Last Sunday, I experienced one of those uncomfortable, Holy-Spirit-convicting moments. As I stood in church, singing with the congregation to a worship-band rendition of "Mighty to Save," I suddenly felt surprised by the chorus:
"I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender (I surrender)."
In the past, when I've sung those words, I assumed they alluded to Christians—myself included—who whole-heartedly follow their belief in Jesus Christ and his gospel. But this time, I sensed God's Spirit place a different emphasis on the chorus's wording, suggesting it's about surrendering what I believe in so I can truly follow.
This subtle shift prompted a time of painfully honest reflection. I know I sincerely believe in Jesus' historicity, his divinity and humanity, his act of substitutionary redemption for my soul on the Cross, his second coming. I believe and have accepted Jesus as my Savior and Leader.
But then I recalled the Beth Moore Bible study I participated in a few years ago—Believing God—and how Beth clarified the difference between believing in God and believing God. Belief is active, not passive; it's more than intellectual assent to a concept. My believing God should transform every corner of my life; it should color every aspect of my world.
I began to wonder if there are other beliefs—besides my faith in Christ—that actively shape the way I live? What assumptions do I make, what expectations do I carry within, that I may need to surrender to the Lord? Sadly, I uncovered several unbiblical ones. Here's the short list:
I have the right to a long, happy, healthy life.
My parents have remained active and healthy in their retirement years. In fact, they've been able to travel the world—trips to Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Europe. When I assessed how I look at my future, I realized I believe my life is supposed to unfold the same way as theirs: healthy, enjoyable, pleasure-filled, shared with family and spouse.
At the same time, I've known of too many godly women whose lives have been stricken with untimely illness or disability or terrible loss. Yet somehow, in a corner of my heart, I think, That won't happen to me. But what biblical basis do I have to assume my birthright is a long, happy, healthy life?
The truth is, I'd much rather cloak myself in comforting assurances that God will grant me the desires of my heart. But what about those believers enumerated in Hebrews 11—those who wandered in deserts or were beheaded or became lion food? What about the apostle Paul, who suffered beatings and poverty and illness? Or Jesus himself, brutally tortured for my sins?
While there's nothing wrong with hoping for good things (and knowing my Father, who is good, delights in gifting his children with good things, as we're assured in Matthew 7:9), I have no right to define what those good things might be. That's God's purview. Otherwise, I'm as foolish as the New Testament rich man Jesus talked about who counted on his big barns and amassed harvest to provide him with a long, comfortable, leisurely life.
This belief in a birthright to health and happiness is one I must surrender, as scary as it sounds. I don't really want to. Everything in me resists it. But as my pastor has often preached, Christ's purpose in coming to this earth wasn't to make me happy, but to make me holy.
I'm not as worthy of God's love as other Christians are.
For many years I've struggled with the gut feeling that compared to everyone else, I'm negligible in God's eyes. Unfortunately, this belief pervaded my relationship with him and with others, as well as impugned my ability to plunge into whole-hearted service. So in an effort to compensate for my perceived inadequacies, I've tried to earn love by being "nice"—someone who's caring and kind and sweet, who tries not to rock the boat or upset anyone.
I cringe to think of the years I've allowed this faulty belief to influence me. The reality is, it too has no biblical basis on which to stand. I continually need to surrender this lie to the truth God loves me (John 3:16), rejoices over me (Zephaniah 3:17), died for me (Romans 5:8), and will never leave or forsake me (Romans 8:39). That means he loves me when I'm nice—and when I'm not. He loves me even when others don't.
I may never be a beautiful, popular, recognizable, and successful woman in this world, but worldly labels, accolades, recognition, and accomplishments hold no sway over God's irrational love for me. I've been beholden to the deception that others are more special than I am for way too long. I need to remember: We're all equals at the Cross.
This journey to uncover and replace belief systems that need to be surrendered continues—and I suspect it will last the rest of my life. But as I ever so slowly work to replace lies with what God has told me to believe, I anticipate being able to sing "Mighty to Save" with a fresh appreciation of its chorus.
What beliefs about yourself, God, or others do you need to surrender to Christ?
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