When you hear the words “Total Surrender” when it relates to following Jesus, what comes to mind? Many years ago for me the idea of total surrender meant that I must give up all the stuff I really enjoyed if I were serious about following Jesus – music, sports talk radio, hanging out at bars drinking beer and throwing darts, playing golf, etc. At that time I felt that the things that I was overindulging in were the problem, but the problem itself was much deeper. It was rooted in the fact that these activities were taking up a lot of time and a higher place in my heart than my relationship with God, my wife and my kids. My priorities were way out of balance and my relationships were showing it.
Early in my faith journey, the time where personal discipleship truly began taking root, I needed to make some drastic changes in my life, but didn’t know what to do or how to grow. So with very little guidance, I simply gave up the things I saw as detrimental to the relationships that mattered most. For me, without guidance, that was exactly the right thing to do as it helped me focus my energy and faith in a way where priorities simply worked themselves out – God first, then my wife, kids, etc. You see, without a mentor, someone intentionally walking alongside me in my early faith journey, the places I was hanging out were not healthy places for me to spend a load of time. However, if I had a mentor, I truly feel I would have seen an opportunity to extend the relationships I already had in those areas of my life to a spiritual level, inviting others in on the journey of faith I was embarking! Hindsight is always 20/20, but I feel God is showing me these things to share with others beginning their faith journey as well as with those who are willing to make a difference in the life of someone who is beginning to navigate this journey of faith!
Surrendering ourselves is allowing God to best be glorified through our lives; and your life may be best utilized in a bar or on a golf course!
Giving up the stuff we enjoy in order to follow Jesus was never His plan; His plan involves Total Surrender of our selfish desires to His will for our lives, yet living our lives right where we are now in a way that glorifies Him in our thoughts and actions. The type of music I listened to, the bars I hung out in, or the golf courses I played on were actually a big part of who I was, and exactly the type of places where God could be glorified by a sinner like me who was saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. The problem was never the activities, it was making these activities a priority in my life over the relationships I needed most.
So if you are early in your faith journey, have been a follower of Jesus for a long time, or are simply investigating the man Jesus, God really does desire for you to develop your relationship with Him first and foremost – to become His disciple. Building a relationship with a good mentor is a great way to grow and learn to navigate this new found life in Christ, and is the example Jesus used to reach people when He walked the earth as well as the model He shared with us to begin making disciples. As you continue to grow and become His disciple, God’s desire is that you would begin making disciples as well. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus commissions us to go and make disciples. This is a great reason to continue the relationships we had when we were seeking out our selfish desires (for me, bars and golf courses)…what better way to glorify God than by living out our transformed life in front of those we have had relationships for years! And in doing so, maybe God will provide an opportunity to begin sharing your testimony of change with those who already know your past self and have witnessed the radical diference in your life. Of course if the places you hang out are unsafe or unhealthy for you in any way, you will need to use discretion…I am not saying to keep yourself in unsafe conditions, but I am saying to listen to God and discern whether or not you must walk away or simply change your focus and priority. Again, a good trusted mentor can help in guiding you as well!
Surrendering ourselves is simply allowing God to best be glorified through our lives; and your life may be best utilized in a bar or on a golf course! When our priorities are clear, a little beer or golf may be the avenue that God desires for you to make an eternal difference in the life of someone who desperately needs a Savior! Don’t just think about surrender as a sacrifice…live a surrendered life that frees you up to love others in a way that only you can love them…in the places where you are free to be yourself, and the places where others are free to do the same! God doesn’t want to simply change your behaviors; He wants to transform your life! Your life, as well as mine, is a mosaic of relationships where Jesus can be made known in conversation over a beer or a game of golf…and to God be the glory!