Saturday, February 11, 2012

To Surrender

"I don't want to go to the INCH conference!" I whined out sulkily to my patient parent. I knew I was being rude and disagreeable, and I did truly want to go-but I didn't want to miss my friend's Nutcracker performance during the second day of the conference, and I was simply giving mother a hard time. After several more grumpy and cross words, I tumbled into my bed, upset and angry. The next day-the day of the INCH conference itself-would be an absolute failure, I had decided.
That is a small taste of me. Or what I used to be. I was the definition of "nominal Christian." Unfortunately...I was built from the exact blueprint of the modern "Christian" teenager, believe it or not. There were few things in my life that I actually deemed wrong-modern Christian messages said it was okay to listen to non-Christian music, flirt, waste time on the TV and internet, and many other seemingly "harmless" things. That is the person that went into the doors of the Lansing Center for the INCH conference that day-but a different person came out. Not a widely different person, no outward major changes had occurred. But inwardly, something had altered. It was to alter even more over the next few months-but this was a start. That night, on May 20th, 2011, I sat outside on my front porch and did something that I had never done before-I put down one of the parts of my life at God's feet. And I have continued to do so since-piece by piece. (And I did get to attend the Nutcracker performance.) The next month I was more radient than I have ever been, "radient with the joy of the Lord."
I can't give this story without being honest-I developed a "crush" on someone I met at my summer camp. It let nowhere, and although I attempted to give my feelings over to God, slowly but surely it drew me away. And after only a month, I was unfortunately not far from where I had started. Disheartened, I worked my way back-slowly this time, due to the added weight of school and activities beginning again. For some reason, I couldn't seem to attain that unhindered relationship again for almost two months. Then, I pulled out some of the notebooks that I had used before-and as I opened one little green one, it hit me. With a start, I remembered what I had forgotten, the key to my relationship with Christ: surrender.
Surrender is absolutely crucial to the Christian life. It is the invitation to Jesus to come inside and take control, and to hand over to Him pieces of your life with shaking hands and crying out for Him to take it and use it as He wills, not as you will. It is the kicking out of the flesh and the refusal to let it back inside. It is the abandoning of self for Christ, of flesh for the spirit. And once you find it, TRULY find it, you can never go back-for your life is completely altered, forever changed. When you truly see the power of Jesus, you can never go back.
It is all about the cross. When you see the power, when you see the love, when you see the sacrifice, when you see the grace, the truth, the perfection, and the breaking of the chains you can no longer bear yourself and your sins, you fall on your face in tears and say "I need you, Lord! And I give you all of myself, every little piece of it!" When you see that the almighty God of everything who made everything and who is over everything, who is enthroned in majesty and all the angels worship before him, and you see that He came down as a little baby born to an unmarried teenage girl in a tiny town-and that He died a horrible death on a bloody cross so that you could be free, and when you see that you are not living free from sin in spite of that sacrifice you can no longer stand before God-and you offer yourself and say "Everything I have is yours Lord! Take me! Use me for Your glory!" And that's when true fulfillment and joy and hope and radiance-pure radiance-is found, when you give your life to Him and say that it is no longer yours. And you fall at His feet, totally knowing that you do not deserve what was done for you, He looks you in the eyes and says "I do not condemn you. Now go, and sin no more." And then the only thing you can do is turn around and thank Him wash His feet with your tears and then go out and serve Him and proclaim the most important thing in history, in the world, in our loves-the cross.
I might just say, if you didn't read that as a rant-go back and read it as so.
May I now say that I am not a perfect being in my spiritual life. I am not yet free from sin. But I am working for it, on the platform of prayer and the study of His word and His character. I am gaining eternal life and glory-at the expense of simply me. And I am not much, I'll tell you that. But His grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)