NOBODY is ready to surrender to God unless he desires to do it. If you do not want God to have your all, you can withhold it. If the desire to be His completely has never thrilled your soul, you are undernourished spiritually, and are not living a normal, healthy Christian life. You need the Great Physician at once. I am writing in this aticle for those who want to be the Lord's own completely and are trying to find what it means to find this nearness to the Father.
There are two things I cannot do. One is to save myself. The other is to make my life good or effective for God. I know that most people think that God has to save us, but then we have to make our lives good and effective. If anyone is trying to do it that way he may as well quit now. It cannot be done. You can no more make yourself good or effective than you can save yourself.
Paul found that out, and did what every believer should do — he faced this terrible situation and accepted it. "I find then a law," he said. What is a law? It is a fixed rule. What was that law? "That when I would do good, evil is present with me, and that what I would I do not; and what I would not, that I do." This was the fixed rule of his life. He could not change it. It happened that way every time.
NOW, what could Paul do? What did he do? He admittted his predicament. He faced the issue and admitted his state of helplessness. Then he cried out. For what? A Saviour? No, he had been saved. He cried out for a deliverer! That was what he needed now. Suddenly it came to him that He who is the Saviour is also the Deliverer.
So, just as he had once fallen in helplessness before the Lord as his Saviour, knowing that all depended on Christ, he now falls helplessly before Him as the Deliverer, and begs freedom from the bondage that keeps him from being pure and more effective in service.
In the acknowledgement of his utter impotency in doing anything at all about his freedom from sin and failure, he shows the spiritual sense of a Spirit-taught believer. He had reached the point at which many of our preachers never arrive, much less the host of church members. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity," and this is true in the matter of living our lives just as it is in the matter of our salvation.
When were you saved? It was when you ceased struggling to become acceptable to God, and trusted (just as you were) God to do all for you that you needed. God can not save a struggling man; He saves trusting men. When struggle changes to trust, then God does His work. So it is with purity of life and effective service. We cease trying to become, and then let God do for us what we ourselves cannot do. This may to some sound like a lazy man's religion, but those whc know what I am talking about have not found it so.
Surrender to God is the voluntary act of turning all that concerns me over to God, shifting all responsibility to Him, reserving no corner of life from His dominion, making Him absolute owner and manager of my life and all that concerns it.
I hear many souls saying: "Why, that is simple. I have done that. I have wanted to do that for years. I have been willing for God to have His way all along. I want Him to possess me." And, just as in salvation, the simplicity of it is the stumbling block. I said this same thing for years. I wanted God to have me, to control me, and I wanted to please Him.
But I found that I never could live so that I could be assured that He had me. I never could experience that closeness I wanted. I was constantly in doubt as to whether or not I had done all that was required. I literally "inched" up to the throne, trying to convince God that I wanted to be His, but I was never sure that I had completed the matter and could never rest assured that He had taken me.
HERE is where I failed: I failed to believe God. I was putting it all in the future tense. I wanted God to shov me that He was accepting me, so that I could have the experience of a nearness that convinced me that I had brought the matter to a close, and was secure in His blessed arms. But it had not occurred to me that God had talked first. Long ago He had literally filled His Bible with promises in which He pledged to keep all we commit to Him.
Lost men, trying to be saved, do the same thing. They try to hear God's voice promising something in the future when God has said all that is necessary to care for every commitment we make. He has, by His promises, bound Himself to do everything we turn over to Him to perform for us.
When I saw this, I was amazed at my lack of faith. Then I said: "Why do I doubt? Has He not said, 'Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass'? Dozens of such promises I knew in the Word. Did Got mean it? Would He stick to them? Were they about me? Did they mean everything that concerns me? All my need? All my problems? All my desires for holiness? for effective service? Did God mean to bring all?"
Then, I thought I had brought everything, and in willingness and deep desire, I had surrendered. I had done this often, and was trying to let God have all of me. There I caught the gleam that made this experience mine. I suddenly realized that God was true; that He could not fail in one word; that He had said so, and that if I had committed all to Him, according to His Word, He had taken all I had committed. I was ashamed to find that what I was making so hard was simply believing God.
I did not have to be able to make myself any of these things I desired to be. I simply had to turn myself and all that making over to God, believing His promise that He would take me and it. Then I said, "Well, my Lord, if you have taken it, as you say, you have everything that concerns me. I am all yours, and all that is mine is yours. I understand it that way, and I believe you do too." Faith accepted the arrangement wholly on the promise of God. But, was not that enough? What else is more sure than His Word?
Some believers have great spiritual experiences at this point they say. I do not doubt them. I did not. It was purely a faith arrangement, and it was simply my believeing that God had accepted me because He had said He would if I surrendered, and I had surrendered, and that made it past tense both with God and with me. So, there I let it rest. From then on it was God's business.
Now to be good was no longer my job; it was God's business to make me good. To do effective service was not my struggle now, it was God's business to live in me, to work in me, to will and to do according to His own good pleasure.
IT SEEMED too easy, but I believed it still. I stuck to the Word, regardless of lack of feeling. He said it; I surrendered; I accepted His Word as the answer. Thus I considered it a finished arrangement, and God was now responsible. It was His to perform in me what He wanted. If I sinned, it was not my intention, and I would say: "Lord, that is just the kind of a fellow I am, and that is the way I will do if you do not keep your hands on me." If I failed to preach effectively, or found a lack of power in anything else, I would turn to Him and say. "Lord, you see I cannot do it. You will have to perform it."
Only those who know what I am talking about can understand such an attitude. But I was not indifferent, not cold toward the purposes of God. I wanted to be all He wanted me to be, but I knew I could not do one thing toward that goal. I knew that if I tried to offer up the efforts of the flesh I would merely get in God's way. So I rested on the oars and waited, holding on to the bargain of faith. I believed, that is all. I wanted experience, but if I lacked in rich experiences I could still believe that what I had committed He was keeping. It was His move now, and I say it with deep reverence.
God let me rest on my oars quite a spell. Nothing great happened for a while. I think now He was testing my faith. Some times I would say: "Shall I just coast along, nothing happening, and find that this whole thing is just make-believe?" Then I would say, "Well, Lord, you told me to commit, to trust, all I am and have. I have done it. You said you would take it. If you are true you have taken all I am and have. I am waiting for further orders." I had turned my case over to the Deliverer, and I refused to take it back. It was His by His own invitation, and by my committal, and I let it remain there.
This may sound cold-blooded to some but it was not. And the result in me was a peace I had never known: a peace that rested all things in His Word. I soon saw that Faith is the Victory. Believe when it does not look possible. Believe without experience. BELIEVE BECAUSE HE SAYS SO!
Is that all that took place? No, no! But that is all for this article. I have told you how I surrendered my life to God. Look at these words I have written, and discover the pure simple faith in them. Do not look for experience; it will come. Look for faith. Trust all to Him and believe He did exactly what He said: that He took all of me.
[From Western Recorder, January 23, 1941, pp. 10-11. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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