Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Finding Christmas: The Importance of Surrender

It was one of those silent arguments I couldn't win. You've probably had those, too. God wanted a certain thing done a certain way with a certain attitude. I didn't think it was possible. Had I believed it could be done, and with a good outcome, I'd have tried at the start. I didn't just doubt Him. I didn't believe Him at all. I expected a catastrophic outcome when I tried and failed.

Trust Me, God would say.

But God, I would say.

The preacher began to speak about the issue from the pulpit. Conviction came at me from every angle. Inescapable conviction.

Finally, I surrendered. "Okay. I'll do it Your way, but don't blame me when things don't work out." I didn't say those words aloud to God, but my heart felt them. 

When I finally obeyed, it quickly became obvious that God was right, and had been all along. 

What still surprises me is how God blessed my reluctant obedience. 

Looking back, I can see that, even more than obedience, He wanted my absolute surrender to His will. 

Even when it didn't make sense to me. Even when I didn't understand.

God's ways are inscrutable. (Isaiah 40:28) The word used there indicates that, no matter how carefully nor how long we search, we can never understand nor completely know His ways. Just when I think I have God figured out, I find  there is more to know. That is never more true than in the times when I arrogantly think I have a better way. I don't.

Absolute surrender is a struggle for me. 

When the outcome is clear and the action makes sense, those surrenders, of course, are easily done. I'm talking about the surrenders that no one understands. The "leave medicine and write a novel" kind of surrender. The "forgive your worst enemy" kind of surrender. The "turn the other cheek when you're being humiliated in public" kind of surrender.

The teenager, Mary, soon to suffer humiliation and scorn for a sin she didn't commit, understood surrender in a way I only wish I did. (Luke 1:30-38)

Mary had ear-nailed-to-the-wall, no turning back, total surrender from the first.

The angel Gabriel told her, "God has taken note of you, and He is pleased. He sent me to tell you that you are about to have a baby and He will be the Messiah you've been expecting." (Leanna paraphrase) Mary knew she was a virgin, but she didn't argue the impossibility of a pregnancy. She simply asked, "How?" 

"Nothing is impossible with God, so He will father the baby." (LP) 

I read those words and wonder how Mary responded as she did. She simply said, "Okay. Whatever God wants is fine with me. I'll do it." She didn't argue. She didn't say, "I'll lose my good reputation over this." or "That is a bad idea because I'm going to be stoned to death." She simply surrendered to the will of God and left Him in charge of her consequences.

Surrendering when the world does things a different way is not easy. It's also not optional. 

Christmas is one of those issues where the world has a very commercial way. The world's celebration is full of tinsel and garland and spending and bright packages. It's a months-long gear up for a few moments of unwrapping followed by an all-too-often sense of emptiness.

What if the body of Christ stopped surrendering to the world and surrendered to God instead? 

What if we admitted that Christmas has nothing to do with all this glitter? 

What if we surrendered to the truth that Christmas is about surrender?

Mary surrendered to the will of God. Jesus the Son of God surrendered to the will of His Father and wrapped Himself in flesh. Jesus the man surrendered to the will of God and took the long and painful journey from the manger to the cross. 

Christmas is about one surrender after another that, ultimately, bought redemption for sinful man. It's time we acknowledged it.

Christmas has nothing at all to do with Grinches (although it's a cute story) or trees (except the one to which Jesus was nailed). It is not about Santa Claus, no matter how many touching stories we tell to make it seem so. 

Christmas is about Jesus, and the theme of Christmas is surrender. 

To experience Christmas in the deepest way possible, we must celebrate through surrender. Search for the will of God in our lives and obey it. Whatever He asks. Nothing held back. 

The gift God most wants us to give this Christmas is the gift of ourselves, given to Him. Our will poured out before Him. It is the gift of surrender we must give our Lord, and it's the best gift of all.

"And Mary said, 'Behold, the bondslave of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.'" Luke 1:38 nasb

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: When Life is Less than Perfect
 #Advent #keepChristinChristmas #MerryChristmas #JesusChrist #disciple #Surrender 
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