What does surrender look like?
Editor’s Note: In a nod to our Presbyterian heritage, we regularly feature a column from a PMMA® chaplain in our newsletter. This month’s column comes from Greg Schmidt, chaplain at Newton Presbyterian Manor.
I have an almost 2-year-old grandson named Zander. And while all of my grandchildren are just as sweet as they can possibly be, his little life tugs at Papa’s heart in a uniquely different way. Why? Because he’s had to face way too many challenges in his short-lived life.
First, we thought we might lose him to birthing-related complications. As he has grown older, he has had to go to orthopedic doctors and neurologists far too frequently. Then six weeks ago he fell and broke his left femur. Ugh!
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded again and again of two things. First, ours is an ever-present Father that loves us, lives in us and walks beside us no matter what challenges we face. And second, life is precious, fragile, and vulnerable … all at the same time! So, while I’m not sure how Zander’s life will turn out, I do believe God will lead, guide and instruct him as he chooses to yield the will and way of his heart and style of life to the Lord.
Perhaps the single greatest two questions all of us are challenged with are “Will I give my life to God?” and if so, “What will that surrender look like?”
It strikes me that Zander’s challenge is all of our challenge. The older ones of us are generally convinced we have faced way too many challenges. Life is difficult. And seldom do the challenges decrease. They only change over time.
Sometimes we either get lost or lose our vision. Be honest and answer this question: How often has your “vision for the future” been blurry or out of focus? If I said we sometimes suffer from “spiritual macular degeneration,” would that make sense? I think that is a painfully accurate metaphor to use in those moments when we discover that our world view is somewhat blinded or blurred for a myriad of reasons.
At some point in time every one of us needs spiritual, mental or emotional help. It’s really only a matter of when. We need people we can trust with our “inner” self. People that will guide, help and enable us to make wise decisions about how to walk and talk and give ourselves away to the world at our doorstep. You know, the stuff Jesus would do! And that’s when every one of us must say, “I, as broken and needy as I might be, need to help others. Invest in their struggles. Burdens. Go to my prayer closet and pour my heart out for my friend(s).”
Why? For the other? Perhaps. But mostly for me! I need to humble myself before Almighty God and ask how He might be able to use me to help others, because I want to fight fiercely against becoming self-centered! The best thing for my life is to stop navel-gazing (what happens when I stare at my own belly button instead of looking at yours!
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13; NIV) “This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you.” (John 15:3; Message)
Most of us are the opposite of Zander in terms of age, but we’re exactly the same when it comes to having seen too many doctors and heard too many diagnoses. Our lives are frail too. We’re all vulnerable. The difference is that we can make choices and direct our own lives! So, today, we need to choose to surrender to God’s vision for our lives! We, like Jesus, are present today to serve the world at our doorstep. And it’s in serving others that we discover inner peace and joy. Choose it. Put your life on the line for your “friends.” Follow God’s commands. And smile! Because you can!