Peter began to tell Him, “Look, we have left everything and followed You.” Mark 10:28
“Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’” Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.” -My Utmost for His Highest (YouVersion 30 Day Devotional)
These were some of the devotional words I read this morning about total surrender. Can you say ‘ouch’? I was okay with the part about gaining heaven not being a consideration. The part that makes me squirm is the part that says wanting to be delivered from sin and being useful to God should never be part of your decision. If I’m honest with myself, I did take those details into consideration.
This made me realize something else this morning. “Lord, even when we ‘surrender’, our human nature is to do it for selfish gain” It made me think of POWs. Why do some of them surrender? Some surrender in hopes of having their lives spared. I am fairly certain none of these folks surrendered because in the middle of the war they realized…oops, I’m on the wrong side. That side over there…that’s the side I belong on!
But, in a way, that is what this devotional is saying. Surrendering for ‘I’ is not genuine surrender. We surrender for Him and only Him.
I think another ‘ouch’ is appropriate here.
This morning I thought about the three big ways I’ve been selfish in my quest for surrender.
I wanted freedom from addiction. I didn’t want to be in ‘prison’ anymore.
I wanted to live a life that was honoring to God
I wanted to live.
To want something that is good for us is not a bad thing. However, genuine surrender should be for God himself and not the potential good things and gains that come from that choice. I thought back this morning of the one prayer I prayed over and over during that season in my life when I surrendered my drinking problem to the Lord “God, change my heart. Make your desires my desires too” And, I believe God answered my prayer. He changed my heart and I had a desire to do things His way. Yet, I wonder how much of that request was more for me and not for Him? I’m still pondering this.
This made me think of Paul. He spent a huge portion of his life in chains for Christ. I’m certain imprisonment didn’t fall in Paul’s ‘I want’ category. Yet Paul’s heart was focused on one thing…to live for God alone. And his life reflected a life of total, genuine surrender to his Savior. Jesus, I choose you…no matter what the cost. I need and want You and You alone. And that is what I choose to focus on. That is how I choose to live my life.
I have to say. I’m not there yet. No even close. Selfish gain is constantly creeping into the equation and muddling up what I know to be true. What about you?
Lord, please keep working on me. Help me to walk with You in genuine surrender. Help me to say, like Paul was able to say, Lord, all I want is You and You alone.