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Full Surrender

prayerSo I stepped up the pace, laid down some things, and focused more on God’s will.  I thought it would be better, more ethereal and powerful.  Instead, I felt worse.  More of my faults were exposed.  I felt chastised.  What happened to the “O Happy Day” that is supposed to show up when you pray, fast, and surrender?

The fact is, when you bear fruit He purges you so that you will bear more fruit.  (John 15:2)  That is difficult to understand.  You expect a reward for more praying, more fasting, and laying down frivolous things, thereby being more available to God.  That’s a bit like expecting some award or commendation for showing up to become a Navy Seal.  The hard work is not showing up for duty, but being prepared for duty.

We should keep in mind that presenting our bodies a living sacrifices is merely “reasonable service.”  (Romans 12:1-2)  Therefore, simply deciding to do what we should have been doing all along, what God has been convicting us to do for quite some time, is not an occasion for an award.  It is simply surrender to be equipped for what He called us to do.  Equipping involves purging to be prepared to receive more knowledge, wisdom, and power.

Besides all that, there is another factor that is as much a deterrent to some professing Christians as it is an attraction to other ones.  Is there any famous person that you would want to meet?  How would you feel if you met them?  Nervous?  Subordinate?  I know that if I had ever met A. W. Tozer or Leonard Ravenhill, I would have been uncomfortable and a man of few words.  When I spoke, I would have been conscious that anything I said would probably have been considered shallow to them.

Imagine coming nearer to the completely holy and awesome God.  Many times when I have felt like I entered the Holiest of All, I felt very unclean and unworthy.  I can empathize with Isaiah. (Isaiah 6:5)  However, if you linger there long enough you will not wish to leave.  Once His glory flushes out of you all the besetting weights and other baggage, there is no greater experience and no better place to be.

The same can be said about the post-purging experience.  Have you ever prayed like David, “Purge me with the hyssop and I will be clean!”?  (Psalm 51:7, in fact the entire chapter.)  The hyssop was a rough plant that was used for cleaning out bottles and other vessels.  It is like having a spiritual wire brush plunged into your spirit.  But afterwards, you wonder, “How could I have ever allowed myself to become so unclean.” No matter how righteous you felt before that process, you will recognize it as self-righteousness afterwards.

The post-purging process is a condition that makes it all worthwhile.  Years ago, I remember after one such experience walking in the mall with my wife.  I don’t even know what we were shopping for, but it was something for one of our daughters.   Very clearly, the Father spoke to my spirit through the Holy Spirit and asked, “What do you want in here?”  I looked around and saw the expensive shoes on one side, suits on the other, casual clothing just down the way, and we had even passed an automobile displayed in the center of the wide aisle.  I replied, “Nothing, Lord.  I don’t want anything in here.  I just want more of You.”

That experience set me on a journey to expose in me anything that was not submissive to Him, and to continuously be in submission to the Holy Spirit so that I could be conformed to His perfect will.  The truth is, when we reach the twilight of life, we will not take comfort in our memories of any accomplishments beyond what we know was truly accomplished for God and God alone.  We will rejoice more in our surrender, times of purging, and the joyous afterglow.  God is light with no shadow of turning. (James 1:17) The more you shine, the more you blend.

If our constant prayer is, “For Your glory, O Lord, I must decrease and You must increase!”, then as unpleasant as it is, we will submit to the purging process again and again.   If you want your words to be powerful, to bear fruit, to defeat ego and pride, to see people as God sees them, to love beyond the human level and degree, to be spontaneously obedient, to have a pure heart with pure motives, and much more, then submit to the purging process.

Spend some time in prayer and submit the toys, the frivolous activities, and all else that you have been convicted about.  Endure the initial feelings of rejection, of unworthiness, and maintain a determination to keep your vows.  Let me know how it turns out.  Like everyone else, I would cherish the encouragement in this dark hour of Christian apostasy.

 

3 Comments

  1. good word!

  2. This is exactly what Iam going through:asking the Father to give me a pure heart and clean hands,to rid me of all sinful attitudes and selfish heart motives, to prepare me for the days ahead to stand, and help me submit to His will. What a wonderful place to be finally! I no longer have itching ears, heaping teachers to myself, erring from the truth of God’s Word.All of this when I actually listened to my husband and read the Bible for myself.When you ask the Lord to reveal truth- the real truth of the gospel, not man’s version- He is so faithful! I love Him so much!

  3. How I wish all Christians would do this! What I have found along that same path is this: we desire what is bad for us, we resent what is good for us. Most Christians don’t want tribulation. (just try convincing a pretribber for a few minutes!) They don’t want fiery trials that will test faith. They don’t want to be put in challenging situations where they are tempted to take the easy road. They don’t want to suffer persecution. But, what does God say about these things? Through these things He is sculpting us, like the potter and the clay. Through these things He is refining us, like when you purify gold of the dross. Through these things; pressures, fires, painful experiences, He is creating a diamond out of raw material. Scripture teaches that. In fact, the Christian path of following Jesus is one of suffering, persecution, and martyrdom. We learn to have faith in Him to bring us through (not around, but through). We learn the wisdom and the reasons that were beyond our understanding before it all. We begin to see through His eyes. Our perspective changes as do our priorities. We begin to think; “How could I ever have been happy like that before?!” and pity those still there. People do pray for God to conform them into the image of Christ. They want that sort of honor. But when they hear from God that they need to lay this down, let go of that, forsake such and such, well then they say… “hey, wait a minute! I just wanted to be conformed into the holy image of Christ!” But how can that be, without letting go of worldly idols, personal image, personal acclaim, pride of life, pride of possessions, accomplishments, and all the trappings of the culture, from sports to the mall and everything else along the way?
    All of this in the article is familiar to me. I did this a few years ago and began seeking God’s will for my life, and such things. I let go of so many things along the way, like leaving heavy baggage behind that was just weighing me down in my walk. We have to leave it at the gate anyway. While praying for God’s will in my life, I remember getting two distinct words (not unusual when you pray deeply to hear from Him). I was puzzled at first. But then it all made sense to me. That is the path we are on. There are thorns along the way, there are nails, barbed wire, and all manner of suffering for His namesake. All of Christian history testifies to that, the echoes of the testimonies throughout the centuries. All of a sudden I realized, this is the honor, this is where the glory lies, remaining loyal to Him unto the end of a path marked with thorns and briars. On the other side, it’s all gold. That’s what I’m aiming for, running the race to win, heading for the finish line unhindered, and hearing the words “well done good and faithful servant!” All else pales in comparison.

    God bless you!

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