It’s been awhile since my last post. I have been in a battle for the renewing of my mind and the transforming of my body. Many of you have read Romans 12 in the Bible, which is a favorite chapter of mine. Periodically I return to this chapter for a deeper look and a greater understanding. This time, I am aware that complete surrender is my most difficult challenge.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to surrender everything to the Creator of the Universe! I always thought I had… my husband, my children, my life…but I am realizing that I do not surrender easily. My mind told me I did. But I don’t. I still wanted to have a “say.”
Romans 12:1-3 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (‘of worship’ is added in some translations). And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
I want to give everything to God. I want to experience all that God has for me. I want to be honest about who I am and the gifts and talents that I have. I know that God has given me a measure of faith. Then why does this truth want to do battle with every feeling that is within?
Well, the first thing that came to me as I re-read that sentence was that there is a great difference between our feelings and the truth. Truth is never changed by feelings. Oh, we may try to distort the truth. We may try to twist it or minimize it or add to it, but the truth itself will never change. The truth just is. It stands alone.
My wonderful husband has a physical distortion of the truth that he deals with every day. Early in our marriage we were taking a walk and I noticed a beautiful red flower standing alone in the middle of a plant full of rich green leaves. I pointed to it and said, “Honey, look at that flower! Isn’t that an amazing picture of God’s creation?” His response was, “I don’t see a flower. Where is it?” I said, “Can’t you see the red flower in the middle of that bush?” He said, “Oh, that explains it. I was born with color-blindness. I can’t see red or green as they really look, especially when red and green are together.”
Now, color blindness distorts the truth. God created the colors red and green. How we are able to perceive these colors does not change the truth of the color and its clarity.
And before we go any further, know that God did not give Gary color blindness. What comes into our lives as sickness, disease, infirmity or destruction is the natural result of the original sin committed by Adam and Eve. Satan encouraged them to doubt God, His Word and His love for them. When they acted on this encouragement, original sin was born into our world and is personally overcome only by the perfection and redemption of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Back to the topic at hand. God IS Truth. He was dealing with Adam and Eve truthfully and honestly, just as He does with all of His creation. God’s enemy, the devil, always lies, deceives and tries to manipulate our feelings. Jesus called him “the father of lies.” God’s Word says that Satan came to kill, steal and destroy… a total distortion of what God wants in our lives! Why else would Satan have planted a question in Eve’s mind about God’s spoken Word? He wanted to destroy the object of God’s affection… mankind.
Often, all Satan has to do is plant doubt in our minds about God’s Word. “Hath God said…?” was the question he asked Eve in the Garden. Eve wasn’t sure how she felt about having information withheld from her. At that point Eve began to doubt God and His Word. She had always believed in God’s love and goodness before this time, so what made her believe the lie now?
Well, Eve knew that God has placed Adam and her over the entire created world. The world that she knew was still small, but thriving and growing by the day. She knew that she had been given freedom of choice about what to do and when to do it. She knew that God had spoken to Adam about the two trees in the center of the Garden. Adam was told that there was one tree containing the Knowledge of Good and Evil and that they should not eat its fruit. When Satan asked Eve the question, “Hath God said…?” she “stretched” the truth for the first time in recorded history. Eve wasn’t sure how she felt about having information withheld from her. She said God told them not to eat it… and she added, “…or even touch it.”
God never said that. Why did she do that? Well, God had also given mankind imagination… the ability to dream. God wanted us to live and grow… to do all that He had purposed us to do. He placed amazing seeds in every area of creation, including our minds. These seeds, physical or spiritual, grow and multiply. They recreate and reproduce the beauty of all that God has given including music, art and poetry. However, once this duo, the first-fruit of mankind, ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they became aware of God’s enemy and his realm of disobedience and rebellion. Sin was introduced to the world and life would never be the same.
Sin brought with it a new kind of seed. The new seed began to reproduce and with this seed came separation from God. The intimacy that Adam and Eve once had with Him was gone. In its place was a loneliness that couldn’t be filled even with the love that they had for each other. It was big and tangible. And it was eternal.
But there was also an emptiness that moved the Creator. He already knew what they would do. When He gave them the warning about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, He said, “… for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) So, if God already knew that man would eat of this tree, why did God choose to give mankind choice? Why does God allow us to make our own decisions when they may cause pain and suffering in the lives of others… even Him?
Let me ask another question? Have you ever been in love? How did you feel the first time that your special-someone said, “I love you?” What about the first time you and that same someone had a fight? Did that same someone ever betray you? What were your feelings then?
Being betrayed by someone you care about, creates a hole in your soul. It leaves a cavity large and noticeable. That kind of emptiness can grow into a cavern. The emptiness that resides in each of us, large or small, and for whatever reason, can only be filled with God Himself.
The emptiness that touched God when Adam and Eve made their choice must have been just as painful because God spent a lot of time reaching out to His fallen creation to repair the breach. Finally, He sent His Son and the rest is history.
You may wonder what all this has to do with complete surrender. Well, in Romans 12 we are asked to present our bodies a living sacrifice. As I understand the Greek, both of those words mean exactly what they mean in English… “living” and “sacrifice.” That means that the very least I can do to show my Redeemer how much I love and appreciate what He’s done for me, is to give Him everything that I am.
Going deeper, I want to show my Heavenly Father how very much I love Him for loving me first. I want to let Him know that I’m grateful for all that He did for me…things that I could never do for myself. I want to show Him, with my life, that the measure of faith that He already gave me, is growing each day as I trust Him as my only Source. I want to let the amazing Holy Trinity, who created me in their Image, know that I am willing to yield everything that I am to their desire and purpose. I want to become all that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit know that I can be!!!
That is my desire. What I do on a daily basis doesn’t always fulfill that desire. I wrestle with my feelings as I remember the truth… that I am loved beyond reason by a God who created the universe. And so, I am slowly, but surely, yielding my gifts, my abilities, my love and my faith to the only One who can gather all that I am and make something useful… something that will allow His love and blessings to flow to others.
Now I am facing my most difficult challenge with hope and joy, knowing that God has my back… knowing that He wants me to take charge of my feelings and embrace the complete truth found in His Word. He wants to help me yield to His every truth. He wants to end all doubt about who He is and what He has done for me because He loves me so much. He wants to make me aware of all that Jesus restored. He wants to help me understand what it is to be created in His image and to use that reality to become the best that I can be.
My prayer is that you wrestle with the same challenge… and win!!!