A couple of weeks ago on the weekend, I talked about three levels of surrender: surrender for survival, surrender for service and then lastly--and this is the Big One--the surrender of self, or self-denial. I'm believing (er...hoping) that's a process.
This last deepest step is the third surrender step: self-denial. We die to ourselves. This, as Jesus said, is when we pick up our cross and follow Him. And remember, a guy on the cross isn’t planning his future. There are no five-year-plans, no options, no keep-the-motor-running…I-may-back-out. It's "Come and die with me."
Paul, the bull-headed, strong-willed, my-way-or-the-highway zealot who found himself knocked down by the power of God, would years later write about that process in himself when he said: I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 Living Bible).
Later in that same letter, he again reminds them what his game plan is: As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in all the attractive things of the world was killed long ago, and the world’s interest in me is also long dead. (Galatians 6:14 Living Bible). That’s hefty. Paul is saying, "Not only do I not have any interest in this world, the world could care less about me. I’m a nobody…and I’m totally okay with that…because I’m dead. I’m only alive to Christ. I made the deepest surrender years ago."
If I would have had more time, I would have liked to unpack that a bit more personally. I don't feel like I'm anywhere near that...which is odd to say because if someone asked me if I was sold out to Jesus, I'd be quick to say "yes". But I'm not so sure. I still happen to care what people think of me. I still want to be noticed (in selective contexts!). I still want to be comfortable. In other words, I still have a long way to go.
But I'm afraid I even use that for an excuse.