Every hero of the faith has had to make an ultimate choice to trust God with everything. They had to be willing to risk it all—their dreams, their fortune, their health, their reputation, their very life.
- Daniel’s refusal to bow.
- Abigail falling to her face before David.
- Mary accepting the words of Gabriel.
- Noah preparing the wood for an ark.
- Elisabeth Elliot staying in the jungle with her toddler.
- Ruth laying at Boaz’s feet.
- Gladys Aylward riding that Siberian train alone.
- Stella Cooper flying to Cuba without the money for a return ticket.
- Moses returning to his adoptive home with a divine command.
- George Mueller taking in that first orphan.
- David Wilkerson standing up in that NYC courtroom.
I could go on for days. The Lord has given us many examples to follow. Each one chose to trust and surrender. Each of them had to decide if they were truly going to live for God, or not.
Most of us would never count ourselves in the same category as any of the men and women listed above, these giants of the faith. In fact, we may even look at them and be thankful that God would never require of us what He required of them.
Yet, history proves that thinking to be very wrong. The fact is that God absolutely calls us all to live a life of that kind of surrender and faith. It’s not like high school, where only college-bound students had to take a third science or extra-curricular activity. There are no “AP” Christians.
Of course, we all have a different call on our life. We aren’t all meant to serve in China. That point of decision for us may not be a matter of life and death—though it might feel like it. Whatever that thing that God is asking of us, that place of surrender He brought us to, is hard enough. We know it is the course that God has set for us. We know deep down. We may not understand how it’s part of His plan, His perfect will, but we know. And, something keeps us from surrendering. We allow our flesh—our unbelief, fear, pride, something—to crowd out our faith and obedience.
When we resist the call to surrender, something horrible happens. We find ourselves in a place outside of God’s will. We find ourselves in a place of compromise. We are not eternally separated from God, but we have rejected Him. We have disobeyed. We try to convince ourselves that we can reach the same destination by following our own map, but that will not go well for us. How can it go well?
And, some of us are going to blame God, when things go poorly. We are going to accuse Him of not answering prayer, of not providing, of not hearing, of not healing, of not loving. These incidents will each then become a piece of evidence in our secret case against God. Each failure convinces us that we were right to not trust Him with “that other thing.”
I’m sorry to say it, but things will get worse. That place where we have failed to surrender is going to be a constant stumbling block for us. The longer we stay on this course, the sooner we will find ourselves falling into sin. We don’t want to fall into sin. We don’t want to fall away from God. Yet, what else could possibly happen? We’ve chosen to not follow Him, to not trust Him. Our rebellion against His will is compromising our spiritual intimacy with Him. We just cannot obey God in part, you see? But, we will take offense at that biblical truth. In fact, we will find more and more in the Bible with which to take offense, pulling ourselves further and further away from the Lord.
We have not yet lost faith in Christ, but we will become Christians who proclaim Him with their words, but whose actions and reactions deny Him. They will tell the true story.
The days will pass on.
Each time something we imagine should happen doesn’t happen, each time the things we believe God should be doing aren’t done, we will have more evidence in our file—one more charge we raise against God.
As our heart inevitably grows colder, we will become more and more convinced that God cannot be trusted at all.
Our case against Him grows.
It doesn’t have to keep growing, though.
We can repent.
It’s easy to do.
After all, God wants us to be in right standing with Him. The Holy Spirit has not stopped reminding us of our need to surrender, no matter how much we try to ignore Him. Am I right? God helps us obey Him. He’ll even help us make-up lost time.
My mother used to say that there was no more miserable person in the world than the person who had rejected God’s will, ignored His call. It’s a call you can’t unhear, you see? You can only run from it, like Jonah.
Thankfully, God’s mercy is constant and follows us, just as it followed Jonah. He pursues us, reminding us of His call.
“Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have rejected me and cast me away. How shall I ever again see your holy Temple?’ I sank beneath the waves, and death was very near.
“The waters closed above me; the seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains that rise from the ocean floor.
“I was locked out of life and imprisoned in the land of death. But, O Lord my God, you have snatched me from the yawning jaws of death!
“When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. And my earnest prayer went to you in your holy Temple.” Jonah 2:4-7
Jonah knew all along that he was wrong, but it took a hellish experience to bring him to repentance. And, surrender. Reading his story, we see the proof that God does accept us in our worst place of rebellion. And, He DOES help us make up lost time. He does help us accomplish that which He called us to do.
If you can identify with this at all, if you have that secret file of accusations against God that pull out with each disappointment, I pray you will not wait a minute longer to repent and surrender. Sometimes, there are people who refuse. Their flesh is strong from so many years of feeding it and exercising it. They are not easily humbled. We can pray not to be that way. We can pray and ask God to spare us from having to learn the really hard way—like in the depths of the sea and the belly of a great fish. We can ask the Holy Spirit to humble us. We can ask Him to help us repent. To show us how we need to repent. And, we can ask Him to help us obey.
If we wait until we feel like it, until we’re “feeling it,” we’ll be sorry. Repentance and surrender are not acts of our feelings, but of our will. Don’t will yourself into a deeper, darker place. Throw out that case against God. Drop those false charges against Him. Admit your disobedience, and choose obedience now.
God bless you all.