Standing Alone? :: By John Lysaught

We are taught in our culture to not rely on anyone but ourselves. This taints our faith in a lot of ways because we have a hard time handing it all over to God. Jesus, in His human nature, lived His life in unrelenting faith to God, even to death on a cross. Shouldn’t we, as followers of Jesus, also let God lead us in our lives?

James 4:7 tells us to submit ourselves to God. Romans 12:1 admonishes us to give ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. Luke 9:23 says to deny ourselves and follow Jesus. There are many more examples of this, but let me say this: surrendering ourselves to Christ is important because it is presented to us so many times in the Bible. God is drilling this into our faith because it is important to submit to Him and how He wants us to live in Him and for Him. This is something not to be taken lightly.

But we do, don’t we? We cannot let go of some things in our lives to Christ. We beat around the bush about it; but in parts of our lives, we are not ready to do this. The question is, why are we waiting? Why won’t we just do it, now – not tomorrow, not next week, not if this or that happens, or when the “right” time comes around – but we need to do it now. Don’t get me wrong; I’m in the same boat, so I’m speaking to myself as well as you.

When we surrender to Christ, we are set free. There is no bondage to the world anymore, but freedom in being with Christ Jesus. We can’t be partially surrendered; we aren’t supposed to hold on to parts of ourselves or lives. We are to give it all.

The easy parts are giving our burdens to Christ. When we have a problem with this or that or some type of tribulation, yes, we are all for giving it to Jesus to fix. But shouldn’t we also give the rest to Him as well? Relationships, finances, free time, etc. We need to give it to Him. Yet, we do the opposite. We struggle with giving it all to Jesus.

Have you ever heard the Holy Spirit speak to you? Has He told you to do something that is contrary to what you think your life should be? We have two options when we hear Him. We can ignore Him or act.  In the little things of life, it is easy to listen, to surrender; but it is in the momentous actions in which He calls us that we have trouble. Those things that can lead to life changes scare us, and we are hesitant to answer the call.

Me, I am now retired from my federal job based on a disability that affected my ability to do my job. It doesn’t mean I can’t work; it just means I wasn’t able to do my duties. I was moved by the Holy Spirit to apply to do this a couple of years ago. The move to do this required me to lose over half my pay. I really struggled with this for quite some time, even during the process. At one point though, I realized the moving and my response to the Holy Spirit’s guidance meant that I would not be abandoned by Jesus.

With great angst and struggle in my mind, I gave it to Him. I put my trust in Him to take care of my family and to provide for us. You know what? Things are working out.

It isn’t as if we don’t struggle, but my trust and surrender in this aspect of my life has shown me that to surrender to Jesus is worth it. There is no longer any angst within my mind or heart. There is instead of this a peace of mind and a peaceful heart. What Christ has planned for me now, I don’t know, but I trust Him to lead me and show me where and what to do to serve Him. I have realized it isn’t about me, but it is about Jesus and His Kingdom, not my life.

The urging of the Holy Spirit in our lives to surrender our lives can cause fear and anxiety. Some respond and some don’t respond to action. It is fear that causes us to pause; and instead of considering what Jesus wants of us, we contemplate how it will affect us. We don’t think about His glory and how He WILL take care of us, but we get selfish and think about ourselves.

I don’t think it is bad to have some fear or anxiety, but we must push past those emotions to act for Jesus. He won’t neglect or abandon us because He has a purpose for each one of us to magnify His Glory and His Kingdom. We fear the unknown; but if you will consider this, we don’t know what will happen in the next minute, day, week, or years to come. They are all unknown, but our problem is we get comfortable in our lives, and how we live is a pattern we expect to continue each day.

I stepped into the unknown when I received my retirement. I have been working since I was 14 and have never stopped. It was quite scary to consider losing most of my income and not working a regular job anymore, but I’m doing it now. I trusted and responded, and I’m okay.

It takes a lot of courage to surrender all to Jesus and follow His will for us. Our will, as important as it might seem to us, is in no comparison to what Christ wants. It may not be life changing, or it may; but regardless, we need to surrender and follow Him. It may be as simple as getting baptized and being the example and light of Jesus at work and in your family. Even this can be scary for some. We worry about what others think of our change, or what they will say to us, or if they will persecute us.

It may be as simple as Jesus calling you to serve in the community to aid the poor. It may be a complete change in your life and career. You may be at a good job making good money, and Jesus is tugging at your heart to change your path to His path. It is our decision to follow His calling for how we live and what we do.

Society tells us to stand alone. Society says our lives are defined by our ambitions and our desires. This is a selfish aspect of our society. They tell us we can’t rely on anyone else to make it in this world. We are taught to step on people, lie, cheat, and be dishonest to move ahead. Even as Christians, some do this.  Even if we don’t, though, the attitudes of self-reliance are ever present around us. We are all surrounded by this and are victims of this thought cycle pushed on us since we were young.

When we surrender to Jesus, we are turning our backs and flipping upside-down the society we live in.  This is good of course, but many struggle with this nonetheless. Society says to do one thing, and Jesus says to do another. Society tells us to hold on with a tight grip aspects of our lives, and Jesus tells us to hold onto our purpose for Him. Society tells us success is achieved alone by ourselves. Jesus’ plan of success and purpose may be opposite of what our society tells us it is. We just need to let go of what we have been brainwashed with and hold on to Christ and His promises, and act on His will for us.

I think we all want to do this, but we fear failure – not in a godly sense, but in a worldly sense. We worry what others will think. We think about the comfort we have with our careers and lifestyles. Basically, and to the point, we think in selfish ways.  It is not about Jesus but is about what will happen to us if we follow Him completely.

Some may be offended by this, but we are selfish. We tend to think of ourselves when Jesus calls us to surrender. We fantasize and daydream of serving Him; but when called to action, we tend to shy away when it threatens our comfort zones of how we live now. We then contemplate now, not how we can serve Jesus, but how it will affect us; and then we try to negotiate with Him instead.

He may call us to do something that takes us out of comfort zones or that will change our lives in some manner. In response, instead of answering His call, we either ignore it, justify why we can’t do it, or will partially answer His call or even replace what He wants us to do with something that we are comfortable with or that won’t change our lifestyles.

Look, the whole point is to follow Jesus and not stand on our own. We can’t do it. We can’t survive on our own without Christ in our lives. We need to surrender to Him so we no longer rely on ourselves but rely on Him to guide and lead us to where He wants us to be, not where we want to be. It takes an unshakable faith and complete trust in Him to take care of us. Without complete surrender and trust, we cannot fulfill Christ’s complete plan for us in our lives in this world. We all know this, and we all feel it in our hearts. We need to overcome the fear and anxiety, and stop standing alone.