Wednesday, April 14, 2010

R12: Why is it so hard to surrender to God?

Surrender. Raise the white flag. Give up. Quit. Loser.

Surrender is a difficult concept to spiritually grasp. Our world-system paints the word in such a negative light that it is hard to find anything positive through it. But that is only because we don't understand what surrender means. The last chapter talked about the sacrifice of our very will in order to realize God's good, perfect and pleasing will. But sacrifice is only one aspect of holy surrender. Chapter two talks about another piece- risk versus reward.

Chip uses case studies from the book, Risk, Reason and the Decision Making Process. If you don't have LOTE: The Book, don't worry, Chip uses the same illustrations in his mp3 lesson. His case studies are basically modern versions of the parables Jesus gives in Matthew 13. Let's look and reflect on these for a moment.

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." (Matthew 13:44-46)

Do you feel sorry for either of these people? After all, they had to sell everything they had to get the treasure they were looking for. In the second case, the person would end up with nothing other than a pearl. Sure, he could "flip" the pearl and earn great wealth, but what in the meantime? And it's safe to assume he already had great wealth because he was a merchant of pearls. Can you imagine the conversation he must have had with his wife?

"Honey, you wouldn't believe the pearl I found today!"

"That's great dear."

"But we can't afford it with the money we have. So I sold the house, our livestock, and all the other pearls in my collection (even the ones I gave you for our anniversary)."

"You did what?!"

He would had to have been pretty bold to pull off such a move. The same goes for the first man. What if he returned and the treasure was gone? What if the owner of the field wouldn't sell? In both cases, what if these men were wrong? What if the pearl was a fake? What if the treasure was really worthless? They had to conclude that the reward outweighed the risk.

Were these men lucky? Extra holy? In better with God than their neighbors? Not at all. Chip rightly points out in his book that these men were wise. This was a revelation for me. I never considered these parables in this light. Surrendering in such a way isn't about holiness or piety, about luck or any special blessing. They knew what they found. They evaluated the reward, considered the risk, and acted in wisdom.

We are tempted to think that spiritual surrender is a standard for only the most holy, the most committed of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe we believe it is only for pastors, priests, or ministers. We could also believe that such a level of commitment is impossible for us. But we only need to be wise. Consider the risk. What do we lose by following God whole-heartedly? Our own selfish desires, success as defined by the world, acceptance by friends and family? But what do we gain? "Every spiritual blessing." (Ephesians 1:3) Our desires "satisfie[d]... with every good thing." (Psalm 103:5) And of course a saving relationship with the Creator of the universe, the forgiveness of our sins, healing of the damage done, and even "treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:20) where we have hope for eternal life.

So you need to ask yourself. Is the risk worth the reward? If so, surrender.

Think: What do you take away from this lesson?
Reflect: Is how I described surrender the same as you've come to understand it personally?
Understand: How does considering the above parables as actions of wisdom change your perspective on surrender?
Surrender: What do you risk by surrendering to God? List it out. Pray over it. Be honest with God about how you feel.
Take action: Write out the following definition (from the book) of total commitment on a 3x5 and read it every night before going to bed: "When I come to realize what God has done for me, who He is, and what He has prepared for me in this new life (that I cannot see), I eagerly abandon anything and everything to obtain this fabulous, rich, rewarding eternal life He is offering."
Motivation: What would God need to do to convince you he has the best in store for your life? (Read Romans 8:32, Psalm 37:4)
Encourage someone: Call, text, email, tweet, etc the most committed Christian you know and thank them for their example.

Today continues our "virtual small group" covering the book Living On The Edge. For how this group is going to work, read this entry. For an introduction with disclaimers, click here. For some numbers from Barna to motivate you to continue reading, go here. For the R12 videos, click the R12 button on the sidebar to the right. Finally, as we move forward through the book you can always catch up by clicking the R12 label at the end of each post.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I really appreciated and understood this post and I agree, I need more faith from God to totally surrender my will and my desires to His purpose for my life... When I struggle I forget that it is Jesus struggling and suffering over and over again within me, and this is my new life, so I pray to Yahweh to just hang in there and to lean not on my own understanding but every word that comes from Him... Yahweh be praised........ Hallelujah :)

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Exactly what I needed at this time. Thank you for allowing God to use you to reach people like me. You ARE making a difference. God bless you!! And just because people don't leave a comment, it does not mean that they are not reading and being changed :)

Fatha Frank said...

Thank you both for your comments. I dont' know when you came by to leave them, but I'm guessing fairly recently. I changed my settings to notify me when posts burried in the archives have comments, so I'm sorry for not responding. I encourage you both to explore the site, especially the R12 and Crazy Love tags. God bless you both on your walk with Christ.

Gan Eden said...


Fatha Frank said...

Thank you for your comment, Gan. I hope you take some time to read some more site content before you label me a typical happy go lucky Christian who doesn't give a poop for his fellow man.

As for "how" well the problem with organized religion as a whole is that it tries to make spirituality measurable: church attendance, how much you give, how many visitors you bring. So those metrics become the artificial "how" to take up your cross daily. But the reality is, God judges the heart. So "how to surrender" is simply the attitude that following Christ is more important than following yourself. There is no one thing to do, or list of steps to take. It is an attitude that spills over into every facet of your life. So ask yourself, when you make a decision do you stop and think whether it would glorify God or whether it is best for you? How you answer that defines whether you have surrendered or not.

Anonymous said...

"So ask yourself, when you make a decision do you stop and think whether it would glorify God or whether it is best for you?"

I like what you have said and realize that this is something I need to start doing in my decision making process. As I thought about this it came to me - we know we are surrendered when they are one and the same, when what we sincerely want is what will bring glory to God.