Surrendering Your Way to Freedom

By Keith Miller | September 21, 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.)

Two weeks ago I responded to the first of the above two questions. The second one is my subject this week. Following are three of the changes that have made dealing with my ordinary life a much better experience (less frantic, overloaded and conflicted).

1. Loss of fear of being thought naïve intellectually for telling people about my attempt to surrender to Jesus’ Father God: At first I didn’t tell anyone about deciding to surrender my whole life to God because even most of my friends at church and a number of ordained ministers I know seemed to believe that it was embarrassing when someone came around who unashamedly loved Jesus and had said he or she had surrendered their lives to Him. It was as if such a person had deserted his or her intellect somehow. But when I finally realized that nothing in my graduate degrees in either Psychology or Theology had been as intellectually challenging or faith producing as simply trusting God, I realized that I was somehow on more solid ground intellectually then I had been when I had worn my real “faith suit” (my real commitment) only around like-minded Christian.

Douglas Steere, while writing about Thomas à Kempis’ book, Imitation of Christ, described my experience when he said,

“Faith is not as it has been so often depicted, an act of intellectual mutilation, but it is rather one of inward abandonment to a course of life that in advance accepts willingly the consequences regardless of what they may turn out to be.” (Imitation of Christ, p. 25).

2. The dissolving of life-long specific fears: I have always felt drained by different kinds of fear, of financial loss, loss of love, etc. But as I began to learn to listen to people so I could find out how I might love them specifically, a strange and totally unexpected thing happened.

One day at a hospital where I’d been taken because of an injury, I was waiting for the surgeon to sew up my arm and upper thigh, which had been ripped open when a neighbor’s dog attacked me. I thought about the fact that if I hadn’t known to give the dog a karate chop across the nose, he might have gotten to my throat and killed me. But as I lay there waiting in the emergency room, thanking God and reassuring my neighbor that I wasn’t going to sue him, I realized that I hadn’t been afraid for a long time.

I recalled that the apostle John had concluded his comments about fear by saying that mature love casts out fear—amazing! I’d always prayed for courage to cast out fear only to discover this late in life that when I am living a life of loving and caring about each person in my small adventure during my ordinary days and nights, loving can take away the fears of financial loss, injury and even death. In the fifth Beatitude Jesus points to how this works when he said, “You’re blessed when you are care-full (full of caring), because then you feel cared for.” And that is becoming true for me. I feel that whatever we have or lose, we will somehow be able to (with God’s help) carve a life of love out of it.

3. New attitude about trying to buy security: At times the temptation has come up to do or buy something that would meet my exaggerated needs for financial security, or for sexual assurance from a woman, or to try to claim or imply that I’m a lot more than I am so I’ll feel more secure. It used to be that I might spend a lot of time fantasizing about and then buying things that would hide my self-centered insecurities. I see now that these fantasies and purchases were ways of not trusting God and of taking control of my “image” by acquiring material possessions to prove that “I am enough.”

With my decision to surrender more completely, my perception changed almost immediately. And when my old unreal habits of thinking came up, I began to realize the ridiculous nature of my temptation to purchase. I try to confess, “I need a Mercedes Benz like I need to be fifteen feet tall! Forgive me for my grandiosity!” Then I say to God, “I offer my whole life to you. Please help me to see your will.” Now every morning when the alarm goes off, I say the following prayer:

“Lord, I offer my entire life to you to build with me and do with me as you will. Take away my bondage to self so that I can better do your will. Overcome my difficulties so that victory over them will bear witness to those I would help of thy powers, thy love and thy way of life. Help me always to do thy will, in Jesus’ name, Amen.” (Bill Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous)

All this may be more than you asked, but history records some brilliant and courageous people who have wrestled with the same self-protecting demons that capture our lives, demons that can, it seems, be exorcised only by putting our lives in the hands of a power greater than that of our “most trusted passions” and the irrational temptations that would drag us back into them.

Thank you Lord that you don’t ask us to figure you out, but offer to come into our personal experiences and show us in the drama of our own lives the truth about your offer of love and freedom. Help me not to get too discouraged because I can’t express the depth of happiness, love and purposes you bring with you as you house-clean and guide your children to come be more like your Son. Amen.

Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them…. All they want is easy street…But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

Selected from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, 3:15, The Message

Topics: Christian Living, Weekly Devotional | Comments Off on Surrendering Your Way to Freedom
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