“Now you see me, now you don’t!” was a recent picture of me on a whitewater rafting trip in Colorado.
I was at the Metro Single Pastors Conference in Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs last month. The conference leaders made the announcement about anyone wanting to go whitewater rafting. I had never been before, so I was super-excited and super-scared. Because I am not the smallest person in the world, I started to imagine what would happen if I fell out of the boat. I mean, who would be able to get me back into the boat? You can’t just pull the boat over and stop.
So we made the two-hour drive from Colorado Springs to Noah’s Ark Adventure Park deep in the Rocky Mountains. Once we got there, our instructor went over the various safety rules, like “don’t fall out of the boat,” which he repeated over and over, “and if you do fall out, do this and don’t do that.” I just hoped I could remember all of it.
So the time came. I put on my life jacket and helmet and jumped into the boat. I immediately grabbed some straps and wrapped them around each wrist, holding on for dear life. We started moving, pretty easy and calm, but I knew things would get rougher as time went on. Then, out of nowhere, we hit a bump and I went two feet into the air, only to fall (not out of the boat, thank God) inside the boat, legs up to my knees, tightly stuck under a section of the boat. I would need a lot of help from one of the pastors to get unstuck and return to my seat. I quickly realized I had hurt my left wrist due to having the strap wrapped around it. The instructor looked at my wrist and said, “Kris, do not do this again. You can hold the strap but do not put it around your wrist. If you had fallen out of the boat, you could have ripped your arm off.”
Needless to say, I had a hard time listening to him. I was scared. I didn’t want that to happen again. I was afraid to fall back into the boat. I had a hard time trusting my instructor, surrendering my will and believing he knew what was best. I am thankful to my pastor friend, Don, who kept looking down to remind me to simply hold the straps. This instructor was a professional. He had been here before. He knew how to help me if I did fall. I had to take the chance and surrender so I could not only enjoy the ride but be safe. Thankfully, I did finish the rapids without too much more drama or pain. Woo-hoo! And now, I can mark it off my bucket list.
So what is belief? As someone who has come to believe in God and his son, Christ, who died on the cross for me, I have become a Christian. You might have become a Christian as a child or an adult. You could have been raised going to church, praying at meals and bedtimes, going to VBS in the summer and attending the occasional Bible study or small group. You might have participated in a few service projects such as a fall festival, helping the homeless, or donating clothes to raise money for a mission trip. So is believing in God enough? The devil believes, but does he surrender? I believed in my instructor leading our rafting trip. I saw him, talked to him, heard of his experience. But yet, I was not ready to surrender to him my life. I was afraid … but of what?
When you surrender, you are literally waving the white flag. You are saying, Okay, my way isn’t working, so I will try it your way, I will follow you. You are giving up your control and giving it away to God. When you totally surrender, you’re saying way more than just I believe; you are waiting and living in expectation of the transformation of your mind, body and spirit to be like Christ.
For me to fully enjoy my experience whitewater rafting, I had to release my control and trust the instructor. I had to take a chance, knowing that while I could still fall, I would be picked back up. Even when I had control (the straps wrapped around my wrist), I still managed to get injured. So it would have been best from the start to trust my leader, to follow his lead. When you totally surrender, it’s not that you won’t get hurt or have bad days or even bad things happen to you. You just know that God is there to pick you up. And the more time you spend with God (learning the word, praying, etc.) the easier it becomes to follow. When you follow, you will become transformed. You are not going to stay the same as when you first believed. Thank you, Lord, for this!
The fine line revealed: It’s not enough to just believe in God; your belief needs to take the next step of surrender to God’s way, to solely follow Him in whatever way that means.
It’s easy to believe, but hard to surrender and follow God. And the rewards are out of this world. When you realize that every step you make is what God has designed, you will value your path, not fearing—because God is in control.
The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps (Proverbs 14:15).
Belief is not just about seeing what God does and agreeing; it’s a heart condition. Some people see all that God has done, but due to their own past—to their sin—they can’t seem to come to total surrender. Ask God today what is blocking you from totally surrendering all areas of your life. Ask God to change your heart.
Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him (John 12:37).
When you believe in total surrender, you will learn that your service to God will be him working through you. It’s not your power, but his. How wonderful is this? You will never need to worry if you have what it takes because God will always have what it takes. He will never send you where He has not gone and prepared the way. Where He has not prepared and equipped you.
Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it (Exodus 4:1-3).
If you struggle with surrendering—fully following God—then ask God to help you. Isn’t this great? Of course, as Christians we are not perfect, and we do struggle, but God has given us direction even in this area.
Then you can “surrender control” instead of managing surrender and maintaining control.
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).