Three Taverns Church

The One Thing I Haven’t Surrendered

22 Comments

The following question was asked during my recovery group’s teaching time last night:

“What one thing have you not yet surrendered to God? Why don’t you think you have surrendered it?”

That is a tough question to answer honestly, especially in a room full of people! Imagine sharing the most vulnerable part of your life, a part you haven’t even really shared with God, with people you only see once a week. As is often the case with these kinds of questions, if one person has the courage to honestly share he will see other heads nodding along with him. We always think we are the only ones who suffer from a particular doubt or sin; in our isolation we forfeit the opportunities to learn from others, to help others learn from us, and to grow spiritually.

Last night I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to share with my group the ‘one thing’ I have not surrendered, and I feel Him urging me to share my ‘one thing’ with you, too. So here it is, the one thing I have not yet surrendered to God:

I do not believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is alive.

Yes, I have a kind of intellectual faith; I understand that I am supposed to believe (in my head) but I don’t really believe (in my heart). I feel like the father in Mark 9:24 who, when he asked Jesus to cast a demon out of his son, said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  (Mark 9:24, NIV) Though I have prayed this verse in asking God to increase my own faith with regard to the resurrection I have not surrendered it to Him.

To surrender something to God you must give up any and all pretense of control over the thing being surrendered. You pray, “God, I cannot do anything about this, I need you to take over. I give this up to you completely.”

Let me explain why I have not surrendered my unbelief to God.

Consider 1 Corinthians 15:7 (ESV): “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” I don’t want to be that guy so instead of surrendering to God I try to work harder at increasing my faith: I pray, I read Scripture, I pray some more. I am the classic case of someone trying to earn salvation, except in this case I am trying to earn the faith it takes to receive salvation.

Consider also that I tell everyone I am a Christian; I go to church every Sunday; I just graduated with a Masters in Ministry. If I don’t believe Jesus Christ is alive, who does? I am afraid if I share this doubt with others they will think I am a fraud. I feel like there is something wrong with me because I struggle with something that (seemingly) no other Christian has difficulty accepting. So, like an addict, I isolate myself and try to ‘fix’ myself rather than share my struggle with others.

Finally, consider John 20:27-29 (ESV): “Then (Jesus) said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'” I really don’t want to be this guy and get slapped with the label “Doubting Thomas”; instead I fake absolute certainty in the resurrection so everyone in my church believes that I believe. Furthermore, Jesus said those who have not seen and yet believe will be blessed, and I want that blessing, so I try to fake God out, too. If I pretend to believe hard enough, maybe He’ll buy it…like He hasn’t known about my doubt all my life.

The risen Jesus is all Christians have; without that we really are “of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor 15:19, ESV) I need to have the courage to tell God what He already knows: “I don’t really believe in my heart that Your Son is alive. Please help me believe.”

What is the one thing you have not surrendered to God? Why?

22 thoughts on “The One Thing I Haven’t Surrendered

  1. Great post. I wonder how many of us, if we really look inside ourselves, believe Jesus is alive. I have moments when I absolutely know. But many others where I must not because I’m living life like he is not. How different would the church be if we were all living in the knowledge that he’s alive?

  2. Thank you for posting. I saw a tweet a week or so ago that led to a post of yours – I subscribed. I’ve been intrigued and blessed. Some of your posts have hit me right between the eyes…and my heart.

    Why say all this other than I know it’s good to hear?

    I thought back on what initially “caught my eye”…what initially made me “click” on the link.
    I thought of the times where I knew it was God speaking to me through your words.
    I think of my own struggle with “Jesus, I’m your friend?” and prayers where I say “God, I want that friendship -I want to know and be known”. “Jesus, live your life through me – but get me totally out of the way of all you want to do through me”

    Those questions and prayers have been going on a long time. You’re not alone in the struggle of doubt and unbelief.

    What made me click on the link? I do know.
    In sharing your heart, God is speaking to others – and to you.

  3. Daniel Dennet gave a talk titled something like ‘Reasons to Believe in God’ – you can find it on youtube, and I think it might fit your situation. It seems you don’t believe in God so much as you believe in belief, that is, you have needs in your life that a belief system seems to meet. I hope you can figure this all out in a way that is healthy and puts you on the right path. For me, coming to the point where I could say that Jesus may or may not be alive, God may or may not exist – these things do not seem to make any difference in my daily life – I’m going to work on what I can control and improve myself.

    • Well, I would say that I believe in God, it’s the resurrection I struggle with. I want to believe, and I believe in my head, but I know there is a lot of room for my faith to grow.

      • In my opinion – which is different from the apostle Paul – the words of Jesus are the best part of the New Testament – a lot of other have to’s seem to have been added later. You know that Thomas Jefferson thought that the words of Jesus had been ‘perverted’ by Paul and other writers of the NT – he even made his own Bible by cutting and pasting the words of Jesus into a notebook – leaving out references to the resurrection and other miracles.

      • Yes, I am aware of the ‘Jeffersonian Bible’. I completely disagree, however, with picking and chooosing which parts of the Bible we want to believe. I agree that we need to use reason and common sense to interpret Scripture (taking things in context, etc.) but I think Jefferson was acting as an agent of his time when he disregarded the miracles of Jesus. I think there is too much anecdotal evidence to support Scripture and the resurrection…I’m just not ‘there’ yet…

  4. I understand. Just not sure why you’re trying to force yourself to feel something when you obviously have qualms about it. Always do what makes you healthy and whole.

    • Well, you’re right about one thing: I shouldn’t be forcing myself…that’s classic addict thinking. “If I just try a little harder I can ‘fix’ myself…” That’s why I finally had to surrender this to God on Monday…I want to believe that Jesus is alive with all my mind, heart, and soul, but I can’t get there on my own. I need His help.

  5. The issue of the resurrection will not be dealt with in written word but in the work of the Holy Spirit in you…in all of us as believers. Praise God that we don’t have only what is written on this earth.

    • Amen! Yes, I agree with you regarding the work of the Holy Spirit in me. I think that’s been my problem…my human striving for ‘faith’ has gotten in the way of the Holy Spirit’s work in me. The harder I ‘worked’ to believe the more I frustrated His efforts.

  6. Love the honesty, especially from someone who “just graduated with a Masters in Ministry.” Above anything else, what draws me to believe in those who call themselves Christians, and ironically in the One on whom we believe, is when His followers are honest enough with themselves and others in their weakness. We’ve ALL got ’em. We don’t all have the answers. That’s why its called faith! 🙂 Blessings!

  7. Pingback: Resurrection Reality « rabidmongoose

  8. I know there have been times for me when I wondered if I was a fool for believing because it IS simply a matter of faith. Then I remember david in the cave, after the Philistines had raided his camp and his own men wanted to kill him. the Bible says David, “encouraged himself in the Lord.” To me, that means remembering all the times I KNEW GOD was there with me, protecting me, providing for me, what HE has brought me through…then I remember HIS face and I am encouraged.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, “The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” GOD knows your fears and doubts.

    • Hi again John, and thank you for the encouragement! I agree with your understanding of that particular story of David. I often have to remind myself of all the times I know God was working in my life, so that I don’t get too discouraged or feel like I’m taking ‘crazy pills’.

  9. Weighing in late here, RM, but I thought this was an intriguing post and not a faith element that I have spent much time on. In response to American Secularist’s advice to not concern ourselves with whether Jesus is alive, or even if God exists, and instead to seek what makes us “healthy and whole”, I would say this: I’ve tried seeking what I thought would make me healthy and whole, what I desired and figured would make me happy. And as a result, I’ve made quite a mess of my life. I’ve lost so much that God gave me, because I put Him aside and put myself first. I still don’t think I’ve fully grasped how much I’ve screwed up my life, but I feel that, in acknowledging my failures and weaknesses and seeking God’s plan for my life, I am starting to put my life back on His track.

    • I’m not sure my comments about being healthy and whole were understood. I don’t know what your were pursuing that ‘screwed up your life’ so much, but I’m guessing it wasn’t health. Seeking status, wealth, career ‘success’ – not the path to wholeness. Giving of yourself to others, taking time to laugh and love, enjoying art and nature, good writing – you don’t have to be religious to do these things, but they will provide a rich, satisfying life. If you can find that at your local church – awesome. My main point was that you may not find peace with yourself by trying to conform to someone else’s ideas (and by the way picking and choosing favorite writings is exactly how the Bible was assembled).

  10. Hi Anonymous, thanks for the comment! I also spent many years of my life pursuing what I thought would make me healthy and whole. I was wrong. I’m beginning to realize now, however, that in pursuing status within a church the last few years I was again trying to make myself healthy and whole. I was wrong again.

    Surrender to God is the only path to true health and wholeness.

    • You know that the word ‘islam’ simply means ‘surrender to God’? I don’t think you can say surrender is the only path to wholeness – it may be one path, it may not be. It certainly isn’t the only one.

  11. Pingback: 2 Thessalonians 2-3 « american secularist

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