Rooting us out from the flinty crags of our forlorn existence, the relentless pursuer of souls attends to the terms of our surrender. And after a lengthy siege we come with hands up, waving the white flag.
But our surrender does not have to be a bitter one. We are not necessarily “losing” as we so often have experienced eating crow among equals on earth. This is because of the greatness of who we’re surrendering to. The apostle Paul understood the incredible freedom of living for the correct King: “I consider all things as loss so that I may gain Christ”(Philippians 3:8).
Gratefully, this verse also says that we can consider our “losses” (and not just our gains) as loss for the sake of gaining Christ, which we would gladly jettison. The pain of our losses can be removed. It may seem to hurt to give up what we think brings us life, and reckon them as loss for the sake of gaining Christ. But it’s only ego deep. Getting roughed up by this world and fatigued by the hits and disappointments of the false leads should serve to loosen our death grip on things of this world. The pain only lasts to the extent that our identities were tied to the false selves of the flesh.
Some people say “I don’t need a master, much less one in heaven”. The irony is that everybody has a master. The only question is “What is the qualitative nature of that master?” No man is self existent; we’re all dependent on things without for life. Lest we think that living for any other master than God (including ourselves) is good, how long before we realize that “the way of the transgressor is harsh,” as Solomon said in Proverbs 13:15? Or as the Roman poet Juvenal discovered over a thousand years later, Nemo malus felix: “no wicked man is happy”. Having self on the throne makes for a horrible task master, with the abundance of self critical thoughts swirling around in our minds.
We’re born for God; the human heart aligned and serving Him is the most beautiful fit of any two substances on the planet. It’s more natural than two hydrogen molecules aligning with an oxygen one. In fact it’s super-natural. Wrote Habakkuk, “Note this: Wicked men trust themselves alone and fail, but the righteous man trusts in me and lives!” (Hab. 2:4).
Essentially a man is never diminished one iota when he lets His Creator have His rightful place in the heart. But he does slowly disintegrate all the way to hell with continued rejection. Don’t fall for the trap that you’re getting back at God by witholding your heart. God is not diminished by one particle if we reject Him. Only we lose out. That’s the distinction of this God and king. He is so big that he can afford to share His inheritance. At best military commanders will let you live as a POW. Many choose a policy of death and humiliation. But the Commander in Chief of the Universe restores us and asks us to fight for the winning side; he even promotes some to distinguished servants as top brass in the real kingdom.
So God pursues us in loving, gentle and spiritual ways. He could have taken us out like a linebacker spear-tackling a quarterback. But He chose to operate in a different way. He felt it glorified Him more to give us a choice. God pursues and attends to the terms of our surrender with gentleness, persistence, and the detail of a heart surgeon. He may use small inconveniences, frustrations, or thwartings. Or He may allow some devastating losses. But either way, He’s not giving up.
You can think of it in two ways. He’s either a search and rescue party if you’re honest enough to admit your inadequacies in the sojourns of life. Or, if you prefer your rebellious ways, he’s a posse always dogging your heals like fugitive on the run. Either way, God is better than the FBI and He always gets His man. Only the man continually holding out and shaking an inward fist at God in defiance is a fool and perpetual loser.
Ultimately, “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord” (Romans 14:11). The only question is, will it be willingly or unwillingly? Remember, losing is inevitable for all men. Why not rather cut my losses and start serving the king now? Why hold to my selfish ambition and lose out for eternity? So wave the white flag now and attend to the terms of your surrender to the fairest master of them all. That way you’ll get credit for it. It doesn’t matter if you have been a believer for many years or have never knowingly tasted of the goodness of God. The dynamics are the same. He will offer you the best of terms with better treatment than any military conqueror in history. It’s not that humiliating when you consider the greatness of who your surrendering to.
Christ is the fairest in judgment because he is the most majestic in essence. The fairest in the land has little to do with the skin deep beauty of Snow White. No matter how beautiful, a person can never meet the deepest needs of the heart. An old hymn dating back centuries to the days of royalty sees Christ as the fairest:
- Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
- O Thou of God and man the Son,
- Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
- Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.
- Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
- Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
- Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
- Who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Surrendering to Christ is like being traded from a horrible basketball team to the perennial world champions; you’re not really losing anything. You’re going from the losing side of this world to the winning side in the next. C.S. Lewis was right: “Aim for heaven, you get this world thrown in. Aim for this world, you get neither.” Won’t you bow the knees of your heart and surrender today?
Copyright 2012 by Scott Chandler. All rights reserved.