Surrendering To God
By S.J. Black
It has been really funny for me to watch my children, since becoming a father.
Some of the things that children do from time to time are so humorous that you cannot help but laugh. Even say for example when they are feeding the dog Jell-O and you know you shouldn't be laughing.
However, have you ever had to deal with a little one that is between two and three years old for any length of time?
It is hard to deny that little ones can be somewhat frustrating at times.
If you ever want to see a great example of true human nature without any 'political correctness' or 'manners' that are learned as we grow up, try watching a two or three year old sometime.
At two years old you have to be taught to share, not to hit or bite others, not to throw a tantrum when you are not getting what you want and so forth. At this age it seems like a child's favorite words are "mine" and "no."
Children at this age are also prone to get something in their little hands and to not want to give it up without a struggle.
Getting my children to go to day-care without any toys has been a major battle that we are just now beginning to win after exerting some serious effort. Not to mention a little old fashioned bribery with lollypops.
One of my children is particularly attached to a particular baseball hat. He wears it all day everyday. When he goes to bed, the hat goes to bed as well.
My wife and I do not really mind his hat wearing. We do not really see any harm that can come from wearing a hat night and day.
More often than not on the weekends, I am wearing a ball cap myself.
The problem is that from time to time, his hat gets slightly dirty.
On several occasions we have tried selling him on wearing a new hat that we purchased for him. But for whatever reason there is running through a two year old's mind, he is not even remotely interested.
One would think that he would want a nice new and more importantly clean hat.
However, he insists on clinging to the dirty old hat.
This is the reason that we are now the proud owners of four exactly identical hats? We are also the proud owners of the plastic frame that you use to wash a hat in the dishwasher.
Basically, when it is time for one of the hats to be washed, we sneak into his room late at night and trade the dirty one out for a new one. The hats are all identical and he cannot tell the difference.
I really dread the day that he catches on to our scheme!
Awe, the joys of parent hood.
I started thinking that we are all a little bit like a two year old regarding some things in our lives.
How many times have we all known that God was dealing with us regarding some sin in our lives but we just cannot let go?
We tend to get a death grip on certain habits or hang-ups that we just refuse to give up.
The sin that we like to hang on to is different for each of us. The sin varies depending on the person.
I know people who struggle with alcohol, others smoking. Some people struggle with pornography or drugs.
If you don't struggle with one of the "big sins", then maybe you have a problem with being judgmental of others? Or perhaps you have an issue with anger in your thoughts?
The list of possibilities here is very long.
If you are thinking that you do not have some hang up, then perhaps your sin is a tendency to lie?
We have all sinned and if you don't think you have an issue with something, then odds are you are not being honest with yourself.
Everyone I know has some area of weakness in his or her life. The only question is whether or not they choose to be honest with their selves and acknowledge it or to live in denial of the problem.
Lets be honest, you may not have ever committed murder. But do you tend to think bad thoughts about people?
Jesus taught in Matthew chapter five that if you think angry thoughts then in God's eyes you might as well have committed murder. Or that if you look at a woman with lustful eyes then you have already committed adultery with her.
The Sermon on the Mount is my favorite place to go and read on the occasions that I start getting prideful and thinking that I "have it all together" or that I am "better than the other person."
This sermon often reminds me that I am more like Paul, "the chief among sinners."
God tells us plainly that He has a perfect will for our lives in His word. For example, consider what God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 -
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
So here is the real question.
If we know that God has a perfect plan for our lives, then why is it that we often refuse to let go of some habit or attitude that we know is preventing us from growing in our relationship with the Lord?
Why is it that we are like my little boy?
He does not want to give up the old dirty hat for the new clean one that Mommy and Daddy purchased for him.
Regardless of how righteous we may think we are; the Bible tells us that we are like that dirty hat in Isaiah 64:6 -
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."
As a friend of mine likes to put it, we tend to have a problem with "giving up our stuff."
Personally, I think it is often our pride that keeps us from giving up our dirty hats and trading them in for the clean one God is willing to give us freely.
Many people are just afraid of change. They like their routine and being stuck in a rut.
But if we are willing to change, say for example the alcoholic that has hit rock bottom, how do we change?
I think that Paul tells us how we begin to change in Romans 12:2 -
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will."
It starts with a choice, do you want to listen to God or listen to the world.
It all comes down to seeking and obeying the will of God for our lives as He reveals it to us.
He offers us a new clean hat, but we have to give up the old dirty one in order to accept the new one.
If we are willing to have our minds renewed and to "give up our stuff" then the Lord has someone that He can mold into just the person He would have us to be.
Depending on the willingness of the individual to yield heart, mind, soul and body, the Lord performs His mighty works in the heart and changes us forever.
As we give up our pride and fear of change, the Lord continues to bring us more into the place of walking in the Spirit, a victorious walk in Christ that Paul wrote so much about.
He gives us everything we need in order to be delivered from our hang-ups and to pull down strongholds that Satan has in our lives.
This state of walking in the Spirit of course demands from us that we lay down our lives, and pick up our cross and follow Him on a daily basis.
If you fail and fall flat on your face, don't get discouraged!
We often fail in our problem areas many times before we begin to claim victory.
We fail, if for no other reason, because Satan knows our weaknesses and will do everything he can to exploit them.
Yet James tells us that if we resist the Devil, he will flee.
God will continue to work with you as long as you are willing to give it an honest effort.
Take to heart the words of David in Psalm 146:7 -
The Lord sets prisoners free."