I’ve been reading (or listening to) the book What if it’s True? by Charles Martin. As the master storyteller he is, he weaves Scripture with storytelling and parts of his own testimony to focus on who Christ is, His sacrifice for us, and our response to Him. Some of the book is intense.
One of Mr. Martin’s analogies refers to the time of Abraham when God instructed Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, on the altar. He links this event to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and he talks about what it means to take up our cross daily to follow Christ. Mr. Martin makes the statement, “You can’t carry the cross if you are holding onto your Isaac.” In this statement ‘Isaac’ represents all the things, and ideas, and rights, and loves that we cling to in lieu of clinging to God.
For some of us, our Isaac may be a person or a thing or a job or an account. For others, Isaac may be an attitude that we hold onto. It may even be a hurt for which we want justice.
While my explanation here is brief – you really need to read the book – I offer it to get at the concept of surrender.
Our busy days are filled with so many activities. Minds flit between work and home and pleasure. Thoughts, like ping pong balls, ricochet, barely slowing enough to register. We are constantly listening to and participating in noise – the TV, the radio, streaming podcasts, audio books, conversations – you name it. While none of these things is innately bad, we seldom take the time to quietly come before God in His Word to allow Him to deal with our attitudes that are contrary to His will.
You probably think I am getting off track here, but I am still talking about surrender.
Can you be a Christian and not surrender daily to Christ? For some of us, we have surrendered to Him as Savior, but not as Lord. We have trusted Him for salvation, but we have roadblocked the process of sanctification (growing more like Him) because we continue to hold onto and depend on “our Isaacs”.
This is not easy for me to write; I struggle with daily surrender, too. I struggle with attitudes of pride and reputation. I struggle to let go of control in the outcomes of life. I struggle with satisfying my own desires, my own way, my own intentions. I struggle with demanding my own way.
Have you ever imagined what life would be like if everything important to you was swept away in an instant? Would God still be enough?
Many people in the Florida Panhandle are living this in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Others in Lee County Alabama are picking up pieces of life scattered by a horrific tornado. Is God enough?
Around the world, Christians suffer daily for their belief. They are persecuted; they are demeaned; they are murdered.
Life can be hard. In fact, God told us that we would have trouble in this life. He said we would suffer. He talked about it a lot. Read what He said to His disciples in John 14 -17. These were His last words. They were words of comfort, but they were also realistic in what the disciples would face.
John 16:33 – 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 15:20 – 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
And then the words He gave through Peter –
I Peter 5: 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
If we are looking to accomplish our own purposes and live for our own benefit, these verses are not encouraging. They indicate loss and trial. If we are trying to protect our own lives, we will struggle with these verses.
However, if we are seeking the glory of God, we surrender our will to His will, knowing that we can trust Him.
God knew it would be difficult. He knew we would wrestle with the desires of this flesh. He knew we would get tired. Twice, He instructed Paul to offer these words of encouragement:
Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
II Thessalonians 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
Some things are not easy, but they are important.
And, by the way, God IS enough.
I surrender –
the need to be seen as right;
the need to be understood;
the need to be recognized and remembered;
the need to be sought out.
I surrender –
to do the right thing every day, over and over again, even if no one ever notices.
I surrender, Lord, to You.