I sat quietly at my desk. The room was only half-lit. I was praying, frustrated and melancholic. “How can a person live a completely surrendered life?” The question sprang from a certain amount of accusation that had been circling my heart. I waited. I was seeking wisdom from above and I was not moving until I had something to go on. The answer came, but I have to tell you that this flesh of mine was not at all satisfied.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
I wasn’t really asking how to live a surrendered life as much as how to win, but I didn’t realize that at first, until the Father gave me a gentle rebuke.
My flesh was not satisfied because my flesh has many demands. My ego demands that I win victory on my own so that I can take credit for it. My flesh wants to be in charge, in control of a situation to work things out the way that makes me look good–in charge. My flesh wants to be honored and coddled and attended.
The flesh exerts its will. The devil flings flaming arrows at me to weaken my resolve. The world squeezes, trying to fashion another empty, soulless robot to march according to it cadence. But the Spirit indwells me. He intercedes for me, as does the Son. I feel the conflict within.
Because I live by the Spirit, I want to crush the devil under my feet, cast off the shackles of the world system, and crucify the flesh. The subtle temptation is to try to do so prayerlessly, relying upon my own force of will, so that I might walk into the King’s presence to show him my victory. There is no victory without prayer, there is no victory without the Spirit, there is no victory without surrender.
Surrender is present in both failure and victory. Failure is tantamount to surrendering to the force of the flesh, to the force of the world system, or to the forceful temptation or attack of the devil. Failure (sin) is making friends with the world and living a laissez-faire lifestyle that assumes that it is the only option; the only way to get along. Failure is a surrender of self to someone else’s will, even if it is the “old man” that Paul writes about to the Roman believers.
Victory is a surrender to the will of God. Victory is a surrender of bragging rights, admitting that we are not able to bring a self-won victory into the throne room, not able to boast to God, “Look what I did. Aren’t you impressed?” Victory is approaching the throne of grace, humbly, offering ourselves to God as servants, as sons and daughters, as ones in need of grace.
This kind of victory rightly gives credit where credit is due: it is God who made us, who redeemed us from an empty way of life, who provides for us, who calls us, who empowers us, who gives us everything we need for life and godliness. It is God who makes any victory possible. It is God himself who gave the ultimate sacrifice that we might come to him. It is God who sought us out and offered us a second chance. It is God himself that enables us to stand, in grace.
Surrender begins with submission to God’s wishes. Submission is not a shameful condition. It merely acknowledges God’s rightful place as King of my life. He rules. Surrender then requires resisting the devil. He will flatter and deceive in order to get us to deviate from obedience. Surrender involves the deep desire of the heart, an act of will that accesses grace so that we can draw near. Without an active and accessed grace we cannot draw near to God. Surrender involves reducing our will to a single allegience: God. To purify essentially means to reduce to a single element. One. Not two. Not ten. One. Surrender involves a cessation of laughing at our sin and willful disobedience. Surrender results in the fulfillment of promise.
If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. If we come humbly, He will exalt us. If we lay aside our will in lieu of His, He will give us Victory–victory over sin, victory over death, victory over the world.
Humility is one of our “secret” weapons in shaking the gates of hell–a weapon that the world, the flesh, and the devil would never think of using.