In the summer of my 12th year of life, I learned the power and joy of surrender. It happened in Tacoma Washington at a community swimming pool high dive.
For two summers I had watched—in admiration and terror—my older cousin climb up those steps into thin air, walk out on a narrow bouncy board , and then jump into the cool water below. For a few agonizing seconds he disappeared in the deep end only to reemerge alive and whole, beaming with delight.
I had long avoided the high dive. I wouldn’t even come close to the deep end. But when my buddies—and even some girls—started plunging off the high dive, I knew I had to save face. Being un-cool was worse than plunging to my certain death.
On a hot day in the August, with my stomach reeling and my knees wobbling, I climbed what felt like 100 feet higher and higher in the air. As I walked out on the plank, everything within me said, “You fool, turn around and climb back down. You can still live!” But when I started to backpedal and looked over my shoulder, I saw the line of other kids waiting for their turn. I knew I had to jump.
Creeping to the edge of the plank, I looked over the edge, and I finally let go causing the board to bounce. Down I plunged, out of control slapping the water with my back. Like a stone, I sank lower and lower into my watery grave.
“So this is how i die,” I thought. Some people hit the water and never come back up. But then—surprise! I came up again, and I was alive! I was wet and dazed with a red back, but utterly alive! I was not only alive, but transformed, and liberated. I shook my head of wet hair and laughed even though my back stung like crazy. I had let go of everything and lived to tell about it. I was more alive than ever. I had experienced the joy of surrender.
Letting go and trusting in God’s love for you is central to your journey with Christ. I’ve talked with many discouraged people who are living for God’s love rather than living in God’s love.
4 Ways to Surrender and Live In God’s Love:
1. Stop Striving for His Love.
Francis Schaeffer once asked a rhetorical question, “How many finite buckets of good works would it take to fill the infinite gulf that exists between God and us because of our sin?” The obvious answer – never enough.
God loves you because God is love. He doesn’t love you more because you’re good and he doesn’t love you less because you fail.
2. Start Resting In His Love
If you want to have a deep, personal, satisfying, confident relationship with God, you’ve got to surrender control of your life totally to Christ. Make the choice to fully accept and claim His forgiveness and grace each day of your life.
3. Act in faith, not fear.
Human love demands meriting thus making it imperfect love. God’s love is not conditioned by our performance. His love is perfect.
Imperfect love triggers anxiety. Even our good friends, who love us, as well as they might, are incapable of loving us perfectly. And we ourselves, have never loved anyone as well as they should be loved. Consequently, we have contributed to the anxiety of others around us.
Only God, from whom we can hide nothing, fully knows us, and loves us unconditionally. John writes that His love casts out fear.
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:16-18 (NIV)
4. Exchange your perfectionism for God’s peace.
Jesus says in, Matthew 11:28-30 (CEV) 28 If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. 29 Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. 30 This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.
Perfectionism destroys peace. You’re going to fail a lot in life. But you don’t have to worry about it if you’ve received God’s grace.
Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives...Hebrews 12:14 (Phillips NT)
Just the other day I discovered this prayer.
Father God, I come into your presence so aware of my human frailty and yet overwhelmed by your love for me. I thank you that there is no human experience that I might walk through where your love cannot reach me. If I climb the highest mountain you are there and yet if I find myself in the darkest valley of my life, you are there. Help me to rest in that love that asks nothing more than the simple trusting heart of a child. In Jesus name, Amen