THERE ARE MANY THINGS IN LIFE YOU COULD PURSUE, any number of them worthwhile. But there is one pursuit that is supreme, one pursuit that trumps all others, one pursuit that will positively transform every other aspect of your life. Neglect this one pursuit and there will be hell to pay. Prioritize it and the positive impact – for you and countless others – will be impossible to estimate this side of eternity. This one pursuit is complete surrender to God on a daily basis. What you need is a dedicated time, each day, to intentionally surrender yourself to Jesus Christ – so that the pursuit of truly walking with God isn’t a dream, but a reality. To succeed with this kind of surrendered devotion, you need to stop looking at your life as a series of years. Deliberately surrender – one day at a time – and tomorrow will take care of itself. All you need to do is focus on one day at a time for the next thirty days, prioritize genuine surrender, and thirty days from now you will be a transformed, revived, refocused makeover of who you used to be. Remember, if you focus onthe next thirty days only, and recommit yourself thereafter to another thirty days of the same pursuit, your spiritual revolution will be underway. The years of your life will begin to take care of themselves.
Focus on one day at a time for the next thirty days, prioritize genuine surrender, and thirty days from now you will be a transformed, revived, refocused make-over of who you used to be . . .
WANTS OR NEEDS? You may want many things in life – but there is only one thing you truly need. You must be able to distinguish between your wants and needs, or you will pay a heavy price. It may even be an eternal price. Consider 1 Corinthians 3:12-13:
“If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” – NIV
The life of a God-follower is one of quality, not mere activity. People who don’t know the difference between their wants and needs wind up living distracted, troubled lives. This is not to say you won’t have problems when you fully surrender to God. You will. However, the kinds of problems you’ll have from following God are far better than those you’ll have if you stray from Him. Take care of God’s business, the business of living a surrendered life on a daily basis, and he’ll take care of yours. Who do you think can do a better job of managing your life and handling all the problems you face, you or God? Enough said.
Be careful you don’t allow yourself to be side-tracked from what you really need in life, because you only get one shot at life this side of eternity. What you really need is complete, daily surrender to Jesus Christ. This one thing will eclipse every other thing you may think you need. Daily surrender to Jesus Christ – true surrender – absolutely trumps everything else you think you need – but really don’t.
YOU: A FOREIGNER IN NEED OF HELPIf you think about entirely surrendering to Jesus Christ for the rest of your life, it may be overwhelming. It’s also impossible to know what life will look like ten, twenty or more years from now, when you’ll face very different challenges. This is why the wisest thing you can do is to simply focus on complete surrender one day at a time for the next thirty days, and then repeat this practice when the thirty days are over.
When I lived in Africa for a short season, I learned the value of Psalm 149:5, which says “Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds” (ESV). I was unaware of this verse the entire time I was there – yet the process of starting the day with songs of worship, before I even got out of bed, again convinced me that there are benefits to living life according to the Word of God. Psalm 119:4 reminds us “You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed” (NIV). Beginning your day by praising God – before you even get out of bed – has tremendous benefits. It will set the mood for your whole day – if you do it with real surrender to Jesus Christ. If you do this for thirty days you will see such a difference that you will not want to go another thirty days without repeating it.
. . . you too are in a foreign land, a foreign culture – doing something you’ve never done before.
In Africa, I would begin to praise God and surrender to Him the moment I awoke, while I was still in bed. I had to surrender to Him every morning because I was completely out of my element. I was by myself in a foreign land, a foreign culture, doing something I had never before done. I learned that it is impossible to walk with God without intentional surrender to Him. You must believe the same. You need to see yourself as out of your element here on earth. You are.
While in bed I would sing to the LORD, but before I began singing, I began surrendering. (By the way, any song sung with surrendered sincerity to God is sung on-key, every time, no matter how “off key” it might sound to you or anyone else. True worship emanates from the heart of true surrender). Quietly, I would get on my knees in my bed and be still before God. Then, I would begin to literally tell Him some variation of this prayer, offered with focus, passion and determination, “Lord, I surrender to You. I give you all of myself, and all of this day, and all of the resources you’ve placed at my disposal, in complete surrender for your eternal glory. Help me to live a surrendered life.” I would then crawl out of bed, grab my Bible and journal, and meet with God in my “prayer closet” for more time, alone, with Him. As I began to get into the practice of starting each day this way, my life began to change. If you do the same, you will see your life positively change as well.
The truth of the matter is that the moment you decide to become a God-follower you make the decision to travel, permanently, in a foreign land, a foreign culture – to do something you’ve never done before.You need supernatural help if you want to live a supernatural life. If you are a God-follower, you are a sojourner, an exile in a land not your own – with a mission from God. 1 Peter 2:11 reminds us of this truth:
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” – ESV
You will have moments when you mistakenly think you know what it means to live a surrendered life to God – but ponder this more deeply and you’ll see you are mistaken. Your entire life is in perpetual need of a divine overhaul. This overhaul can and should happen every single day. It needs to happen every moment of every day. How can this be accomplished without intentional surrender? It can’t. This is why you are focusing the next thirty days on deliberate, daily surrender to Jesus Christ. This is why you are setting aside intentional time at the start of every day, for the next thirty days, to surrender yourself and all your endeavors to God. Repeat the process once it ends.You’ll have created a new, fantastic habit that will make going back to an ordinary, merely human-empowered life the most ridiculous consideration you’ve ever entertained.
YOU, ON PURPOSE God chose to give you life. It’s your choice to live a surrendered life. The purpose of having a prayer closet, a set-aside place where you meet with God and pray to him “in secret” (Matthew 6:6) – is so that you hit the bullseye of a surrendered life. There are many other things in life you could go after, but if you fail to pursue and enjoy God with a surrendered life, you will have missed God’s best. No one would consciously choose anything less than God’s best – but this is exactly what we choose when we don’t intentionally pursue God in complete surrender. You cannot afford to go through the motions of life without intentionally surrendering to God.
When you consider the magnitude of what happens each and every day as you interact with others, make decisions at work and home, you must remember that you are shaping eternity (for better or worse) in the seemingly insignificant events of every twenty-four hour period. Do you realize this? (Review 1 Corinthians 3:13 for a sobering reminder). The wisest thing you can do is begin your day by praying to God – while you are in bed, upon waking. But don’t stay there. Stay in bed and you run the risk of surrendering to sleep, rather than God. Surrender while in bed, and then get up and go, immediately, into your “secret closet,” your prayer closet, where you will intentionally pursue God with even greater passion.
There are many other things in life you could go after, but if you fail to pursue and enjoy God with a surrendered life, you will have missed God’s best.
Start each day surrendering to God, intentionally, for the next thirty days. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. But make every effort to set aside time, from the moment you awake, to intentionally surrender your life, that day, to God. The objective is not to become a Pharisee, but to be a surrendered servant of the Living and True God (1 Thessalonians 1:9), the God Who created you, loves you and bought you with the priceless blood of Jesus Christ. Begin praying in your bed, then get out of bed and enter your prayer closet to pursue God intentionally, surrendering yourself, completely, each and every time.
Intentionally dedicate your life, your day, your decisions, your time, resources, talents and activities – every molecule of who you are and what God has entrusted to you. Make it your ambition to truly enjoy Him by doing this every morning – before you do anything else. Do this for the next thirty days, and you will create an irresistible, positive habit that will revolutionize everything in your life – and you’ll wonder how you managed to live all this time without truly being alive.
In my next entry, we’ll explore what daily surrender looks like by bringing God’s matchless Word, the Bible, with you when you enter your closet.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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