I’ve been reading the book When God Writes Your Life Story, by Eric & Leslie Ludy, and I am just blown away. I’ve known for a while that the Christian life is surrender, but somehow the depth of it never hit me until last night as I was sitting in bed, waiting for my husband to finish an after-hair-cut shower, reading a few pages.
They went to the lives of several spiritual giants from the past–Hudson Taylor, Dwight Moody, Oswald Chambers, among others–and shared how these men had all come to the point of realizing that their religion was powerless and empty. At the point of desperation, they realized that they were still in control of their lives, that God was merely their hired servant, coming to fulfill their bidding, to carry out their plans. And they made the choice to give all, to surrender entirely everything they were.
I would like to quote from the couple of pages that struck me the most:
So how did this amazing transformation happen for these men and women of God? Just what is the secret to a victorious Christian life that each of them discovered?
It was an exchange.
An exchange of the most dramatic and life-altering proportions.
They gave up their very lives in exchange for the very life of God. They allowed their bodies to be taken over, like a town surrendering to the invasion of a foreign power. They allowed their being to be possessed by a Spirit so holy, so pure, so righteous, that any remnant of selfish sin was burned away with the fire of God’s perfect presence. They relinquished complete and total control of their lives to their King, for Him to dispose of as He saw fit. They invited the most divine Guest into the center of their existence and said, “Make this humble stable your princely palace, O holy Lord!”
They each made an exchange. . . . They exchanged life as they new it for life as God knew it should be.
They exchanged the right to do with their bodies however they saw fit for the life of a servant who only does what the Master requests.
They exchanged their dreams and ambitions for God’s great and dramatic plan for their lives.
They exchanged a life ruled and controlled by sin for a life victorious over sin, clothed with joy and triumph.
Such is the secret of every great man and woman of God. It’s the solemn exchange of a humble human life for His majestic holy life. 1
Listen to how Walter Wilson, a respected young Christian physician from the early 1900s, expressed his surrender:
Lord, I give you my this body of mine; from my head to my feet, I give it to You. My hands, my limbs, my eyes, my brain; all that I am inside and out, I hand over to You. Live in and through me whatever life You please. You may send this body to Africa, or lay it on a bed with cancer. You may blind my eyes, or take me with Your message to Tibet. You may take this body to the Eskimos, or send it to a hospital with pneumonia. This body of mine is Yours alone from this moment on. 2
I finished the chapter just as my husband came to bed, and as he turned out the light, I rolled out of bed and knelt to pray. As I knelt there before God, the words I had just read started running through my mind, and I realized that the life I have been seeking had just been described–and it was a life of slavery. Being a bondslave of God forever.
In the Old Testament, there was a ritual mentioned about a servant who wanted to stay with his master and never be free. Normally a servant would serve for 6 years or buy his freedom. But a servant could freely choose to remain with his master forever–meaning until he died. As a sign of this, his master would take an awl and bore his ear through onto the doorpost of his house. This hole in his ear was a symbol of his submission for life to his master. See Exodus 21:2-6
There is no Biblical account of any servants ever making this kind of submission to their masters, but the story is there for a reason. You see, there was One whose ear was pierced, symbolically.
Mine ears has Thou opened . . . I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.
The Lord God hath opened Mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. 3
It is obvious from the context that both of these verses are speaking of Jesus. What is not obvious is the connection to the ear-piercing ceremony. Strong’s Concordance tells us that the word “opened” in these two verses means “pierced.” Do you see the implication?
Jesus was a slave of God. He sought only His Father’s will, not His own.
And He is our Example.
All of this flooded over me last night and I knelt before God. And suddenly I realized I had to get up and write in my prayer journal. I wanted to keep a record of what was going on in my mind. Here is part of what I wrote:
I am to be a slave, with no will of my own.
Paul called himself a slave of Jesus Christ. This is what I must be. A bondservant. My highest aim must be His will.
Wow. That means I consult Him about every decision. This doesn’t mean He will always tell me what to do. He is my friend and calls me a friend, not a slave. But I must make no decision on my own.
Am I willing to take this plunge?
I guess I liked the word “surrender” better. Slavery seems so final. But this is what I must do. I must have my ear opened, or pierced, as Jesus did, and learn to delight to do my Father’s will.
Am I willing?
I want to–but I am afraid. Why? Because it is so … final. Being a bondslave is not something one could ever get out of. It lasted until death.
But I should rather focus on the joy that this surrender brings. Especially when I consider that Romans 6 teaches that we are all slaves–either to Satan or God, sin or righteousness. We cannot serve two masters, but we certainly always have one.
Which means that when my master is self, it is really Satan.
And that means I am bound for hell.
Lord, if I do this, You will have to remind me frequently. I am not in the habit of seeking Your will moment by moment. But You have begun a good work in me, and if I cooperate, You will finish it.
All right. I am Yours. All of me. Take my body and do with it as You will. Take my mind and fill it with love for You and zeal for Your Will. Take my hands and use them to minister Your glory. Take my feet and send them where You will. Take my tongue and bridle it. Tame it, that it may only speak words that will glorify Your name. Take my heart, cleanse it, and come dwell in me. Take my eyes and ears, that they may only see and hear what will honor You. Take my appetite and subdue it. May I let only what You permit pass my lips. Take every last piece of me. I am no longer my own. I am bought with a price. Praise be to God.
Can you sense the struggle? I have surrendered so many times, but it seems that in the back of my mind, many times subconsciously, there was a caveat, a condition that I would have the option to go back to the old way if it didn’t work out. But I had tasted the old way, and I was tired of it. I wanted something more. But as I wrote those words of surrender, a peace flooded over me. I put the book away and quietly went to bed. And I woke this morning with a hunger for God. And I felt led to write out this testimony during my quiet time. I wasn’t sure why at first–normally this isn’t something I would do during my devotional time–I rarely use the computer and try never to use the Internet. But now I understand. Something about going over it again has strengthened my desire, deepened my decision. I have yielded myself to the King of kings, and I will serve Him from this day forward. Praise the Lord!
1. Eric & Leslie Ludy, When God Writes Your Life Story, 68, 69
2. V. Raymond Edman, quoted in When God Writes Your Life Story, 70
3. Psalm 40:5, 8; Isaiah 50:5