Friday, July 16, 2010

The Surrendering

After surrender – what? The whole of the life after surrender is an aspiration for unbroken communion with God. ~Oswald Chambers

About twenty years ago, something in my spiritual being changed... dramatically. Although I have forgotten the date, I have never forgotten the moment. I had always thought that accepting Jesus was all one absolutely had to do to secure salvation (I was rather young when I did this), but then, I realized those who only get that far often miss out on perfecting discipleship; that developing of a relationship with God. Most every church supports an ideology of getting to know God better through teaching, study, and prayer, but I believe what I experienced in that moment was beyond that.

I could go into all the particulars that led up to that moment, but they are not really that important to the message I wish to share now. I was ending a twelve-day fast—I suppose I need to stop here to explain that the number twelve has significance. It is often thought to stand for kingdom or government perfection, but I tend to think it is more symbolic of spiritual perfection and God used such references to symbolize that, perhaps that will be a discussion for another time.

The twelve-day fast I was ending started out with me asking for guidance on a particular matter, but it ended with me just quite earnestly...surrendering my life to the Lord completely. I just trusted Him so much that whatever He wanted me to do, I was willing to do, because I finally had let go of my own desires and wanted His desires only, and I trusted that whatever purpose He would ask of me, would be one that I desired and would even enjoy. I then felt a very spiritual and also physical change in me.

I have always referred to this as the surrendering to the Holy Spirit. I actually watched a religious program not long after this happened, where a man talked about a similar experience, which he also referred to as surrendering. I have since had some insight of what happened that day. Although I had no one praying over me and it was just a quiet happening in solitude, some Christian sects might call it being baptized in the Holy Spirit. It kind of describes the feeling, but for some reason the term just never set well with me, so I continued to call it the surrendering.

As things went on, we felt called to leave the church we were attending at that time, but we did not know where we were to go, so we prayed about this. In the span of just over a week three people, who did not know each other, suggested that we go the Church of the Nazarene, even though only one of the three actually went to a church of that denomination himself! It was rather odd because most people invite you to their own church, so we took that as a message from God and visited the closest two of the three in our area. We never made it to the third one, because during our visits to the second one, we knew it was to be our home.

However, I really did not learn much about the Nazarene doctrine then. Mostly I knew that they believe in holiness and were an off-shoot of Wesleyan denomination, but I did not learn much about the doctrine itself. When we moved from Florida, there were no Nazarene churches near us and although we did travel 45 minutes to one for about a year, it was just too difficult to be really involved. We then went to a close independent church for a time. Then I felt called to look again for a Nazarene church and found that one was now near enough for us.

It was not until we joined the church we now attend that I heard the term "sanctification" used so often and during a Wednesday night class, after all these years, I finally learned that the Nazarene concept of sanctification was what I had been calling the surrendering. Although I still like my terminology better, I finally realized why God had called us back again to the Nazarene denomination and this particular church as well. It is as close to anything I have found that harmonizes with what the Lord had guided my husband and I to believe and we were sure we are where we are supposed to be.

Even though this is the Nazarene doctrine, just like some church members may know all about the Gospel, but have never asked Jesus into their lives, some members have not yet been sanctified or have surrendered to the Lord. This might sound confusing to many of my fellow Christians and, undoubtedly, some accept Jesus and surrender to the Holy Spirit at the same moment, but most do not.

The difference between the two is accepting Jesus is just that: accepting, acknowledging, and even inviting Him into our hearts, but the reason we do this often is because we wish to be saved from impending doom. It is our selfishness, the desire to save ourselves, that we do this, for surely heaven sounds to be a better place to live eternity than hell. We may know about Jesus, but until we accept Him, we really have not gotten to know Him.

Then there is discipleship, when we strive to be like Jesus, when we really begin to know Him, when we begin to seek the will of the Lord personally, and when we stop praying at God only and actually listen for His words as He speaks back to us. At some point during this discipleship, which is ongoing until we pass on from this life, there should come a time when a person actually is in complete surrender to the Holy Spirit, that aspect of God that actually cohabitates with the spirit of the believer. At that moment, the selfish urgings that first brought us to the Lord take a back seat to our desire to surrender entirely to Him and we finally experience true self-sacrifice.

Unfortunately, many Christians do not reach this level in their spiritual walk. They are still on milk and not yet ready for the meat. I am saddened by this as they miss out on so much. Those who have surrendered will understand, those who have not, will not, just as believers understand what unbelievers cannot. In the end, I can only explain there is more and urge you to seek it praying to the Lord that He prepare you, so you will not try to accept it from Him, but that you will surrender to Him...have you done this yet?

My Lord, thank you for guiding all these years, for covering me with Your Grace when I did not seek You first, and for placing the desire for me to seek You. You have shown me a list of people who have not yet surrendered to the Holy Spirit, so that I may pray for them during this 40-day fast. I ask that You give each one the desire to surrender, to be closer to You than they have ever been.

6 comments:

  1. I think this is what Paul had in mind when he told us to work out our own salvation with fear & trembling. I get so fraught that so many Christians hang about on the fringes of LIFE, unable to enter into its fullness because no~one has shown them how!!! Bad teaching that does not teach the hard things that enable a close walk with God. *sigh* And this is why I get myself in trouble. I stir things up unable to allow everyone to snooze in their comfort zone. You are right. Surrender is essential. So is obedience. And why are these things glossed over when the Lord stresses their importance?

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  2. Ganeida, you caused me to ponder a bit. I was thinking that there really cannot be true surrender without obedience, but there can be obedience without surrender. Yet, part of me gave pause on that last part as well, because obedience to the law is really partial obedience. We are also to obey Him on what He would have each of us do personally, but that would include surrendering, right?

    (I think my brain went into a circle with a flip mentally.)

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  3. Wow! You are so awesome... I loved the post and it explains so much. Thankyou thankyou thankyou...

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  4. Seeking, this is the first time I have read your blog after awhile of enjoying your comments on Ganeida and Lobstar's blogs! I love what I have so far read and have a real sensing that God has much to teach me through what He has been showing you! A question on fasting as I see you have done a few lengthy fasts: I am new to fasting and unfortunately there is not a great deal of teaching on the topic within the church. I know Jesus said "'when' you fast", but when it comes to a 12 or indeed 40 day fast, is it something you enter into only upon God's leading or...??? Would love to learn more. Thankyou!

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  5. Lobstar, I am glad it has helped you.

    LightBulb, I have fasted many different ways and for many different reasons: spiritual reasons, obviously, but in addition to promote healing, reduce joint pain, to lose weight, stop food cravings, and promote longevity. I also fast at least one day a week as a routine for the reasons above and as part of the discipline in my discipleship.

    Sometimes I have felt called to fast and I had no idea for how long it would last, ending when the Lord told me to do so. Other times I have fasted on my own initiative to seek an answer from the Lord without His calling. Sometimes I am told exactly how long to fast and what day to start, other times it is just a nagging that I should as soon as things work out that I can. Sometimes I am just called to fast one meal and pray for something specific during that time. Every fast is different.

    I think I could write an entire book on fasting and my experiences with it now that I have done one 40-day (and then there are my husband's too), but here is an older post I wrote that may answer most of your questions and it has links to other more informative websites: My Last Fasting Day

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  6. Seeking, I have more questions for you - would you mind if we emailed? If you prefer not to put your email out, you can find mine via my blog if you're okay with that. Thanks :) http://lightbulb88.blogspot.com

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.