Monday, January 5, 2009

Relinquishment

Every journey begins with one step. The first step in preparing our hearts for renewal seems simple. “You must Choose. Make a decision to rededicate your life to God.”

Easy, right? Not necessarily. When you really think about what it means to “dedicate your life to God,” it becomes harder to take that first step. There is a cost involved and the cost is high. Jesus says choosing to give our hearts to God (he calls it becoming a disciple) will cost us everything we are and have. He says it means losing your life--dying to yourself. Dedicating our lives to God involves relinquishing things, and even if we’ve made the initial decision before, every time we renew it there will be new things in our lives to relinquish.

Jesus urges us to count the cost of discipleship before we decide to follow him (Luke 14:26-33), and A.W. Tozer challenges us to do that by asking a number of sobering questions. He speaks of being filled with the Spirit, which is another aspect, or way of talking about surrender to God:

Before you can be filled with the Spirit you must desire to be filled. Are you sure that you want to be possessed by a Spirit other than your own? That Spirit, if He ever possesses you, will be the Lord of your Life! Do you want to hand the keys of your soul over to the Holy Spirit? . . .Again, are you sure that you need to be filled? Can’t you get along the way you are?. . .Are you ready to present your body with all of its functions and all that it contains—your mind, your personality, your spirit, your love, your ambitions, your all?

That’s heavy. What if you give your all to God and he takes you at your word? What if He takes something away that’s very important to you? What if He takes the thing you love the most?

The sobering truth is, He will. Because it’s the thing you love the most that will come between you and God, and if there’s anything between you and God, he is not Lord of your life. You have to give up everything if you want to dedicate your life to God. “If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”

If that’s the case, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would do it. Why wouldn’t you just go on as you were, following Christ at a comfortable distance, keeping the things you don’t want to give up close to your heart?

For some reason, God doesn’t allow us to do that if we truly belong to him. He nudges us. He makes us “feel things” in our hearts. Tozer says: But maybe you feel in your heart that you just can’t go on as you are. If you feel that there are levels of spirituality, mystic deeps and heights of spiritual communion, purity and power that you have never known, that there is fruit which you know you should bear and do not, victory which you know you should have and have not—I would say, “come on,” because God has something for you.

God does have something for us—something wonderful. Relinquishment is just the first step. When we give him our all, he takes it, sanctifies it (sets it apart for holy use), and gives it back for us to use for His glory and our good. Tozer says that what God gives us back is . . .a full and wonderful and completely satisfying anointing with the Holy Ghost. It’s this full anointing, coming only after a full surrender, that opens the door to spiritual blessings in our lives that will overflow to bless the world around us with eternal good.

That’s strong motivation. The farther I go in my walk with the Lord, the more terrified I become of missing, because of my selfish refusal to relinquish something to God, the full ETERNAL blessing of fulfilling his ETERNAL good purposes for the ETERNAL lives of people in the world around me. The stakes are high. If we decide not to sell out totally, we are sacrificing eternal blessings for temporary ones, not just in our lives, but in the lives of people God longs to bless through us.

Tozer says, For every one that actually crosses over into the Promised Land there are many who stand for a while and look longingly across the river and then turn back to the comparative safety of the sandy wastes of the old life.

How tragic. Lord, I do choose, once again, to give myself totally to you. Thank you for giving me that choice.

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