Jolly yes, I recently finished my first academic year in Moi University and am glad, relieved and grateful (Not necessarily in that order) Glad because it feels great to advance to the next season of life. Relieved because it was a tad of a roller coaster. Grateful because I made it out alive, still saved and my principles in check. Not because am that awesome but because God… He kept and preserved me for sure. As I was going back home on that 6 hour (give or take ) journey from Eldoret to Nairobi I remember musing about how for the first two months I felt unprepared about moving from within the boundaries of Nairobi to the middle of nowhere in Eldoret.
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.” –NIV
There are times when change abruptly shows up or it may be that we have to adapt and that means changes have to occur. Seasons in our lives come and go and many are the times we are apt to clam up in a shell. We just cannot perceive what God has in store for us at such a time as that. We almost feel like it is a mistake and we just do not understand it. It can be in our careers, our families or even the ministries we serve in. Now, having gone through an academic year and emerged a better person the fact that God does not make mistakes is a truth that rings more soundly in my heart. God does not take us to places or change aspects of our lives just for the fun of it. Jeremiah 29:11 affirms us that God has a plan and it is a very good plan. We need to trust that the creator of the universe, the one who gave His only son to die for us while we were yet sinners then called us into a love relationship and sealed the deal with abundant grace and now calls us friends, Emmanuel, has us in mind. Like Esther, who knows whether you have been placed in that position/company/organization/school/country at such a time as this?
Amidst all the lessons and experiences within that period of my life, two things really stood out for me.
THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity- ESV
Friendship is an important extension of our lives. I remember among the things I was apprehensive of as I moved to school in Eldoret was this thing called making friends. Of course, I was not going to go through four academic years of my life a loner…and generally, I am not a people-person. I do not dislike people I just find the process of making friends a tasking thing. I do enjoy the company of the current friends in my life, am just not the eager-to-make-new-friends kind of person. Those were the kind of thoughts running through my head. So moving from the confines and comfort of home where I was content with the friendships I had forged was a struggle. Contrary to my fears, God knew whom I needed in my life and He made it happen in such a way that I did not have to work to find the people I needed in my life at that season.
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you-NKJV
The foundation of Christian friendship generally starts with God. God is fundamentally relational and the friendliest being I have met and read about. Before we even begin to think about our human relations, the fundamental thing is having a friend in God. God is the best friend we could ever possibly have. Later on, it dawned on me that part of why it felt hard to move to a new place is because I overly treasured the opinions and advise of my closest friends. Am not saying that listening to our God given friends is wrong, am saying that God is not meant to be the third wheel. We get so used to confiding in our friends we forget that God wants to share in those moments too. He desires that we include Him in making those important decisions in our lives. He desires to share in our low moments when things go south but only if we allow Him to.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me- ESV.
Yes, our friends are vitally important but it is necessary to constantly keep in mind that God ought to be the ultimatum.
The beauty of being a Christian is that we have Christ as our model. We do not have to struggle with the intricacies of being a good friend or offering true friendship. If we need to know how to go about friendships, we simply need to look up to Christ. He is in fact the total package of what friendship is meant to look like. Christian relations have been forever transformed because though Christ was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. He dwelt among us and experienced joys, sorrows, pains, laughter and friendships. Everything we experience then is transformed into something divine because Christ has also shared in it. In Christ, our friendships find a true and deeper meaning.
Check out Philippians chapter 2
THE WORSHIP OF SURRENDER
Christ says give me all. I do not want so much of your time, and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good… hand over the whole natural self, all the desires, which you think innocent, as well as the ones you think wicked-the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself. My own will shall become yours – C. S. Lewis
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service- NKJV
For some period in my walk, total surrender felt almost impossible. Mostly because my perception of surrender was faulty. Surrender for one is a gradual submission. Day by day, one-step at a time. Paul talked about surrender in Romans 12:1. He urges that we submit ourselves to God. Not our situations. Ourselves. We are prone to surrender things to God (our situations and circumstance) rather than ourselves. Surrendering self is allowing God to do in you what is necessary to give Himself glory and transforming you into the person He is after. You cease to be in control of every aspect of life. It is not a matter of once in a while letting God in rather it is a matter of God already being in and Him working out that reality. Surrender is less about letting God in and more of kicking ourselves out.
Check out Luke 9:23-25
Sure, the whole notion of surrendering our autonomy is not a walk in the park in. C. S. Lewis says, to surrender a self will inflamed and swollen with years of usurpation is a kind of death yet this is what Christ said we are to do ( Luke 9:23-24) and furthermore became the model of self-giving we could look up to.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does the son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”-NKJV
At the heart of Jesus’ complete surrender to His Father was a pattern of love. He knew and was confident in the love God had for Him hence he was not submitting to God’s power but responding in submission to the love He was sure of. Surrender is a tedious affair when we take it up as an obligation. When we have it in our hearts as something we have to do for God. It becomes lip service when we are singing William McDowell’s song, I surrender all to you, everything I give to you withholding nothing yet our hearts are far from God. When we treat surrender like something we have to accomplish, it will become tedious, weary and impossible.
We need to take a step back and realize that God truly loves us. We are the heartbeat of His heart. We need to take a step back and let it dawn on us that we are nothing without God, that we truly did not deserve Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary’s tree. That we did not deserve the grace that was handed to us in love. That we no longer have to earn God’s approval because we already have it. We are forever loved and forgiven. When we perceive that reality, it should break our hearts and allow control to the one who calls us friend. What overflows from our hearts that have been broken and transformed is authentic worship that engineers surrender. God loves you.
If we get graded on a curve, who is worthy of Gods favor? If He is righteous and just and the wages of sin is death. The only way for us to live is if someone perfect dies for us. How else can the spiritually lifeless rise from dust? From the worst to the least of sinners. The truth hurts but let it simmer until your soul surrenders control. The goal of faith is to believe that we need to be saved and then rejoice knowing that our savior came. Died in our place and His sinless life was raised from the grave. Our sin is death; Christ is life- Surrender by Beautiful Eulogy.