“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:7)
Surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ is not a cop-out on our part. It is not choosing the easy way out of our troubles, or taking a detour around life’s problems by pushing these problems off on God. Surrendering our lives to God and casting our cares upon Him actually allows us to honestly face-up to the issues and challenges of life head-on, with a positive and elevated attitude that eventually achieves victory. A Holy Spirit led adventure of faith through life can only begin after we have stepped down off the throne of our lives and stopped trying to be our own god. This is not a cop-out, but the most sensible and clear-headed realization of the reality of our spiritual condition.
Only the Creator God can compose and orchestrate a genuine walk of faith that entails all of life’s situations and circumstances leading toward a man or woman “in Christ” obtaining a mature, godly character. People, who say that Christians are weak because they rely upon God as a crutch, could not be more misinformed. A genuine journey of faith by definition cannot be “using God as a crutch,” because we are incapable of writing our own long-range, biblical quality life-script containing precisely coordinated and focused lessons of faith. We cannot get outside of ourselves far enough to see, much less assume, the role of God in this particular area of composing and leading an adventure of faith.
Certainly no one today will be called by God to build an ark to save mankind, or be the father of faith, or part the Red Sea, or receive the Ten Commandments, or resist the prophets of Baal. All of those tasks have already been completed by others. The works that we are called to perform as modern Christians may not be as spectacular yet, but they start at the second half of the cross just the same as for the people of faith in the Bible. It is not the magnitude of the events that occur in our lives that matters, but the quality of our ability to hear His voice in the Spirit, and our willingness to follow His leading through faith and trust like the examples of the people of faith in the Bible. The scope and impact of what God calls us to do is in His hands.
People in our modern culture are conditioned to expect concepts like a biblical adventure of faith to be broken down for them into easy-to-follow 3-step or 5-step plans. But a personal journey of faith with the God who created the universe is not that simplistic. I am not capable of composing and orchestrating my own journey of faith, much less suggesting life-script callings for other people through a simplified 5-step plan.
This is one of the underlying messages of this book. A biblical journey of faith is not an imaginary thing, invented out of our own minds and then projected on to a god that we create. The narrative stories of the people of faith in the Bible are above human invention. If we play throw-and-catch with a baseball with the one true living God, He will catch the ball and throw it back. The God of the Bible exists in reality. Jesus Christ is risen and alive today. Jesus is perfectly capable of leading and guiding us through an unimaginably inventive and fulfilling adventure of faith because He created us.
The reader at this point might ask: “To have a journey of faith do I have to go somewhere? Do I need to sell my house and move my family to Tibet, or to Africa, or to the Amazon rainforest? Should I purchase a megaphone and stand on a city street corner and preach the message of repentance like the prophet Jonah or John the Baptist?”
The answer is that we do not have to physically go anywhere. We are already “there.” God already has this fallen world perfectly engineered to produce sons and daughters of light with transformed characters capable of possessing a “knowledge of good and evil” while freely choosing righteousness over rebellious self-autonomy. If we are in Haran and God wants us to go to Canaan, He will tell us. If we are in Canaan and God wants to craft us into becoming the governor of Egypt during a great famine like Joseph, God will engineer the circumstances to accomplish this.
How then do we as Christians yield and surrender our self-in-charge nature to the Lordship of Christ where it rightfully belongs, and begin living according to the second half of the cross? This starts by praying to God to accept our self-will and begin revealing to us His will for our lives. To honestly and genuinely ask God to crucify our self-wills in favor of His plan for our lives takes commitment and courage. God hears our prayers. God knows our hearts. God knows whether or not we are serious. He knows whether we have the patience, faith, and trust to see it through to the end like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Peter, and Paul. He knows whether we will accept by faith His power to energize our walk with Him through life.
If we are Spirit-born Christians, we are already on the positive side of the pre-destination issue. The mystery of how God specifically speaks to and calls each person is beyond the scope of this book. We can draw our own conclusions as to the mechanics of God’s enlisting of the people of faith from the narrative stories of the people of faith recorded in the Bible. But it is no small or casual thing to genuinely pray this simple prayer of surrendering ourselves to God. God will hear us, recognize our sincerity, begin to reveal His will to us, and our self-will at some point in time has to fall away in part or in whole to make room for His plan to proceed. This is part of what it means to pick up our cross and to follow Jesus.