Today, I wrote a German essay titled "Was könnte ich für die Umwelt machen und warum", or "What I could do for the environment and why." I wrote a short ~300 words about recycling plastics, being environmentally considerate, and suggesting the ways I can subtract from my own ecological footprint. Many environmental scientists argue that the ecological footprint on Earth (human demand divided by available natural resources) exceeds the planet's capacity to provide. Simply, we are destroying the earth by our egregious demand for resources. As I researched the ways that recycling can reduce carbon emissions, there were many parallels I began to draw in my own life. Like the ecological footprint on Earth, there are things in my life I "demand" from God. While God's capacity to give is limitless, he chooses to give on his own terms, and that's often a concept I struggle to understand. When I treat God as someone who works according to my will, I (like the ecological footprint) begin to ruin the health of my relationship with him.
"Unsurrenderism" refers to a mindset I know all too well, one that chooses the path of surrender when it's of personal benefit. Unsurrenderism is the diagnosis given to the person who finds themselves giving all the control to God when it's most convenient instead of always. Unsurrenderism has the appearance of complete surrender, but maintains just a bit of control, just in case everything goes south. Unsurrenderism is the destructive attitude that wrestles the authority of the Almighty God, withholding complete trust in Him because the self-control that it takes to deny self of control seems illogical. Unsurrenderism is the Alias that has ruled my life and regulated the quality of trust I have in God, thereby governing my actions and quenching the Holy Spirit's power that only works in a fully surrendered life. Like the Alias of Self-Deception, Unsurrenderism deceives us into clinching onto our lives as much as possible instead of letting go completely. It deceives us into thinking that we have to grit our teeth and clench our fists until the outcome we desire for our life comes into fruition. The Alias of Unsurrenderism denies God the opportunity to teach us, and arrogantly tells God to "Stop trying to direct my steps, because I've got this." Unsurrenderism guarantees a relationship with God that cannot flourish the way God intends it to.
1. Unsurrenderism Makes It Impossible to Trust God
A common misconception about surrendering is that it's the weakest route, and is the last resort if all else fails. Submitting to authority, or giving an unresisting loyalty to another party, admits self-subordination. The only proper time to surrender to anyone or anything is when you can no longer stand on your own. Viewing surrender like this quickly turns us into leery, distrustful followers of Jesus. It turns wholehearted devotion into half-hearted, quiescent passivity.
In John 9, Jesus heals a blind man in one of his most unorthodox miracles. The man, who had been blind since birth, was plainly told by the Son of God to wash in the Pool of Siloam. A fairly simple task. However, the simple task followed a series of unsensible acts by Jesus. In an almost hilarious performance, Jesus spit in some dirt and rubbed the mud onto the man's face, telling the man to wash it off. What? Why didn't Jesus just tell the blind man to see again? Did Jesus want to embarrass this man before he was healed? Did he want the humiliate this innocent blind man? No. Jesus wanted the man to completely trust him. Jesus wanted him to surrender entirely, and step in the direction he was directed, then and only then being healed of his blindness. Must we be completely blind before we totally surrender to God? God works on his own terms, and waiting until it's easy or makes most sense to us to surrender isn't truly, completely surrendering. This man was healed of his blindness because he entirely trusted God to remain in control of his life as he surrendered to him.
2. Unsurrenderism Covets Life
Luke 9:24 states: " . . . whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." Life is precious, and I'm more inclined to preserve the things in my life than willingly let go of them. Instead of surrendering my health, circumstances, belongings, and relationships to God, I covet them and hold on as tightly as possible. I covet them, because I don't trust God to take care of them.
In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to willingly offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering, foreshadowing Jesus, God's only son, dying on the cross ~1800 years later. After God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have child in their old age, they were finally given Isaac. Then, God asks Abraham to give up Isaac, who was probably his most prized, valued belonging, his only son. Why would God do this? Why would God ever ask something so difficult and senseless? These are questions Abraham didn't ask. Instead, Abraham, in his complete, total surrender, woke up early the following morning and journeyed for three days to offer Isaac. Each step that Abraham took, each moment he continued walking toward Moriah, was deliberate surrender of his own will to God's. Surely Abraham did not want to give up the son he had fallen so in love with. Certainly Abraham had trouble wrapping his mind around why God would ask him to do something so difficult and heart-breaking. However, Abraham didn't wait until he understood God's command to surrender. Abraham didn't covet anything about his own possessions--not even his own son--that caused him not to trust God completely. Abraham immediately surrendered everything to God, even when it didn't feel right, even when he disagreed, even when it didn't make sense, even when he didn't want to.
Often times, I find myself surrendering to God in circumstances that don't require me to give up anything. I surrender to God when I agree that the outcome of my surrender will be most beneficial to me. It's in the times that I have to give up something I value, when I have to deny my deepest wants, that I struggle to completely surrender. There are things in my life that battle each other for my heart's devotion. If we covet life and the things in life instead of valuing God and his decisions, then Unsurrenderism begins to control our life, and we begin to resist God's control of our lives.
3. Unsurrenderism Glorifies Self Instead of God
Unsurrenderism redirects our view from the captivation and glory of God to ourselves, what we can get, how we can get it, how it will benefit us, and how great it will be. Instead of being concerned about glorifying God in our thoughts and actions, Unsurrenderism causes us to throw a hissy fit until we get what we want. Unsurrenderism dethrones God from his rightful seat and forces us to view everything through a selfish lens that's self-promoting and self-glorifying. When we succumb to the spiritual illness of Unsurrenderism, we are no longer concerned about the will of God, because we are only concerned with the will of ourselves. His glory only matters when we get what we want, but we are more concerned with our own fulfillment and glory than denying Self and surrendering.
When I have seasons like this in my life, it often takes God dragging me through the mud, blinding me of my sight, and reminding me of who I am without him before I remember how much higher he is than I am. When I elevate Self to the throne of God, I no longer surrender anything to God because a king does not submit to his subjects. A subject submits the king. And that is how it should be, and that's why I need to always view God as the King, and me as the subject. If I begin to view myself as the king, then I do as I please without considering the welfare of others or the will of God. If I am king, then my expectation is that others should do as I will. This is wrong and warps my view of myself and God.
Because God loves us, he continues to discipline us (Hebrews 12:6), and his discipline reveals our hearts and our motives. Because God is the ultimate doctor, his discipline will diagnose the Unsurrenderism in our hearts, and he will continue to show us His way until we are no longer blind. He will continue to have faith in us until we have faith in him. He will always lead us in the way he knows is best. All we must do is totally and completely surrender.