Complete Surrender to God? You Can’t be Serious!

By Keith Miller | September 7, 2009

Keith, you talk a lot about surrendering your life to God. I have two questions: (1) Do you honestly think you can do that? and (2) How do you negotiate the frantic, unexpected overload of sound bites and conflicting demands on your time any better because you’re trying to surrender your life to God? I know this may seem pushy and cynical, but I am sick of religious crap and am just wondering how much you are saying is real for you and how much is phony? (I have other questions but they depend on your answer to the first one.)

Good questions. Your questions remind me of the man many years ago who was sent to investigate me for heresy. I’ve wrestled a lot with both of these questions. Sounds like you’re a serious player.

Question number one is easy, and the answer gets at the heart of my own spiritual journey. Sometimes I hate to write these pieces every week because I can see so many ways my life is far from “totally surrendered to God.” But at another level, this attempt at total surrender has been the doorway to the life I got three degrees and helped build a business looking for—but never found.

I’ve come to believe two things about “being totally surrendered to God.” First, since Freud’s postulation of the unconscious, most thinking people believe that much more than half of the content stored in our minds is not even accessible to us—memories, painful facts, sins, resentments and experiences of all sorts hide from us when we try to call them back, etc. If the “unconscious” is a real phenomenon, then if I did surrender all of my life I can see to God, two-thirds of my life might not be committed at all. And the next morning after the “surrender,” a long-buried lust or lie or memory of hurting or cheating someone (or someone hurting me), or a scheme to get even, may jump into my mind full blown along with attached unsurrendered feelings of anger, guilt, resentment or lust—none of which were conscious to me when I surrendered my life. In other words, I don’t believe we even have access to most of our past experiences when we consciously surrender our lives to God.

A common example of this not being able to access material in our own minds happens to students all the time. Let’s say that you prepare thoroughly for an examination in school. During the exam, you come to a question that you studied for and had the answer down pat the night before. But though passing the test is very important, you cannot remember the answer. Finally the bell rings, and you have to turn in your exam. Then, walking down the hall two minutes later, the answer appears “out of nowhere.” There are many other examples of not being able to access information in our own minds.

Since every life contains some sins, guilt, selfish attitudes and lusts that are not ever conscious when we decide to “surrender our whole lives to God,” I believed that all I could do was to decide, “Do I really want to surrender my entire present, past and future to God?” And I make that surrender.

With that decision (for me) came the realization that the journey to wholeness in Christ is largely a matter of being willing to face the unsurrendered areas of my life and surrender them when they appear—though I may have been in denial about them for years.

But by trying to live my entire sleeping, eating, working, playing life for God, I have seen things that have been hurting my closest relationships for years that I might never have owned. And as a Christian I have steps to take to surrender them. (Confession, making amends, etc.)

So when I finally surrendered, I gave God permission to help me see unsurrendered acts, thoughts and character problems Only then could I confess them, make amends when necessary, and ask God to help me not to wander in areas of my life where I might repeat those acts and patterns of thought that put me in the hidden “control seat” of my life instead of God.

There were a couple of areas which seemed to be so important to my inner security and comfort that I didn’t in any serious way consider surrendering to God to the extent that I could say “I will trust you for the amount and/or fulfillment in these two areas and I will do your will even if it means giving up my financial security and my sex life in order to be the loving and non-manipulative man you created me to be. And I am willing to trust you to guide me in working out how to deal with these as well as every other area of my life.

When somehow I made that surrender to God, the surprise was that intuitively I knew my life would never be the same. My perception of my whole life and all my close relationships came into focus in a different way. And at the same time I realized that I had never really trusted God with my life before—though I’d said the words of surrender. But as a sub-conscious level I knew that I was not going to surrender my sex life nor my financial security to God. And although I was not doing anything dishonest or immoral about getting sex or financial security—I was uneasy about the suspicion that my spiritual growth was going to stop if I didn’t finally offer these things to God.

And finally making that that decision and surrendering everything to God led me to discover the answers to your second question: “How do you negotiate the terrific overload of your life any better because of having surrendered?” (I’ll write about that here next week.)

Writing about the real dynamics of what goes on in the lonely silence behind our “adequate faces” may seem irrelevant or even not Christian to some of you. But at this stage of my life, I am sick of my own unreality and failure to risk rejection in order to share as honestly as I can what is true for me about living and loving for God. And the truth about “surrender” for me is that, as scary as it was the first time, the willingness to take that step each morning is making me feel at home in my own skin—and at our house.

“Lord, help me not to try to run other people’s lives as I am learning so late to trust you and walk peacefully and with you and other people with an open heart to love your hurting lonely people —even those who discount us. I do love the people you have introduced me to in the past. And I am sad when I think that my attempt to surrender to you as something that will cause them to back off and find more sane and reasonable friends. But I know that the beautiful, sinful, and trapped new people being freed to whom you have introduced Andrea and me—the tribe of those who will not, cannot, stay locked inside with their fears and dishonesty, people who want to risk going with you on your scary creative adventure of turning loose, and perhaps walking together with us into the future.” Amen.

“Surrender is the stage of “final satisfaction” because we discover in that moment of surrender that the God who seeks us is also the God we seek; that in being found of God we find God in the only way God can be found; that in being thus defeated we are in the only possible way victorious.”

John Knox, Limits of Unbelief

Is surrender ‘going overboard’ on our faith if we want to be great human beings? Alfred North Whitehead said, “…a certain excessiveness seems necessary in all greatness. In some direction or other we must devote ourselves beyond what would be warranted by the analysis of pure reason.”  Alfred North Whitehead, The Adventure of Ideas

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you. Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going to work and walking around life—and place it before God as an offering.”

Paul’s letter to the Romans 2:1, THE MESSAGE

Topics: Christian Living, Weekly Devotional | Comments Off on Complete Surrender to God? You Can’t be Serious!
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