Sunday, May 12, 2013

Laying Down Our Will

Hello!  This post is all about surrendering our will and letting God's will fill us instead.  I will be taking some excerpts from Set-Apart Femininity (find it above in the "books" link) and of course, the Bible.  

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word surrender is a jar that's empty.  I don't know why it's such a random thing, but to me, a jar demonstrates surrendering will.  I kind of think of us being the jar and then God comes and fills it.  Well, let's jump in.  I might have to make this a two-part post – we'll see.

It seems to me that surrender is a word that is generally looked down upon.  White flag, cowardice, chicken, tail between your legs... you get the point.  Our society has turned it into something bad.  And yes, sometimes it is.  I think there are two kinds of surrender though.  The one is laying down your will, and the other is the result of fear (not the fear of God).  The former is what Jesus demonstrated so poignantly on the cross.  He was willing to give up His life, His self, for the will of His Father.  That is surrender in its purest form.  Now let's take a minute and look at several verses from the Bible in regard to surrender.  (all verses NIV)

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." – Luke 9:23 (emphasis added)

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." – 2 Corinthians 5:15 (emphasis added)

From these verses, we hear a very different perspective on surrender.  To follow Christ, we must deny self.  We do this because of what Christ did for us.  Now we begin to see that surrendering is more of an act of thankfulness, a sacrifice to God because of what Christ did for us.  Suddenly, it doesn't sound so bad.

From Set-Apart Femininity:

"The secret to becoming the radiant, beautiful, alluring, lily-white princess of childhood dreams is forgetting all about self and becoming completely consumed with only one thing – Jesus Christ."

"The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus Christ,
and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of 
you – your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your
money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your 
sacrifice, or your anything – then although you may have the
Christian life, you are not yet living it."

– Ian Thomas

This is what surrendering is.  Allowing God to come in and become Lord of our life.  To give Him the honor and glory for what He has done through us and what He has done for us.  We must view it all in terms of Him.  I was talking with my cousin recently and he mentioned the fact that he had come to the realization that he needed to make Christ Lord of his life and not just Savior.  Christ did come to save us, but He didn't mean for that to be the end.  He wants to come in and dwell in us, strengthening and empowering us to be so empty of ourselves that all that comes out is God.

Now that we know what surrender is, let's delve into the nitty-gritty and see what this really means for our lives.

Our goal is to completely forget about ourself.  Forget everything about us.  Then, and only then will God be able to come in and work in our lives to be glorified through us.  H. Bonar, a dynamic Christian leader in Spurgeon's day said the following:
"Look away from self to Christ."
-H. Bonar 

This is the epitome of total surrender.  Being so focused on Christ that self eventually falls away.  I think this is the difference between the day of Spurgeon and our present day.  Too many Christians have forgotten what surrender is.  Have you ever read a story of horrendous persecution to Christians and wondered how they go to their deaths singing to God?  Have you ever wondered how missionaries like Amy Carmichael and Gladys Aylward managed a house full of orphans or lead a band of children on a treacherous journey over mountains all while maintaining a peace and a joy and a passion that we so often lose whenever we're the least stressed out?  It is because their lives are not their own.  They emptied themselves of their will and God replaced it with something far more powerful, more world-altering than they could have ever been on their own.   

From Set-Apart Femininity:

"We are meant to let all thoughts of self become swallowed up in Him." (pg. 48)

Galatians 2: 20 says:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

And so we see why we must surrender our lives to God.  He gave His life for us, and we must give Him ours.  We must allow Him to come in and inhabit us so that we become nothing.  Like the jars at the wedding of Cana, we must allow God to empty us and then fill us up with Himself so that we can become a living sacrifice, a testimony of His power and glory.  

We glorify God when we surrender.  We are a testimony to Him.  We point to Him like the wine at Cana.  When we are fully surrendered and in love with our King, others can't help but see Him through us.

From Set-Apart Femininity:

"Personally, I never saw stunning feminine beauty until I encountered women who were completely unaware of self and completely consumed with their precious King."

And that beauty glorifies God.  Think of the joy He must receive from looking down from heaven and seeing His children pouring out their lives before Him like an offering.  Giving up their own desires and begging Him to fill them up with His will and His plans.  Our mission is to serve God and to bring pleasure to His name.  May He rejoice in His children as we strive to look away from themselves to Christ.  

The rest of this month, I'll be talking more on a surrendered life and what that means regarding our walk with God and our actions.  

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day.  Your mother is a live example of surrender – make certain she knows you appreciate it.  And those of you for whom Mother's Day is a sad holiday, make sure your heavenly father knows you appreciate what He did when He surrendered His Son for you.  
xo, Ella