“Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees
And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin
I'm singing hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace”
- From Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins
It is Lent, a season when Christians consider self denial on the run up to Easter. Of course, self denial should not be for just 40 days. It is the call of Jesus by his grace to follow him; “anyone who comes after me must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” “Daily” he calls, not “annually”.
Mind you if there has ever been a time in history where these words are difficult it is now. In a world where self gratification is instant in that we can message, bully, buy and sell instantaneously from our phones Jesus call really is counter intuitive. It breaks the defaults of the conditioning of our society.
Rich Mullins’ words here say it all - “Surrender don't come natural to me/I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want/Than to take what You give that I need."
Rich's words sends me off immediately to the last few verses of Matthew 6: 30-34. Eugene Peterson's paraphrase (The Message) puts it poetically: -
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."
Jesus tells us to stop fighting and worrying about getting things and start responding to God's giving. This is wisdom for any age.
God doesn’t call us to self denial to spoil our fun. We fight God to hold onto what in eternity and even in the here and now we don’t need. We don’t take what God has to offer that would transform not only our own souls but the world we live in. Those who lack attachment are those who make the difference and live at peace. This Lent may Jesus' grace ring out deep and may it redeem us into what we were made for.