How to Relinquish and Trust
There’s been a lot of tension around here. It begins every morning before breakfast, as my daughter, Taylor, and I exit the house. Our task sounds simple enough: walk the dogs. The problems begin as soon as we leave the driveway. Every. Single. Day. Max wants to meander slowly, stopping often to take in all the neighborhood sites and smells, making note of each crow, all squirrels, every cat’s perch, and the latest announcement of dominance on tree trunks and fire hydrants by the other pets trodding the same daily neighborhood trek. His sister, Lola, on the other hand, has her nose to the ground but at lightning speed, like a Hoover vacuum that’s been shocked with a supernatural electric surge. She pulls on her leash with herculean power to hijack the leader’s authority in order to plow through the neighborhood, preferably down the middle of the street.
Neither approach is working for us. Walking either dog leaves us a sweaty mess by the end of the trail. When you think about it, learning to walk is so more than just the walking, but about relinquishing control and learning to trust the master.
I thought about this tension today as we finished because that same kind of tension is inside the house, as well. You might be experiencing something like it.
Should we go to school in the fall? Or should we take the on-line option and stay at home?
What about the mask? Should we wear them? Or does it infringe upon our rights?
Should I keep my business open and hope we get through this difficult time or look at other options?
Can I allow my child to spend the night at the friend’s house? Visit the parent? Keep the appointments? Go to the mall? Eat in the restaurant?
There is tension in these issues that can be seen, felt, and heard. But this kind of stress does not even begin to compare with that of what Jesus endured on our behalf, and wrestled through unto victory. He exactly models how to navigate our strains of today. No. He didn’t have to wear a mask. His was a crown of thorns unto death. And it was for you. And for me. To show us a way through.
From Life Principles for Living Out the Greatest Commandment
I first saw The Passion of Christ, produced by Mel Gibson, on Easter in a small West Texas theater. The most memorable and moving scene came as Jesus was in His horrifying state: beaten until unrecognizable, exhausted, and about to endure the sin of all humanity and the turning away of His Father. The cross is lying on the ground. Jesus crawls of His own free will upon that cursed structure and stretches out His arms for them to kill Him.
No other visual compares with this one as I think of John 10:17-18, where Jesus says:
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (NIV)
I wonder if these words and the actions of Jesus that followed them influenced Paul’s concept of a living sacrifice:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1, NIV)
Have you ever considered what part of us controls whether we heave ourselves upon that altar in the first place? And which part pulls us off? I don’t have a definitive answer, but I know myself and my girlfriends. What controls my decision to heave or hold is the same part of me that chooses cheese balls over apple slices. It’s the same part of me that replays the tape of hateful scenarios of what I should have said to that awful woman instead of practicing pure thinking, thankfulness, or anything praiseworthy.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, (Romans 12:2a, NIV)
Just as we operate the renewing function with our thoughts, we decide in our own minds to what degree, when, and how we offer ourselves as living sacrifices before the Lord. I have the power, using nothing but my mental faculties, to lay my life down on that imaginary altar and to pick it back up again. And so do you.
If we look closely at this relationship between the concept of laying our lives down and taking them up again, it looks a lot like relinquishing and trusting. This is a relationship wrought with tension. We can envision this relationship in the lives of biblical examples:
- King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:17-37) when threatened by Assyria
- Daniel (Daniel 6:1-9) when thrown into the lion’s den
- Jesus (Mark 14:35-36) just before his arrest, while praying in the garden
In fact, we will almost be able to feel the tension, because we all know what it’s like to struggle with everything in us to resist doing what we want, in the hope of experiencing a superior outcome. How we handle this tension in our daily walk will determine the degree to which we leave our lives on that imaginary altar.
This ability is mental prowess—a kind of silent strength blazing forward in a victorious moment of relinquishment—with the only assurance being “I don’t know what is going to happen, but I trust You with my very life.”
Jesus repeated his relinquishment of self and placement of trust at least three times that night in the garden (Mark 14:32, 39). How much more important for us to pray for the mental strength to fling ourselves upon that spiritual altar, not knowing how it’s going to turn out—to say “I trust You” and repeat this process at many times as it takes or until our dying breaths are silenced and He ushers us into His presence!
What kinds of things keep you and me from flinging ourselves upon the spiritual altar in the first place? Maybe, like me, you have practiced the fling many times before, but you keep pulling yourself off. Why? What is driving you to pull off? What should you do to get back on? Maybe you have learned a thing or two about staying on that altar. How could you encourage the rest of us?
Today, begin to turn yourself and every situation over to Him. Determine to make relinquishing your habit until you no longer pick yourself back off that alter in complete trust of the God who loves you first.
Adapted from Principles for Living Out the Greatest Commandment, by Cheri Strange, AMG Publishing.
Thanks for being here. I always enjoy meeting you here. Today I wanted to give you a taste of the Bible study, which is available at your favorite book retailers.
You can find more from Life Principles on this website here:
If you would like to sample more from this study, you can read more here or on the Bible app, YouVersion. This reading plan also provides video clips from Cheri’s series which accompanies this 8-week study. You can view all of these here.
As always, it’s a joy and pleasure to do life with you, even in the crazy.
For His Glory,