Christianity is a walk of faith, and a life-long lesson in delayed gratification. In this life, we are given the choice to either indulge in hedonism and selfish pursuits or to surrender our desires and embrace the life God provides us. In order to fully receive God’s blessings, of course, we must surrender our selfish desires and reallocate our energy on our faith. The very thought of surrender can be daunting because it is much easier to pursue a life where we get what we want—but that is the foundation of hedonism, is it not?
OUR FEAR OF SURRENDER
What seems threatening about surrender is that we are afraid we will never feel satisfied if our personal desires aren’t fulfilled, but that is a lie of the Devil. The truth is that the life God has planned for us is far richer and more fulfilling than all of our desires. How do I know? From my personal experience, I lived most of my life burrowed in selfish pursuits as an unbeliever, and when I finally began understanding the basics of surrendering to God, my life radically changed in ways directly related to the choice to surrender. For example, surrendering my desire to be well-received by everyone in order to receive the love and acceptance of God means understanding the world’s point of view is based on ego and identity, whereas God’s point of view is based on love. The difference of this example alone has helped me see and to embrace that my identity was forged long before I was born, and when I realize what it was intended to be, the way I express myself is much more influential and authentic than the way I express myself when who I am trying to be is a conglomeration of facades I’ve gathered from what the world likes to see.
THE IPOD STORY
For many years, I had an iPod Nano, I would listen to music in the car and during my walks, gathering thoughts for future blog posts, song lyrics, or just zoning out. My iPod was very important to me, and I used it just about every day; obviously, my desire was for my iPod. Sure, the songs I listened to included some Christian songs, but for the most part, rock and soundtrack music flooded my iPod. What’s important about telling this story is how heavily swayed to continue listening to the music without realizing the impact it was having on me: Unnoticeable to me was the truth that I was feeling frustrated, negative, and upset more frequently.
Well, recently, that iPod broke, and ironically, I did not get very upset, and I’ll tell you why: I was being humbled by Christ Himself, lovingly reminding me that I had not been using music to glorify Him or to build my confidence in my faith, and, furthermore—I had been going through a period in my life when I needed God more deeply (there is never a time when I don’t need God, but to be honest, this period of my life made me feel more desperate for His love). Since I was using my iPod abusively, I believe God allowed the iPod to break so that I would be forced to spend time in the car (and out walking) praying, listening, and practicing presence. Ever since the incident with the iPod occurred and I haven’t had music to give me company, I must admit that the difference has been humbling, sobering, and it certainly has had a positive impact on my faith life.
MUSIC IS A TOOL FOR WORSHIP
Sure, in some version of a perfect world, my iPod would be working, and I’d be listening to my music constantly while on the go. But, is that really a perfect world? If I’m being honest, viewing music so highly is tantamount to worshipping music, rather than using music to worship Christ. Music comes from God, and when I abuse His gift of music, I abuse my ability to sense God inside the songs I listen to. When I listen to music without remembering Christ, I abuse its purpose. Worse yet, when I glorify music instead of God, I misplace the importance of God with the importance of one of His gifts—and I believe that is why the incident happened with my iPod.
While music is truly a beautiful invention, it is not God; but merely only an extension of Him. Is there something in your life that acts in the way my iPod did for me? Are you holding a gift of God above God? Are you able to worship God while using His gifts? If not, do you think that’s helping you to see Him as a loving God? When we’re unable to witness God in the blessings of life, it is not because He’s not blessing us, but because we are not perceiving His blessings for what they are. It takes one to extend their hand with a gift, but it takes another to take the gift and be thankful for the giver’s generosity. God gives us so much; food, shelter, water, relationship, cars, jobs, money, music—and so many times we receive these without any thanks, using our gifts while ignoring the Giver.
This isn’t intended to be a statement about thanksgiving, albeit that is a point which could be made—rather, this is a point more about the nature of worshipping God, and not the gifts of God. Where do we extend our worship? Do we worship sex, drugs, power, identity, relationships, alcohol, music, the internet? These are all things which can be worshipped, and none of them are God.
A REMINDER OF HOPE
In this world, the pace and speed of life is ever increasing, and the challenge for the Christ-follower is needing to be constantly reminded to keep their faith in the hope of Jesus. When we surrender to the name of Jesus, we let go of all the things in our lives we could be worshipping instead of Jesus by releasing our grip from the desires in our heart. Since desire begins in the heart, it is from there that it must be surrendered. Surrender is a physical, mental, and spiritual release. When we release one thing, we grab another; in releasing our selfish desires, we must cling to the hope of Jesus by having faith in His promise that He has delivered us from Hell, providing a way into Heaven; an eternity without pain, death, suffering, loneliness, malady, or disease. When we place our faith in this hope, the hope itself nourishes our soul with humility, replacing the impulse for our selfish desires to be met, and in their place, we are replenished with the desire to be filled with joy, peace, hope, love, grace, and forgiveness—gifts of the love of Jesus. This is why I say Christianity is a life-long lesson in delayed gratification: We believe so strongly in the Word of God—Jesus, Himself, and His promise of redemption—that we live our whole lives in the hope and faith of seeing Him when we die, surrendering our selfish desires for our lifetime here on Earth, knowing He will fill them with something far greater.
For many, the notion of surrender sounds like a threat because they disbelieve in the promising hope of Christ. In our hope for Christ, we find reason to love unconditionally, to give generously, and to believe whole-heartedly. Without Christ, our hope is founded in the transient pleasures of a corrupted world. The world has a set of rules by which loving others adheres to, and to extend beyond these rules is to beg for judgment and condemnation (i.e. unconditional love versus expectation and disappointment). When Jesus came into the world, He set a new example for how the world can love: By dying on the cross while we were still sinners, He rescinded all our excuses to be phlegmatic about love. We can no longer explain away narcissism without first identifying its purpose by comparing it to Christ-like love; whereas the selfishness of narcissism lives for itself in harmony with hedonism, Christ dying and rising again opened the possibility for humanity to live in the embrace of the unconditional love of the Heavenly Father, through the most selfless, altruistic act given as a gift to the world; for all generations past, and all generations to come. Jesus became the epitome of altruism and the prime example of love, and when we try to excuse our selfishness, we must speak to the cross itself, for no example raises higher than Jesus’ choice to suffer for us.
When we surrender, we surrender our desires in the faith of attaining Jesus’ promise of eternal life with Him. Not hope as in, “We’re not sure, but maybe,”—no. Hope as in, “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we know that what’s coming will be glorious.” Our hope in Christ isn’t some figment of “perhaps one day,” but rather, “only a matter of time.” The hope Christ offers is absolute, promising, and real.
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE
Is there anything left in your life you haven’t surrendered that is keeping you from embracing God’s promise for you? Are you ready to take one step closer to Jesus and make a bold choice in surrendering any idols you’re worshiping which do not exult Jesus’ name–but instead, exult the propensities of a broken world? These are tough questions because they require more than just a “yes” or “no”—they require action. Don’t just think about these questions—apply them to your life. Where could you strip away parts of the world from who you are to leave room for Jesus to fill you up with peace, joy, and humility; hope in the eternal, painless, deathless future with God Himself?
My prayer for you is that Godly humility will overcome you, and that His strength of spirit would remind you that you are not alone; you are never alone. God is with you always, and He desires to embrace you with His unconditional love. If you’d like to receive His gift of love through Jesus Christ, you can take that step by surrendering what’s holding you back from worshipping Him. I was worshipping music too much, and barely even Christian music! What kind of surrender will help you feel God’s love today? Ask yourself, and follow through by trusting in the process of surrender. Transformation starts inside. You can say “yes” and think “no” all day and never move. Instead, say yes, then get up and do something about it. Take action, surrender the world and receive God’s promise of love through Jesus. Truly, this will be the single greatest lesson in humility you will ever learn, for it will be a daily reminder of Jesus in your life.
May God bless you as you go forward today! To read more, please follow this blog. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LancePrice2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please share this with anyone you think would benefit, and feel free to write in the comments below—I would love to hear from you! God bless you!! May He meet you where you are and encourage you with His love, in Jesus name.