I have a challenging question. Yes, it deals with God, but in an unexpected way. Answering it requires you to not get irritated with me and to candidly answer only after deeply pondering the question. I mean you no harm. I do not judge you. I will not judge your answer(s).
As most self-discovery involves, please join me on a journey. Our quest will take us a long distance and requires no baggage.
Shedding all Temporal Baggage
To prepare, strip away all the comforts and conveniences of modern society. Where we’re going there is no air conditioning, soft mattresses, refrigerators, carpeted flooring, automobiles, stocked pantries, restaurants, technological devices, or Internet access.
Furthermore, liquidate all 401K and other retirement accounts, pensions, investment funds, emergency savings funds, and petty cash drawers, then pay off all your debts and give the remaining balance to your charity of choice. Cut up all credit cards and discard any associations with reward points and any other financial entity you use or on which you depend.
Still with me?
Next, empty all closets and dressers of extra clothes, fancy suits, evening gowns, silk ties, and the excessive accumulation of shoes. Then, leave behind all cosmetics, perfumes, colognes, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shaving creams and razors, and lotions – yes, tweezers and Q-tips too.
Finally, sell your house and cars, pay off any associated loans, and give any remaining cash to your church. Give up all personal expectations.
Now, we can begin our journey.
After a fourteen-hour flight and three-hour bus ride, picture us standing in the middle of a wilderness desert setting. Threadbare head coverings protect our faces from the dry, hot, blast furnace blowing down from stark, rocky mountains. We wear tattered robes and worn sandals, haven’t bathed in days, and have very little food and water. We’re alone in the elements at the mercy of nature.
There is no comfortable church, no praise and worship band, no pastor streaming live. No libraries stocked with favorite books of encouragement or videos of favorite music groups or speakers. The sole source of our praise, encouragement, fulfillment, dedication, and ongoing strength is what we establish with God and Him alone. Matter of fact, the only recollection of Scripture is what we’ve committed to memory.
Now, you’re ready for my question. Or maybe a series of subsequent questions stemming from that main question.
Is the invisible God still your God?
Is He still your provider, protector, healer, defender? Honestly, is He still your source of praise? Does your heart overflow with thanksgiving and satisfaction of being His child?
Is your mind unwavering in thoughts about Him, dedication to Him, and the elimination of anything detracting from Him? If you have no means of self-reliance, do you depend, love, and hope solely on Him?
Do you kneel in the hot, gravelly ground to worship Him? Does your parched, dry throat sing His praises? Do you thank Him for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness even while your stomach is growling? Does your face reflect Jesus even as sweat runs down your back? Do you revel in the glories of heaven while suffering in the heat? Is God your all in all in the midst of barren nothingness?
Strip away everything but your true, authentic self. In that harsh environment and personal emptiness, can you willingly and lovingly surrender your will and life to God? Can you trust Him to provide everything you need?
After all, that’s the meaning behind the lyrics of the beloved songs we sing. “All to Jesus I surrender.” “Nothing between my soul and my Savior.” “Just as I am without one plea.” Even the children’s song, “I have decided to follow Jesus. Though no one join me, still I will follow. The world behind me, the cross before me.” Just God and you / me.
Paul echoed the sentiment: “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). He knew how to set his mind, affections, desires, priorities, and loyalty “on things above” instead of the temporal conveniences of this world (Colossians 3:2).
Oh, my friend, I do not judge you. My introspection reveals I am severely dependent on all the wrong things and reorients me to the simplicity of accepting, loving, and trusting God for who He is, not for what He does. Hopefully, this journey encourages us to gain a new perspective and to focus on what is eternal. May we send our roots deeper into the living, everlasting water of God’s Word until we find our ultimate expressions in Him and Him alone.
Yes, God is still God – and He is enough even if He is all we have.
WOW! A wake up call indeed! My “surrender” of the things of this world are meager. Thanks for providing a reality check brother!
Me too, my friend! So we press toward the prize, shoulder to shoulder!