We’re taught that dependence is weakness.
Independence is sovereign. Self is king.
Believe in yourself.
Pick yourself up.
Pull yourself together.
We’re daily conditioned to just ’do us’ - to unflinchingly live the life of self. To go with your gut, shoot from your hip, decide your destiny. To be successful isn’t to be dependent - it’s to be in control. Dependency is a declaration of weakness, a clear sign of deficiency.
Because of course, I am the captain of my soul.
The centre of my universe.
I must fight this lie every day in prayer.
Issues grow, as they do, like weeds into my life, and my peace is quickly scattered. I allow myself to be pushed and pulled in a dozen different directions as life becomes a high stakes game of whack-a-mole. Decisions press ever harder to be made, conflicting perspectives buzz around my head and the threat of the unknown looms on the horizon.
Overwhelmed, I begin to panic.
But instead of surrendering to God and trusting in His sovereignty, I go mute, and silence separates us. I decline the offer to meet with Him in His word and I try to fix everything on my own. I just need to back myself. Go with my gut, shoot from my hip, decide my destiny.
Half-living as if God is my strength and half-living as if I am my strength is one of the most miserable things a Christian can experience. For a Christian to scurry about a life not lived for Him, with Him, through Him every day, is for a flower to deny the sun.
Of course, there is no way for me to ignore this truth, to not see why life has become so grey. I surface to meet God and gasp for breath briefly in prayer, only to plunge back down into icy isolation. An exhausting cycle of bobbing up and down between whichever source of strength I have more trust in at that moment; my ability to take the reins of my issues by myself, or the faithfulness, sovereignty and outstretched hand of God.
I must stop, surrender and step out into the void beyond my self, into the place from where His hand beckons.
It is the place I was born to be. The space in which I was designed to dwell.
Because where the world cries “You’ve got this!”, the Bible reveals that the only way into real, fruitful living and intimacy with God is through the total surrender of self.
Complete, unwavering, absolute surrender.
We must empty ourselves into the dust - our control, pride, ego, ambitions and agendas - and build a new life which confirms our belief that He is King, not me. Recognising that the strength to face our issues really is found in God, taking each day to Him on our knees and asking for His help. Wholly acknowledging that we can’t do it on our own and wrestling with Him in our vulnerability and helplessness.
This is not reeling off a list of deliverables for God to meet in order to make our circumstances a little more palatable, our lives a little more comfortable. It is not generating default blanket prayers to cover all the bases of our projected needs - vague shots in the dark for undefined ‘blessings’. God isn’t a helpful add-on to support our independent living - an optional plugin to make life work better or unlock enlightenment. Surrendering to Him isn’t a toe in the water or a hopeful Hail Mary in the midst of an unchanged life.
It is the complete abandonment of self.
Done. Finished. Dead.
Any other understanding, even held subconsciously, will shrink our appreciation of the impossible vastness, inconceivable personhood and incomparable holiness of the living God down to nothing more than the miserably small picture of a personal genie who might every so often spit out a little treat to make our independent living a bit better. It is a woefully inadequate awareness of God and approach to relationship with Him that will sap a life of its joy.
Because we were never designed to be in control, the captains of our souls. God has never just been a facilitator of our will. He isn’t good because He sometimes delivers the things we ask for and bad if sometimes He doesn’t. He is good because He is God. We are not the masters of our destiny, no, but what we are is far better - beloved children of the King. We are the manifestation of an overflowing of the glory of God, lovingly designed to reflect that glory.
Unbelievably, against all the odds, God wants you to talk to Him. He wants you to know Him. He wants you to lay the desires of your heart before Him. The Maker and Sustainer of all things wants you to live depending on Him! Not to go it alone, fearing Him as a tyrannical divinity, but to enjoy Him in the same intimate way a child would their father. He longs for us and delights in lavishing His love on us, not because we deserve it, but because of who He is.
Why would we ever want to live independently of that? Would a flower ever wish to live independently of the sun? Of course not! How can we go on living in denial of who He really is, and waste one more moment of this impossible opportunity that we have to know Him? How can we have the audacity to see Him as a nuisance? Getting in the way of our fun. A duty to fulfil before bed. How can we pray like He is nothing more than a blessing vending machine?
But still He runs to you. Still He offers to carry you through your struggles. To hold you. To pour out His unending love on you.
You must surrender to Him. You must search your heart to determine whether or not you really believe the truth about Him. To examine your life and challenge your motivations to discover if they are at all positioned in response to this belief.
Once you welcome the Holy Spirit to soften the hard, self-reliant places of your heart, everything falls into place. Your true purpose and priorities sharpen into bright focus. You wake, shaking your head in bewilderment that an independent life had ever been desirable. Amazed that you would ever want His blessings without wanting Him.
Abandon your self.
Surrender to Him.
You can’t hold your life together and you don’t need to. Prayerfully submit to the careful control of Him who is all kind, all knowing, all good. Really trust Him. Get face to face with Him and cry out that you just don’t have it in you to just ‘do you’. Accept your weakness and give it to Him. Confront it and let it go. He has you. Stop wandering around in the aimless circles of independence, and tell Him that you are His, to do with as He pleases.
This simple obedience will change your life.
It’s only when we drop the pretence and come face to face with Him, that we are able to see Him most clearly. In those prayers where we stop chasing meaningless control, open our hands, close our eyes and start declaring, ‘Here I am, Lord. I trust you, have your way in me.’ When we step out into thin air. Only in that empty space of free-falling surrender does He bring true freedom.
So today, wherever you are, whatever you’re dealing with, know that you have a Father who loves you more than you could ever know, a Saviour who has bought you with His life and a Spirit who is making you new. When we really, truly accept this reality, we can allow ourselves to be weak. Because we then know that what we already have in God is so much better than the best we could ever hope to be on our own. We can stop striving to do, and instead ask. We can call out for help, hand over control, surrender self, and in His arms be truly free.
You don’t want to live a life of self.
It’s miserable. Surrender it.
Live a life of Him.