joys of fellowship with the divine here and now. It is to refuse to become a partaker of the divine nature.

         Surrendering all–evil and good–is my gift to my heavenly Father. To go forward in faith is to be a partaker of the divine nature. It is to become more and more like Jesus, who for my sake became like me.