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Friday, November 11, 2011

Introducing the Father, Part VI: Surrendering All

"I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Jesus, I surrender; I surrender all," we sing along with the rest of the congregation; but, are we aware that God is listening and will take us at our word? I have listened to folks recall times when they sang this song with knees trembling because they were afraid that God would believe them when they sang this song and ask them to go be a missionary in Africa! It made me smile each time I heard someone say this because I am a missionary in Africa and was when I heard their stories! My very first time in the West African country, which would become my home for decades, a Canadian missionary family had invited us over for supper. After the meal, we gathered to sing songs together. One of the songs the husband of the family sang to us was "Please Don't Send Me to Africa!" by Scott Wesley Brown. Take a listen to this song if you haven't; it is so funny—or, at least, it is if you happen to be a missionary in Africa already! If not, you might fear that God might send you there one day, too!

Let me assure you that it just doesn't work like that! If God is going to send you to Africa when you are ready to move into that part of the plan He has for you, the decision to send you had been made long before you were old enough to be afraid of going!

Don't be afraid to surrender all! You are surrendering to the Father God Who created you and one must ask, "How can you make a better life for yourself than He can?" That doesn't mean that you will have all the material possessions and opportunities that money can buy here on earth; but, then, even modern history shows us that those who have only everything it is possible to have here on earth are not happy or at peace. So many of them end up taking their own life because of the emptiness inside. With God, there will never be that emptiness as we follow Him through this journey. But, life will not be a rose garden either because that paradise awaits us at the end of a successfully completed mission! First, let's do the job we were placed here to do!

Easy for you to say, Sojourner, God rescued you all those times and now you are old; but, it is different for me. Life is hard.

Alas, dear Reader, I have given you the wrong impression of my own "surrendered life." Let me just rush to say here that life is hard for all of us who are on this journey, though the exact details may vary, life was created to be hard in this world. The real tragedy is that many people are walking through this difficult path without the benefit of the greatest resource offered to man… a personal relationship with the only one Who can make the way straight for us! Without the Lord directing, providing and protecting us; without knowing that whatever happens to us, He has His eyes upon us and can step in at any time; without a deep sense of the truth that God is the one in control of our surrendered life, life is just totally empty and fear an ever-present companion. I am not talking from a life basking in the rose garden of ease here, though so I should clue you in just a bit.

When I had been in fulltime missionary service for ten years, the Lord asked of me something that is rarely asked. Since I had surrendered every part of my life and, often said when I had a particularly painful disease or injury that this included every cell of my body, I never experienced the depression so common to someone who loses their eyesight. Over a period of about three weeks, without any obvious reason for it, the lights just went out and stayed out. Only about three percent of all the people considered to be "blind" actually have not a single ray of light in their vision. I am amongst this unique group of visually disabled folks. Over the seventeen-plus years that followed, I remained at my mission post in Africa, 6 years of it lived in the jungle of West Africa with snakes and panthers, etc. (Yup, you guessed it, some of the stories of this "blind in the jungle" time are recorded in our book, Dealing with Our Fears when Letting Go Seems Impossible!) During that time I suffered two bouts with that excruciatingly painful mosquito-borne disease, Dengue Fever and one very miserable disease called, Relapsing Fever, that comes from soft-shelled ticks and, as the name implies is characterized by "relapses". I struggled through this most awful illness six times in the course of two months. But, in spite of the constant presence of poisonous snakes my blindness never resulted in one single snake bite over those years. I did suffer one very painful scorpion sting but, obviously, it was not fatal! So why did God rescue me from all the times I could have died only to let me live as a totally blind person?? There are a lot of folks who have proposed all kinds of reasons but I know that there is only one answer: It is necessary for me to complete the purpose for which God has put me on this earth! YES, I would love to be able to see right now!! But, His grace is sufficient to carry me through life without seeing it. I do still cry and get frustrated because it is really hard to live as a blind person, but I am constantly assured that it was my choice to surrender to God. When the blindness happened I came to the Father and asked Him what I had done to get myself into such a position. His answer was very clear to me, though it was not audible: You have done nothing. Will you trust Me? I cannot recall the exact words that followed off the top of my head just now as I sit at the computer but I do remember that I had the sense that it was my choice to walk through this trial or not. But, I also knew that God does not waste lives and never does anything without a good reason so, I reckoned with myself, if the Father thinks that this is necessary to accomplish what He had planned, then I will trust Him. I had not heard Him speak audibly, but the interaction was so intensely "there" that I spoke audibly when I said, "Yes, I will trust you; but, I know for sure I cannot do this without You!" God continues to be with me and there is just not time to give you the details of what God's grace has brought to my life during all of these years!

So, as you can see, I have times when I was rescued and times when I had to walk through the trial. In all cases, I have not regretted surrendering my life to Father God and His purpose! It is a "no brainer" in this chaotic world, really. There is no one else who could take care of me the way He does!

Don't worry about this happening to you should you decide to "surrender all"! It doesn't mean that He will insist that you become a missionary in some foreign, under-developed country or that you give up one of your five senses. God knows us, individually, and knows the details of just what is needed to complete each mission! Surrendering to the Father is the best way to successfully complete this sojourn! It is the one way to joy and peace in the midst of trial and chaos.

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**** Answers to Questions Coming Tomorrow

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