Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sharp Surrender

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." --Philippians 4:12

"There's always something," my husband sighed as our three children shouted at each other in a language we could not understand. After months and months of fighting to get Levi, now he's ours and the period of "adjustment" is in full swing. Levi was new and exciting when he came to visit us each weekend. But now he's just an annoying brother.

"Why do we always get the annoying ones?" my biological daughter, Andi, asked as I put her to bed last night, exasperated with both her siblings. Five months ago when the brakes had been put on our adoption process by an unsupportive psychologist in Budapest, this same little girl looked at me with anguish in her eyes and asked, "What if they don't let us have Levi?"

We are never satisfied, are we? There's always something.

We tend to our lives filled with the phrase, "If only ..." You can fill in the blank.

If only I had more money...
If only I had a car...
If only I were married...
If only I had children...
If only I had a better husband/wife...
If only I had smarter children...
If only I had a better car ...
If only I could lose weight...
If only I were better looking...

...then I would be content/happy.

Really? I doubt it.

Because if we live the "if only" lifestyle, there will always be something else -- just out of our reach.

We frail, pathetic human creatures seek our completeness in the things of this world. AND some of those things are truly good and legitimate requests we can make of God. But these things are not God and therefore will never give us the "completeness" we seek. And God is under no obligation to give them to us.

So often we approach God as if He owes us. After all, He's provided those things to so many others. Why not ME?!

And so instead of coming to Him recognizing who He is and who we are, we selfishly demand things of God, telling Him that "if only" he will give us this one thing, THEN we will be good and content Christians.

I believe contentment is deeply connected to surrender. I remember growing up in Church hearing songs that rhapsodized over "sweet surrender." But that may be a misnomer.

Surrender is tough when it is genuine. It involves loss, a death of sorts. It is a death to the self and all the expectations and rights we deem our own. And on the outset there is nothing sweet about it. It's more like sour or spicy hot, piquant, bitter or sharp. It is uncomfortable and goes against our nature.

And yet, surrender is the centerpiece of the Christian life.

We call Him Lord. And yet readily tell him NO!

Think about that. There is some fundamental contradiction in the statement "No, Lord." If He is TRULY our LORD, then we can only say, "yes." If we say "no" then He is not truly our Lord.

So this brings us back to the places of discontent in our lives. If God chooses to never give you any of your "if onlys", would you still be able to say, "Yes, Lord"?

After all, a place of discontent may very well be little more than a place unsurrendered.

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