As we near the end of this series on the eight stages of surrender, let me offer a quick summary of the various stages. Stage One is where we need to surrender our pride, the idea that “I can do it myself.” We may also need to surrender the tendency to hide our unworthiness (by justifying ourselves rather than confessing the truth about ourselves). In Stage Two we need to surrender either feelings of unworthiness or the comfort zone, both of which hold us back from spiritual progress. If you’re going to grow, you’re going to change. If a plant doesn’t change it will die. People often don’t want to change because they are comfortable where they are. But comfort zones are not conducive to spiritual growth.
The third stage confronts us with the need to surrender having to be right all the time, the need to be certain and to be better than others. Stage Four also calls us to give up the need for certainty, the need for applause, and a tendency toward perfectionism that can plague people in the “success stage” of faith. Stage Five, which comes during the dark night of the soul, calls us to surrender a false sense of purpose. Up until that point we had thought our purpose was solely from God, but we come to realize that it has been riddled with pride and a desire to please others. To the degree that we surrender our own sense of purpose, God can fill us with His.
Stage Six is the call to surrender negative thinking and hidden pride, things that can slow us down on our journey toward a true sense of God’s purpose in our lives. In Stage Five we discover we have not fully rid ourselves of the fear related to what other people are thinking about us. And finally, in Stage Six, we may need to surrender the other-centeredness that causes us to neglect ourselves and those we love.
I’m not here to tell you what you need to surrender today. I don’t even need to tell my wife what to surrender today. I know that she wrestles with things I don’t fully understand. But I believe that somewhere in these eight stages of surrender is God’s call to you. I invite the Holy Spirit to touch your heart with just that area of your life that needs to be surrendered today. And I suspect in most cases surrender is not a one-time action, it may need to be repeated over and over again until it sticks.
Surrender may turn out to be the hardest thing that you have ever done. Why? Because surrender feels like you are losing everything. You are giving up you identity, giving up that which gives you joy, giving up everything that you’re comfortable with and used to. It’s the loss of everything. However, the surrender of everything just happens to be the biblical path to your true self, which you will never discover until you surrender. Your true self appears when you let God grow you there. And that comes close to the meaning of this strange text: “For whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s, will save it.” That’s what surrender is all about.
Will continue with my review of Annual Council actions shortly