Quite often, when I am working through something like this with God, my understanding grows as I start typing. I have not attained the place I wish to be – I am still on that journey. In fact, I would be so inclined to say that I am merely at the very beginning of that journey.
The subject of surrender – with regard to God, could be vast. Volumes have already been written about it; each one looking into another facet of the same jewel. I have no desire to add to any of those great works. I have read a few, and I have to say that rather than any of them being a ‘formula‘ for surrendering to God, they are just the author’s own experience written down for others to read. This is important to note because God only deals with individuals. He is in the business of making relationships with people. He never offers a ‘one-size-fits-all‘ experience for us. Never. I am coming to the conclusion that we have simply made the whole subject far too complicated.
The danger with following someone else’s method of surrendering to God, is that we, as mankind, have a tendency to get all legalistic about these things. We look to follow someone’s pattern or formula and reap the same blessings. When it doesn’t happen the way it did for the other guy, we get disenchanted and move on to the next formula to see if that might work. Even me writing this for you to read runs the risk of you trying to follow my processes and fit it to your own walk. I can tell you, I am starting to understand that God simply doesn’t work that way. In fact, I am convinced that surrender is, not only a great deal more simple than people believe, but it is the foundation stone of our salvation. Without surrendering fully to God, the Kingdom of God will always be just beyond where we stand.
So, if it is that simple, why isn’t everyone doing it? That, my friends, is the big question.
I’m not going to spend any time deconstructing modern church life to explain why everyone isn’t doing it. The answer to that question is just as simple as the solution itself. People aren’t surrendering to God, not because it is difficult, but because they don’t believe they have to. They just don’t see the need. No one is desperate. I wrote in Part Two that we only surrender when all other avenues of possibility have been exhausted, despite the fact that the Bible makes it very clear that surrender is the only way. Unless you find yourself down a particular dead-end street, with no way out, you won’t ever consider surrendering to God. Only the desperate will surrender.
Of course, as I also explained in Part two, if you seek to do His will alone, then He will bring you to a place of desperation – a place to test your resolve to see if you will concede and start to trust in Him to get you through. Often, my observation is, that people to whom God gives this choice will either walk away because it is too hard or temporarily surrender and trust God to get them through the test. I say temporarily, because invariably they return to the old ways pretty quickly after the testing stops. I should know, I can see that I have been doing that continuously for a while…until recently.
God is consistent; He wants us to trust Him in every single aspect of our lives, from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall back to sleep. He wants us to trust Him in this way because He knows what is best for us. We might have some idea of what we think will be best for us, but I am learning that when I stop and seek God about what I think is best for me, He nearly always shows me a better way…His way…The Way.
I noticed something today that has made me think very differently about all of this. The words that I noticed I have read many times before. I do that – read things and never really understand them. It is not until I stop and ask God to show me that I gain a true understanding of why it was written down at all.
After Solomon died and Isra’el split into two kingdoms, both Isra’el and Judah had a total of twenty kings each. The kingdom of Isra’el ended when they were exiled into Assyria, and Judah’s demise came at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. If you are not up to speed on the kings of Isra’el and Judah, may I suggest that you get to it. There are rich pickings amongst those pages of the Hebrews’ history. Try starting at Joshua and reading through to the end of 2nd Kings. That will give you the entire period from the crossing of the Jordan, when Isra’el first entered the Promised Land, right up until they were carried off into exile in Assyria and Babylon.
Of Judah’s twenty kings, only eight are called good kings. The rest were bad. All of Isra’el’s kings were bad, without exception. They followed the ways of the pagans and forsook God. The eight good kings all had something in common that separated them from the rest. They all followed David’s example and sought God. If you take the time to look through the histories of kings like Josiah, Hezekiah, Uzziah and Jehoshaphat, you will notice that they all followed the basic same pattern – they sought God. They were the kings of men, but God was their King. Here’s what the chronicler said of Uzziah:
“He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.” [2nd Chronicles 26:5 NKJV]
So, to be clear, God made him prosper because he sought God. That seems pretty simple doesn’t it? It only gets complicated when we start to analyse it and ask what it really means. What it means is that Uzziah spoke to God constantly in all he did. It means he left nothing to chance at all. It means he consulted a prophet called Zechariah, to make sure he understood what God’s direction was. We need to do this in every aspect of our lives – work, relationships, money, where we live, the lifestyle we live, everything.
In Part Two of this little series, I explained the evidence that there are consequences for not seeking God. Famine, drought, sieges, to name but three. What I didn’t mention was that when we walk in God’s way, and by this I mean seeking Him in every aspect of our lives, there is also a consequence – one of blessing. God cause us to prosper when we seek Him first.
Matthew 6:33 says this:
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
All what? Well, food and clothes, the things that Y’shua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) had just been speaking of in the sentences before. Is this not exactly the same method that the good kings of Judah adopted? God never changes. His consequences for not following His ways and His blessings for following His ways are the same today as they always were. Nothing has changed with God, only our understanding. The modern church tends to view Isra’el’s history as not relevant to today. I suspect it is far more relevant than we will ever fully understand. We might not be experiencing the wars and famines in the literal sense that the Hebrews did, but in a metaphorical sense we are. In exactly the same way that John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is a metaphor for every aspect of any believers walk from damnation to salvation, the history books of Isra’el also reflect our spiritual journey from Egypt to Jerusalem. From the bondage of our old lives to the self-sacrifice and surrender of our new lives in Christ. We should, it follows, use those pages to draw upon for our own spiritual nourishment.
I said at the end of Part Two that I would continue with what happened next. I think I will actually wait and return to that in another instalment because what happened next is still ongoing. I believe that what I have written about here is, in fact, of such gravity that it might be wise to stop here and make the following suggestion: Try, for a day, or a week, or a month, to seek God in all you do. When there is a situation before you that needs consideration before you set your feet in it, stop and give it to God. If you are unsure of what His will is for you in that situation, stop and ask Him, and wait for an answer. He will speak. It might be through scripture or through another situation. Y’shua used everyday situations to teach His disciples. Remember that we are His disciples and there is no reason to think He won’t use the everyday to teach you His ways. Seeking God in all you do requires humility. It means that you have to admit that your own decision making process is imperfect. It means acknowledging that God’s ways are much better and higher than our ways. When we approach God in this way, like the loving Father He is, He will always lead us in His way. Try it. It will revolutionise your relationship with Him, because His blessing trumps everything, and we can only reap the benefits of His blessings if we are walking according to His ways.