Do you remember the story of the rich young ruler in Luke? A wealthy man came to Jesus to find out what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus answered by listing some of the commandments from the Law. The man felt sure of himself–he said that he had followed all of the rules all his life. That’s when Jesus threw the bomb: “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). This statement made the man very sad because he didn’t want to surrender EVERYTHING for Jesus–he had a lot of money.
What would you have said if Jesus had challenged you with this? If money or possessions aren’t as important to you, what if He asked you to follow Him in something that would make you seem to hate your own parents or children in comparison (Luke 14:26)? I’ve often wondered if I would walk sadly away if He asked me the same thing–if I would fare any better than that young rich man.
I recently read the book Anything by Jennie Allen. God has used this book to take me even farther along the path to surrender than I thought I needed to go. He’s done so much in my heart in the area of surrender for so long that it didn’t seem possible that there was more to give. There was more. Much more.
Jennie Allen, in her book, chronicles her journey surrounding the time when she told God that she would do anything for Him. Anything. She writes, “We were over it. We were over building our lives. We were over houses and cars and cute Christmas cards. We wanted something; we couldn’t put our finger on it. It was burning in us. We had loved so many other things more than God. We were ready to do anything” (xi).
As I read this book, the more I read it, the more I agreed with her. I’ve felt this for a long time, as long as I can remember. I don’t want to live a normal life, a life all about me. I want to live a life pursuing my God, being used by Him, being led by His Spirit, glorifying Him. I want more of Him.
One morning, I sat on my exercise bike in the gym after reading another chapter in Anything. I pedaled furiously with my eyes closed, face expressing fully all that I was feeling, but I was past caring what anyone around me thought of me. If I prayed it fervently enough, would He listen? Would He work through me? It seemed that I’d prayed similar prayers in the past with no noticeable difference. Would I mean it enough this time? I was so afraid that it would just be the same as usual–I would really mean it but then forget about it the next day–and that nothing would change. But I prayed, hoping: “Anything, God. Anything you want from me. I want to surrender it all. Everything.” Another night, as I lay in bed, I tried to imagine myself giving Him everything around me–my clothes, my house, my things, my…family. The last one was much harder, but to the best of my ability, praying for His help to do it all the while, I laid it all out before Him. And I waited.
A few days later, He started taking me up on the things one by one, just as He did to Jennie. She writes, “God wanted some of the things we offered, and he sent some back to our pockets for our use…He was sorting through our Monopoly pieces and claiming all of them but selecting a few he wanted to cash in immediately” (101). It was like He was testing me one at a time–are you really ready to let that go? Sometimes, after I had already jumped off the cliff in one area, He neatly caught me and put me back on top safely–ok, you trusted me there, but you don’t really have to do that right now. A few times He tested me twice in the same area–you gave it up then, but you were really relieved when you didn’t have to give it up–are you still ready if needed? I felt like I was on a roller coaster.
But what am I saying? I can’t write in past tense. I’m still on the ride! He’s still testing me, asking me to surrender my desire to continue homeschooling my children, my health, and on and on. He is a jealous God–one of His names is Jealous–He suffers no rival (Exodus 34:14). He wants all of me. But that’s ok. I want all of Him. More than security, more than my dream of what my life would look like, more than what people think of me, more than an “experience” with Him, more than anything, I. want. Him.
It’s not easy. Sometimes I realize that my hands are still tightly holding to one thing or another. “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),” by Hillsong United says, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” I’ve sung it, truly meaning it, over and over, but I’m only just starting to understand what it means. If I can’t trust Him with everything, can’t put these things in His hands, I will never go deeper with Him.
I am elated that He took me at my word, that He chose to pull me into the deep waters and teach me to trust Him–the very beginning of faith in my God. I pray that He will continue to help me surrender and answer the call that He gave to the young ruler, “Come, follow me.”