I think many of us who are people of faith find at one point or another a tug on our spirits to surrender to God. I’m not talking about the initial surrender where we appoint Jesus as the Governor of our lives, but rather a more specific, pointed surrender in a particular area.
I remember a few years ago being in a place of spiritual apathy and, worse, disgust and distrust in this Christian God. I had a full list of doubts and disagreements, not with theology per-say, but God himself. When it came down to it, even though I could never convince myself that He wasn’t real, I was convinced I couldn’t trust Him.
I empathize with people who are in this same place. It really sucks. You desperately want to believe, love and trust this God you keep hearing about, but you seem entirely unable to muster up what you assume must be the faith you lack: the defeat of all your doubts.
My story has a different ending than “defeating all my doubts,” or rather a different beginning. I never answered my doubts and I never solved my intellectual arguments against God. In fact, today, three or four years later, I don’t know if I would have a convincing answer to my prior self’s interrogation. But, somehow I found myself trusting Him again.
Honestly, I could have fought this debate out in my head forever. Trust me, it wasn’t going anywhere productive. I could have wrestled against God until I broke my hip, but apparently I’m no Jacob and in the end I had to surrender.
I think sometimes we have a very passive approach to surrendering to God. We somehow think that to surrender means to do nothing. Try not to think about it. Let it go. Let bygones be bygones. Unfortunately, for me, the very thing that I was trying to surrender was apathy itself. In my distrust of God I had lost almost all interest in an active faith. Apathetically surrendering to a life of apathy sounds… well, ridiculous.
My surrender had to be more active than this if I ever wanted it to work. Yes, our theology should work. If it fails to do what it promises, it may be time to reevaluate what you believe and how you see scripture.
I remember being in worship. It was the first worship meeting I had been to since high school (meaning, all worship, all night for 3+ hours). There was a reading from Revelation and an image on the screen of a close-up of the sun. Suddenly I was struck with a revelation of God as a consuming fire. I had a very strong and real sense that I could literally, in the physical realm, spontaneously burst into flames and die as I stood before the consuming fire.
This was my moment. This was my choice. This was my active surrender. If He took me right then and I died, would I be okay with that? It’s hard to use words in such a way to portray the seriousness of this question in that moment. I was ready to die.
I knelt down, physically, with everyone around me unaware of what was going on in my spirit. I surrendered to Him that night in a way that I had never surrendered before. My surrender definitely didn’t look like trying really hard to not think about everything that was bothering me, it looked like an intentional act of surrender. My testimony is that as we surrender ourselves in “death” to our King, He will raise us up with the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead. When we choose an active posture of surrender, He pours out an active resurrection power.
That same night I received the gift of tongues, and, looking back, I mark that night as my baptism in the Spirit and in fire.