Every branch in me (Jesus) that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. -John 15:2 ESV
If you are a crafter, you understand the need for storage. Each new craft idea accumulates ribbons, beads, and paint, along with other odds and ends. About a year ago, I decided I wanted to add shelving to my office to help keep things organized. I immediately began a search on Pinterest for office shelving solutions and settled on an idea. That same week, I purchased all the items needed to complete the project, selecting four white, cube shelves to match my desk. They would hang along the back wall horizontally, adding storage above my desk.
Well, those shelves didn’t get much use. They were nestled in the guest room collecting dust. I had set aside the project and told myself I would get to it. As the weeks passed, my office grew in clutter. While I really could have used extra storage space, the project required time and effort I was not ready to give. After a full year of procrastination, my husband and I finally hung up the shelves, and what a difference they made in the function and look of the space! Now, when I walk into the room, a sense of relief, and calm satisfaction washes over me. I wish I did not let the shelves sit useless for a year. All that time I was missing out.
Sometimes I think we can make the same mistake in our walk with Christ. We accept salvation from eternal separation from God, but we fail to recognize the freedom He offers us now. I have heard people say, “As long as I make it to heaven, I’m good.” In the meantime though, they are blind to the suffering they endure because they have never experienced true freedom. The moment of our salvation is the beginning of a journey with Christ where He will begin to transform us into His likeness. Our freedom is paid for, ready, and available; we just need to take hold of it. Sin no longer has a hold on us but we still need to choose to move forward.
To be clear, I am not talking about salvation. Faith in Jesus alone is what saves you, but we have an active role in our transformation. God is the perfect gentleman; He will not take something unless we surrender it. The problem is, we have been living so long in our sin that we have become comfortable in it. It is easier to continue blaming an experience for the reason we won’t move forward instead of trusting God to restore and heal us. Arrogant pride is innate in all of us. We think our understanding of a situation is ironclad, but God’s thoughts are higher than ours and Wisdom is attainable only through the Spirit.. This is why prayer and time spent in His word are so essential to the Christian life. We must forsake our pride to be open to learning how God thinks.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
There had come a point in my walk where I realized that I was keeping God at a distance. I wanted His salvation His promises, but I didn’t want to give up anything for Him. If I did, it was trivial. Don’t get me wrong; knowing you have the protection of an eternal God is no small thing. It makes a difference when life hits hard. Though, that is a shallow relationship. When someone wants to be your friend because of what they can get from you, you would say they are using you, right? Why do we try to do the same thing with God, when He wants a deeper relationship with us? I can say for myself that I was clinging to the warm and fuzzy idea of God and keeping myself from experiencing a real relationship and real change. I was still having trouble with keeping friends, struggling against intense anxiety, fickle self-worth, and yearning for purpose. I realized the one thing I never really did was surrender. I never fully and truly trusted God and His plan for my life. I feared the unknown and held onto my agenda instead of surrendering to God.
The moment I surrendered to His will, my journey began. One conviction after another seized my heart. Some were easy to surrender, and others weredifficult to swallow like balled-up sandpaper. There were some convictions I struggled with for weeks, researching, praying, and talking with trusted friends as I came to embrace those convictions He put on my heart. Sometimes that is what it takes to find the heart of Christ, struggling refines us. Paul asked the Philippians to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. In many of these situations I would ask myself, If God were asking me to change this, would I? If the answer is no, then I’m not surrendered to His will. Sometimes I would find that I had freedom in a particular area. The Lord doesn’t want to trap us in an endless list of things we cannot do. He wants our hearts.
There are some things I gave up even though I had the freedom to do it. Why? This verse right here…
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything. -1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV
When you adopt the heart of God, it is no longer about what you can get away with doing. It is about surrendering your desires to the will of God and the mission He has placed before you. Some things are not sinful, but they are not helpful to our eternal spirits and purpose set by God. I don’t know about you, but if something will hinder the ministry God has trusted me with, I just won’t do it. I no longer want to be the Christian who other people look at and think there is nothing different about you or that’s not loving. I will fail every day, but, by God’s grace alone, He will use what I have to offer.
Sin is attractive; it would not be tempting to sin if it weren’t. One thing I have learned though, is that every time I choose to surrender something to God, it is replaced with a joy and satisfaction that is not measurable. The Lord will meet our needs when He asks for something from us. Surrender is not a loss, it is an exchange; an upgrade. I no longer question my purpose or my value, and I don’t rely on anyone but God to set the standard. The confidence and peace He has given alone is enough to make me say, “Lord, take everything.”
Each faith-filled step of surrender opens a door of possibility: restoration of relationships, new relationships, healing from past hurts, new opportunities and so much more. When we surrender to the Lord, we begin to yield for the Lord. The possibilities God has for you are endless and so exciting! Don’t miss out on the chance to see His glory and power this side of Heaven. The Lord has so much more for you; freedom beyond your wildest dreams.
Remember to prioritize firsthand Bible reading every day, only the Word has the power to transform.
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV