By Julia Amting
Lately I’ve been reading the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I love this book because this incredible author attempts to explain Christianity in a sense that most of the many tragically divided Christian religions can’t help but agree with, no matter how passionately they are against all but their own. After many chapters of explaining why all facts and human tendencies point to the idea that there is one God, who instilled in us an innate sense of right and wrong, he goes on to emphasize (along with many other points) that since we are created by God, everything we are comes from Him.
“I am the vine and you are the branches, if a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me he can do nothing.” John 15:5
“A car is made to run on petrol, and will not run well on anything else. Now, God has made the human race to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”
Lewis goes on to explain how a car might run for a while with a different kind of fuel, but will only sputter to a stop. I think this is similar to how we try to “fix ourselves”. When we see a problem in ourselves, or even in others’ brokenness, we try to fix it. But we are mostly incapable of keeping ourselves running without God. The solutions we come up with ourselves never seem to really “work”, even if my independence often likes to think otherwise.
“Fallen man is not an imperfect creature who needs improvement, but a rebel who must lay down his arms.”
This is the solution that Lewis gives us to this problem. The secret to overcoming our human tendencies to selfishness and resistance to God is by surrendering those desires to God, to let Him strengthen you instead of trying to make ourselves good to please Him, to lay them at the foot of the cross. Because in reality, we please Him more by relying on Him, instead of trying to fix ourselves, our brokenness, and our faults.
A.W. Tozer words this much more eloquently than I can.
“We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections and believing that He understands everything– and still loves us.”
Many independent minded people would balk at the concept of surrender. I know I do. I’d rather have God be proud of my goodness than have to deal with my weaknesses.
But what if we chose to look at it in a different light. We are part of something so much bigger than we are. I fall in awe of the fact that the whole reason we function at all, the whole reason we can think, can move, can have being, can be anything that resembles independence, is God. He gave us all these things, He is the only way we have any capability to function at all. Why on earth do we struggle to surrender to this greatness that so far surpasses ours?
That is why arguing with God about His Plans, about how frustrated we are because we would lay out our lives differently than He does, is kind of ridiculous in theory. Every capability we have to argue, God has given to us. Like the clay arguing with the potter, who gave that clay any capability to be beautiful. That shows me how much bigger He is, how much bigger His plans are than mine. It kind of takes my breath away, and instills in me a renewed sense of comfort knowing that I am wrapped in that safety of a Higher Power, an infinitely good Father. Let us surrender our lives and our efforts to this great God, knowing that He gives the best things to those who trust Him, who surrender themselves to Him.
And once we truly allow ourselves to find rest in this assurance, we are filled with such a deep peace. Our hearts settle when we realize that we in fact, do not have to handle life’s obstacles on our own, that they are in the hands of a very capable God, who supplies us with our every need, and is beauty and love itself.