Last week I was visiting a MyChurch profile page and was captured by a beautiful arrangement of perhaps my all-time favorite hymn, I Surrender All. This song has its own room in my heart, where it both convicts me and brings me peace every time I hear it. I added the song to my own playlist and continued to worship with it for the next few days, thinking it had been a long time since I had heard it in church. Then on Sunday, there it was. Our hymn of commitment. Providence. I have been singing and contemplating its words all week, as I have done during many periods of my life.
I was a freshman in college, living in the dorm, room 218. I had been a Christian all my life, but the young adult years were a real challenge to me, filled with conflict between God's call on my life and trying to find my way in the culture around me. I fell often and fought within myself constantly. One day I was sitting on the windowsill of my dorm room, dangling my legs outside, crying and talking to God. I was never one to contemplate suicide, but I was at a point of not caring about living. I told God it would be OK with me if He pushed me out the window. As I cried and prayed, I heard the Voice I had heard many times before, speaking to me clearly: "If you don't want your life, may I have it?"
In that moment, I understood for the first time what it meant to "die to self." I understood for the first time Galatians 2:20 which I had memorized some years earlier:
2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 RSV
I understood on a new level what Judson W. Van Deventer must have felt when he wrote the words "I Surrender All." That day on the windowsill I wept. It was an easy yes, as I didn't feel like I had much to give, but every few years God brings me that same conviction, not from a low point in life, but from any point. Every few years, as my life evolves, He re-invites me to surrender all.
It's almost haunting. Surrender all. Everything. Pride. Convenience. Preference. Rest. Opinions. Schedules. Commitments. Comfort. What if we really gave our lives 100% to God to use every second however He chooses? What if we could? Could we?
Evangelist Henry Varley is quoted as saying:
The world has yet to see what God will do with a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to the Holy Spirit.
The world has yet to see. Except for the life of Jesus, it has never been done. What a challenge! What an awesome possibility!
In later years I have come to understand that dying to self is not just about dying to sin, but about dying to all our plans, good and bad, that keep us from being available when the Spirit calls us. Dying to self means there is nothing on my schedule that is more important than whatever the Spirit wants me to do right now. My life is not my own. I am bought with a price. I belong to the One who gave His life for me. I desire in turn to give my life for Him, not in death, but as a living sacrifice. The world has yet to see . . . Why not now? Why not me? Why not you?
Worship and pray with me:
Lord Jesus, it is my desire to surrender fully to You. Fill me with Your Love and Power, that everyone I encounter today will be touched by You. I will ever love and trust You, knowing that if you are Lord of my life, it doesn't make any sense to worry about logistics. Let me feel the Holy Spirit. I want to live daily in Your presence. I desire to be wholly Yours. Take me, Jesus, and teach me to surrender all. Empty me of myself that I may be wholly used by You. Amen.
6:20 you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:20 RSV
9:23 And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23 RSV
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