“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. … John 15:1-7
You know what I see that we do a lot when we don’t want to truly change for the better, eradicate a besetting sin out of our lives, or make a heart change that is a real indicator of true repentance (the all the way kind)?
We take, and maybe even apply the parts of what we feel halfway comfortable with, in order to “allow for change”, yet we discard much of the rest of what is truly required to allow the Lord to do the job completely.
When we do this, we are still in a state of resistance, not surrender. And we can become very, very good at telling ourselves that is not what we are doing!
- We tell ourselves little lies and walk in the halfway kind of ownership and surrender that is required to truly allow the Lord to “make all things new”, conform us to His likeness, and “work all things together for our good.”
- We pick and choose what we will face up to and then reserve the right to customize just how we will go about dealing with that problem.
- We find ways to make excuses for how this or that is not “working for us” and even go so far as to blame shift and hide beneath scripture we take out of context to justify ourselves in continuing to run.
We do that because we have not TRULY surrendered. And when we do this, we don’t see real change.
You see – most of the time, true surrender is a grueling process. Believe you me, this gal fully understands that because she is the QUEEN of not having mastered surrender!
But, so much of the time, if we really take a long, sustained, hard look, with a REAL desire to face the REAL AND WHOLE truth, we will see that we hang on and we grip very tightly to at least some form of control all the way to “the end.”
We like to do surrender halfway, man. Because it isn’t stinkin’ comfortable.
- We want comfortable change.
- We want comfortable accountability.
- We want comfortable love, comfortable submission and comfortable truth in our lives.
- We tell ourselves and others we want surrender, but the truth of the matter is sometimes, we just want it to be as comfortable as possible. Or at the very least, we want for it to be less UNCOMFORTABLE.
And sometimes – if we continue to walk in that for too very long, we then start to become people who profess our total commitment to Jesus, but are teetering on the edge of really just walking in a comfortable form of Christianity. And being a follower after Jesus Christ is not comfortable!
When we come to a place where we realize we are still reserving some form of control over our situation and not fully submitting, displacing ownership, blame shifting, and being the victim instead of submitting to the Lord, then we finally reach the place where we are in a state of surrender and the Lord CAN AND WILL WORK.
- This place understands that the full truth and full self confrontation is nothing to try to run from – because God sees it all anyway.
- This place understands that forgiveness is freely given, but restoration is conditional and requires full submission.
- This place stops shifting blame and hanging on to control and looking at everyone else, and starts owning the truth.
- This is the place that allows us to FINALLY START TO WALK in a struggle that is REAL, but one in which we are truly not alone and have the Lord fully on our side!
Because we open the door and let Him in. All the way in. He could knock it down- but in my life- He hasn’t. He waits for me to say “yes – come in and come ALL the way in.”
We’ve all been through a war like I just described above – I venture to guess we will all go through one again. What I find interesting, is that those habits and tendencies die hard. Each new challenge or trial that I face causes me to see that I am still struggling anew with true surrender.
But thankfully, I am on to myself now. I know I can tend to want to go halfway when it comes to surrender. I am aware of the fact that I tend to reserve some form of control over matters when it is necessary to fully let go. And I realize that letting go doesn’t mean that I stop doing my part – sometimes, letting go means discontinuing doing the part I decide to do for myself, and STARTING to do the parts that I wasn’t doing that God WANTS for me to do.
We don’t get to just say we have surrendered and not do anything. We have to walk in it. Really WALK.
So the process often isn’t as long and drawn out now when I see that there’s a new need for surrender again. But it will always be a struggle.
It just will.
And this whole constant cycle is indicative of just how much our flesh and our minds fight and war against facing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Facing the truth and displaying a true willingness to do whatever it takes to allow the Lord to change things, is necessary for true repentance. Facing that truth – all of it – (yes, even when it’s ugly), and truly submitting ourselves to the Lord, (all of our selves, sin and all) allows God to work through our imperfections and shortcomings SO THAT we can become more like Christ.
I’m here to share this with my friends today as clearly as I possibly can – In my own little life, I have seen – God doesn’t do His best work in us when we are only willing to surrender halfway. But He WILL be there for us all the way through things- EVEN WHEN we haven’t fully surrendered yet.
He is patient. But He truly doesn’t want to see us wrestle with this over and over again. I’m sure He often wonders “why are you making this so hard on yourself?” But the process is important, otherwise, He probably wouldn’t allow it in the first place.
You see….. Jesus LOVES us even while we are still sinners. Jesus went to the CROSS for us because of His love for us. But until we truly accept not only the free gift of salvation because of all that He did on that cross for us, but also desire to truly walk in a submitted and surrendered manner with Him, we really aren’t allowing Him to be the center of our lives. The truth is, when we don’t fully submit to Him, we are still in the driver’s seat. And we will probably never experience the FULLNESS of the joy, love, peace and freedom He so desires for us NOW until we reach that place.
That place is a place of UNCOMFORTABLE AND TOTAL surrender. But it is a beautiful place to be.
He will still love us when we are not going all the way and when we are lying to ourselves and not truly submitting. He will still love us, warts and all. But we will never be in the kind of relationship with Him that He intends for us if we continue to hold on to our sin and the lies we tell ourselves and continue to fool ourselves with all this comfortable Christianity, comfortable submission, and comfortable surrender.
Halfway just doesn’t cut it if we want real and intimate relationship. He wants all of us. He truly wants the whole deal. Meeting Him halfway is not abiding – not truly. And it causes a separation in our relationship with Christ. We can’t just hang out on the vine and pretend we are connected and tell ourselves that we can actually bear fruit that way.
We have to cling to the vine. And often, we wanna go our own way when it suits us, but continue to profess that we never left. It’s just what we do sometimes. And fruit eventually stops growing even when we part way separate ourselves from the vine. It’s just the facts, jack.
Even if and when we DO attempt to die to our flesh and the war that goes on within our hearts AND our minds, we will struggle, make no mistake about it! But we can stop layering our own extra crud – I like to call it the “crud of resistance” (LOL!) all over the top of that innate struggle, and it will help matters. We have to realize and stop only going halfway with this type of stuff. We add to the battle when we do this, and it makes the “process” oh-so-much- harder.
- It prevents surrender.
- It prevents true change.
- It results in halfway relationships – ones that aren’t truth.
- And that includes our relationship with our very own Savior.
If we meet Him where we are at – and come to Him in FULL honesty, He will realize we at least want to submit, but that we are struggling and we need HIS HELP. He knows the truth anyway. So why would we try to hide it?
We can cry out to the Lord and tell Him we want to fully surrender, but we realize we are struggling and still clinging to our own form of control. We can ask Him to do whatever it takes to break that down within us. It’s a hard prayer to submit to the Lord, even. But if we truly mean it in our hearts, He will deliver.
It may be hard…
It probably won’t be comfortable…
But in the end, it will be SO VERY worth it.
Surrender your heart to God,
turn to him in prayer,
and give up your sins—
even those you do in secret.
Then you won’t be ashamed;
you will be confident
and fearless. Job 11: 13-15