I love writing. It allows me the freedom to think and process, the opportunity to take what might be a random thought and develop it and turn it over and around and occasionally inside out and see where it takes me. It also helps me see how things relate to each other because one thought nudges another and as I contemplate the second, a third pops up demanding attention and as I put that third thought somewhere safe for further consideration, a fourth peeks around the edge of the third silently pleading for a bit of my time and attention.
As I was finishing the last post, I became conscious of one of those silent peeking thoughts. As I was writing about surrendering to God, I wrote, “… having done it once, there is no guarantee that I will do it again.” The thought that was peeking around the edge went something like this, “That could suggest that we are never sure of where we stand with God because of all the surrendering we have yet to do.”–or at least that is sort of what I think it was suggesting–sometimes, my thoughts make a whole lot more sense peeking around the corners than they do when I actually look at them.
But this did start another train in motion. At some point in my life, I surrendered my life to God through Jesus. I was around 13 or 14 and just knew that this was what I wanted to do. I didn’t have a totally clear idea of what I was actually doing but I knew it was an important decision. I probably knew a lot more about my decision that the thief on the cross when he made his decision but a lot less than the Apostle Paul when he made his.
But the thought that came peeking around wants me to think about that. Was that very early commitment, made with the incomplete knowledge I had at the time, going to ensure that I had a place with God now and forever? I mean, I have already acknowledged that I am not always all that good at surrendering to God. I also know a whole lot more about the faith and my faith now than I did then. Can a commitment I made at 13 be enough to cover me now? Or do I need to keep renewing that commitment, something like a magazine subscription?
There are many who believe something like this, that faith commitments are limited and need to be renewed on a regular basis, meaning that between the time the commitment lapses and gets renewed, we have nothing. Such theology can produce a desire to continually re-commit just to be safe and it can also produce a huge spiritual insecurity because we can never relax and enjoy our place with God.
This uncomfortable peeking thought made things worse by reminding me of my inconsistency. I know I don’t always live up to the commitment I made way back then. There have in fact, been a few times in my life when I actually regretted the decision. All in all, my first surrender to God was weak, not completely informed, and inconsistently applied.
That peeking and uncomfortable thought has a good premise–my surrender back then by itself isn’t what keeps me safely in the presence of God. But all is not lost because that surrender was to God through Jesus and because it involves God, it isn’t all dependent on me. God has a part in this whole process and his part is the crucial and important one.
God takes my surrender, weak and incomplete though it was, inconsistent as it is and he reinforces and empowers and guarantees it. My surrender in Christ becomes permanent because of the love and grace and power of God. As Paul puts it in Romans 8.39b, there is nothing in all creation that “… will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NIV
My initial surrender to God established my place with God now and forever. Nothing can ever end that. And, on the basis of that initial surrender, I make all the rest of the surrenders in the context of knowing that surrender or not, from that point of accepting God, I have also been accepted by God, whose constancy and love and grace and power ensure that I will be with him now and forever.
May the peace of God be with you.