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?