I was 13 years old on the day of my water baptism, eager to have my sins forgiven and discover more about God. I remember my heart pounding as the pastor asked me, “Do you accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord?”
I nodded and screamed, “YES!”
Sixteen years later, I took an honest look at my life and my level of joy. It was kind of …”blah.” I was living the way I wanted but followed a set of “rules” which I thought was the formula for happiness: go to church, read my bible, pray and be nice to people. I was trying hard to follow the “rules” but wasn’t experiencing any significant CHANGE in my heart and life. Then, I realized those 16 years ago, I had accepted Christ as SAVIOR but not as LORD. This was significant because the bible was clear: to LIVE, we must die to ourselves. We must surrender our will to Him. All I could think was, “uh oh!”
A Kingdom, ruled by a King, was a hard concept for me: born and raised in the “land of the free,” independence is praised and ambition encouraged. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept of asking a “LORD” what He would WILL for my life. It was MY life and I can do with it what I want….right?
No. Yes but no (lol…if THAT makes any sense).
God reminded me He PURCASHED my life with the blood of His Son. And when I screamed, “YES” all those years ago, I was HIS and no longer my own. And rightfully so! I received a “free pass” from death and the cross that was meant to be mine but in return, God was asking for a life dedicated to HIM.
And yet…THIS revelation was NOT what changed my life. No matter how I tried and wanted to, I couldn’t seem to WILL myself to surrender ALL of my life. I would relentlessly beat myself up for being weak and selfish and cry out and pray for God just to FORCE me! (Have you ever prayed like that?!). “Just CHANGE me, God! Just MAKE ME do it!”
But He is the perfect gentleman and too much in love with us to do that. In fact, it was the revelation of His LOVE that wooed me surrender my life. I’ll NEVER forget the night: I was sitting on my couch, asking Him what He thought about me. For 20 minutes, I listened with tears of joy as God lavished words of life and love on me. I had never felt so loved. I had never BELIEVED I was truly loved until that moment. And when I was FULL of love and joy, beaming with tear-stained cheeks, I asked, “So what are you up to these days? What else have been doing other than what you are doing here with me?”
I sensed God’s beaming smile and elation as HE replied, “Finally! I’ve been so eager to share with you!” That moment with God changed my heart and my life. The fruit of the last 3 years of my life has exceed the total of the 16 years of faithful “rule following” preceding it.
To finally believe in the fullness of His love for me makes me eager to be where He is…doing what He is doing. Without being forced or willing myself to do it, I had found my way to the path of sacrifice and surrender. That blessed path was spending time basking in the relentless Love of God.
What about you? Are you ready to look with new eyes at the Love God has for you and let it change you completely?