surrender

All of Me by Mary Napier

For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves…For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only insofar as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls.
From “A Slip of the Tongue” The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis

What do I do about a God that wants all of me? Every believer that has said “Yes…” to a relationship with the Lord has had to face this question. When we first gave ourselves to the Lord, first asked Jesus into our hearts, first became a Christian, a Believer – however we express that initial coming into a saving relationship with Him – we probably sincerely thought we gave Him our “all”. And perhaps some of us did. But for many of us, we probably didn’t know what we were getting into when we opened the door of our hearts to the living God. Our concept of how big “all” is was, most likely, too small…

When God first knocked on the door of our lives, offering His gracious gift of Himself and the eternal life and salvation that came bundled with it, we considered His offer. When we decided that we wanted in, we eagerly opened the door and said, “Yes, come in, please, and make yourself at home.” We meant it sincerely. We fully expected Him to come into that house that is our heart and make Himself at home. We expected He might want to sit in our favorite chair, help Himself to the food in the refrigerator, even take our favorite snacks in the pantry. He might want to sit with us, maybe watch a movie together, join us in our day-to-day life. And it was O.K. with us. We had said “Yes…”. But then came the day when we found Him in the basement, going through the boxes of junk from our life before Him, sorting through our stuff that we really didn’t want to see the light of day (or, at least, not when He was around). Suddenly, He didn’t look like a polite house guest any more. Another day, we find Him in the attic, getting ready to do major renovations to the top floor, planning to knock down walls, raise roof beams, enlarge our space. Had we really agreed to this when we first invited Him into our lives? Who did He think He was? God? Oh…right…

Deuteronomy 6:5 says “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” The word “all” is in that one short verse three times. Part of loving God means acknowledging that He will make loving demands on us, the invading of His desires for us in all areas of our lives. When we let Him go through the embarrassing junk in our basements, we find that He both heals the wounds of our past and rids us of stuff that has been weighing us down for years, preventing us from experiencing His freedom. When we stand with Him in His enlarging renovation projects for our hearts, He shows us how small our “all” has been, how big and marvelous His “all” can be for us. And, then, we grow in our trust of Him, in our willingness to let Him have more and more access to who we are. We grow in our willingness to give over the parts of us that we foolishly cling to because we think we can, because it’s part of our fallen nature to do so. We grow in our desire to want more of Him as we simultaneously want to give Him more of ourselves.

And the good news for us is the growing part. Thank God that He is not an “all or nothing” God! He understands we are fallen flesh and allows us to grow in our understanding of what He means by wanting all of ourselves. His gracious mercy and patience prods us, always firmly, often gently (but sometimes not!), in the direction of a deeper relationship with Him. In 1 Thessalonians 4:1 (the subheading in the ESV wonderfully titled “A Life Pleasing to God”) we are encouraged with this:

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.

John the Baptist, in speaking of Jesus in John 3:30 says:

He must increase, but I must decrease.

More and more…increasing and decreasing. Both these phrases speak of an incremental process. We can grow in both our desire and ability to give ourselves to God. We can be honest before Him, confess our small definition of “all”, ask for the increase of His life in us, the decrease of our own view of things. The “yes” we initially spoke in our relationship with God can be an ongoing “yes”. Yes, Lord, I want to give You more and more of me. Yes, Lord, I want You to increase, while I decrease. Yes, Lord, I want You to have all of me…

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