by anonymous

Absolutely not. No way. That is the last thing I was able to do. Instead, fight until the end, until the last breath, yadda, yadda, yadda. 

I’m a guy who has been largely successful in my own little corner of the world. And while I’ve been a Christian for nearly 20 years, I have always thought that my victories have come by my own hands. Moreover, those victories have come simply because I wasn’t willing or able to surrender to whatever was trying to keep me down.

Sure, I could say the right thing and use the perfect “Christian” language when it came to wins and losses. Things like, “praise you in this storm,” and “the God of the mountain is the God of the valley,” are easy to say. But I didn’t really believe those things. I knew in my head that any accomplishment was the result of my hard work; any setback was simply because I didn’t work hard enough and my time was coming. 

Now, I’m smart enough to say that God already has the outcome in his hands. But, I never believed that; certainly I didn’t feel that in my heart. But, even though there was a gap in my relationship with Jesus, I often prayed for God to be loud when I was making difficult decisions in my life.

“God, sometimes I’m not smart enough to figure it out, I need you to be loud so that I don’t mess it up.”

And then, late in 2020, God was loud. His voice literally dropped me to my knees. And I hate incorrect uses of the word “literally,” so, I mean, I was on my hands and knees before the Lord in every sense of the phrase.

I’d like to give you some details here. Maybe you’ll hear them someday; maybe you and I have a conversation where I lay out exactly what happened and you can relate. Or you can’t, but you can find some pieces that might help you. However, in my experience, those details are inconsequential. Instead, realize that I was living a life that too many men are living today: one of dishonesty, false pride, and ego. In essence, I was absolutely surrendering to a God, but I was my own God.

Right now, you’ve got something in your life that is keeping you from Him. And while I’d like to blame [insert specific sin here], for me, it was more than that. I don’t care what your struggle is: addiction, lust, pride, anger, jealousy, etc. Ultimately, I think it boils down to the fact that our sin grows from an improper relationship with Christ. At least, that’s how it was for me. Specifically, the sin isn’t important. Instead, coming to grips with the all-encompassing truth that God is God and I’m not is what changed for me.

Plainly, I had been messing it up for way too long, trying to keep control, trying to do things my way, directing the narrative. And God needed to get at my heart because my path was going to get myself or people that I loved seriously hurt. 

Who am I kidding? People still got hurt. Relationships were fractured, jobs were lost, and trust was gone, all because I thought I had control. And when God took it back, I was helpless, hopeless, needing to rely on the only thing that could get me back up. Remember, I said God literally drove me to my hands and knees. Getting back up was step one.

My old self would say that I reached out to God and He picked my sorry tail back up. I know that’s not the case; I didn’t reach for anything. My old self would say that God gave me a push and I responded by following His course. Still, that’s far from the truth at my darkest time; I didn’t follow anything. I can take no credit for any semblance of success or redemption at that point in my life. I didn’t reach out, I didn’t follow closely, and I deserve no praise or credit for finding some stability again. I was a lifeless, pathetic, shell of a man. But God is God.

The truth is, the only thing I did was nothing. My only contribution to the process was submission. It’s oxymoronic, really. I did what I could have never done before: I quit. I found victory through giving up; through surrendering.

“I can’t, you can, please do.”

I surrender every morning now. Every. Single. Morning. Whatever the day holds, the task is, wherever God has me going, I repeat the same phrase during my quiet time.

And so, in the last year and a half, God has taken me through quite a journey. But, it’s all for naught if there isn’t any real change. So, what’s changed from my old self?

  • Daily time with my God is non-negotiable. I don’t miss it. Ever.
  • My family is second only to my God. I am desperate for more time with my boys and my wife. I have prioritized date nights, family walks, movie nights, and rides to and from school. 
  • My job is His, not mine. My status is second-class, even in my own organization, but that’s not important to me anymore. He put me here. I had very little to do with it. I’m just trying to get out of His way.

And you know, it’s tough, because those are just words. But, believe me, when I read those, the exact opposite was true prior to November of 2020. Like, try to reread those three simple bullet points and flip things around:

  • I got God in when I could, when it made sense, if I needed Him. I’d ride a winning streak for a couple of weeks but regress to the mean.
  • My family time was obligatory, a chore. And those obligations were burdensome.
  • My job was mine. I did it. I was good at it. Heck, I was God at it.

Where I used to listen to God’s advice and consider his suggestions, I now simply yield all authority and control to Him and watch Him work. 

So, what’s next? I’m not a smart guy, but I know that Jesus told us the two greatest commandments are to love Him and others. I’m in love with Jesus right now in a way that I’ve never been before. But, I need to love others well. So, as I alluded to, maybe something in this story resonates with you. Maybe you are realizing that while your sin manifests itself as X, ultimately, your improper relationship with Christ is the root of the problem. If that’s the case, you and I should grab a coffee and talk. You’ll be getting something off your chest, admitting your struggle to another man, which is important. And I’ll have the chance to follow Jesus’ second greatest commandment. It’s been said that God doesn’t waste our pain. Hopefully, like a calloused hand, my struggle has given me the strength to help in His name. 

But, how are you gonna contact me? If you’ll notice, my name isn’t attached to this. You can reach out to the guys at Core4Life and they can get me in touch with you. I made sure that my name was left off. This exercise would be a complete waste if even one person reached out to me by name and tried to give me any credit.

“Wow, you’ve really come a long way,” or “I’m so proud of you for how you turned things around.” That kind of stuff gets me in trouble. Trying to tell me that any progress or growth in my life is a result of my hard work or talent is a recipe for disaster. God has revealed truth to me: I am insignificant, I am small, and so, I surrender. 

John 3:30

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