Abandon

Written by christopherbwolf

Topics: Living Water

I remember my Uncle Chappy telling me a very poignant story from his service in Vietnam. He was a lieutenant in the Army and he explained to me that he committed to the men in his platoon that he would never ask them to do something that he wouldn’t do such as taking a forward position. In fact, he didn’t just talk about it; he once joined a team of his platoon at the point of a dangerous patrol in the jungle when he didn’t need to. Only after being ordered did he return back to the rest of the platoon. Afterwards, his brothers graciously asked him not to do that again but his point was clearly made. Uncle Chappy said that he did this because he understood that these men were putting their lives in his hands and there had to be indisputable trust.

Whether we like to admit it or not, our lives are in someone else’s hands too. And all the time we waste denying and fearing that, trying to control everything, and trying to jump out of His hands – it’s the source of much of our discontent in life.

The issue of trust in God and trust in others is central to faith. You know that the opposite of faith is not doubt…it’s fear. And you know that fear keeps us from trusting and depending vertically (faith) and horizontally (fellowship).

In the midst of anguish and the threats and attacks of enemies, the Psalmist boldly proclaimed, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth (Psalm 31:5).” To me, it is the recognition that the only thing the Psalmist (and we) had to rely on was the Lord. Unfortunately, we often don’t realize or appreciate this until desperate, dark times.

As you might remember God’s own son, Jesus, while on the cross, cried out the very same words, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit! (Luke 23:46).”

I have to ask you – is this the cry of defeat or victory (think of what happens after the cross on Easter morning)?

Now, the world can look at these cries of the Psalmist and Jesus as voices of defeat. And certainly there is a surrender. But with the eyes of faith, there is much more to understand here. Surrendering to the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God is no surrender at all; in fact it is a victory! It is a victory over the corrupt human nature, it is a victory over sin and Satan’s ways. After all, the goal of this journey is to become more like Christ, and that will never happen for any of us who cling to what we want and what we think is best, right? At some point, whether a lightning bolt or gradually there has to be an acquiescence, a surrender, a submission, a commitment over and above ourselves into God’s hands and ways. The world says trust yourself, believe in yourself – does that really work? Trust in God or trust in myself – is there really a choice?

In the dangerous and uncertain jungles of Vietnam, Uncle Chappy understood that he had to demonstrate his dependability to his men. They had to see it to believe it. And the trust was needed for the platoon to function effectively.

Most of us are not and never will be in such perilous situations, but we are and will again face very challenging times and crises in our lives. Where is that trust in God or others for that matter going to come from especially if we can’t always see it?

Again the Psalmist helps, “In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed (Psalm 22:4-5).” In large part, our trust comes from remembering God’s promises and how we have seen them fulfilled in the past. In a related way, with trusting others, we can focus on the times when people have let us down, or the times when people have remained steadfast.

This trust in God…Is it risky? Yes. Will you feel like a fool? Probably at times. Will it seem incomprehensible? A lot of the time. Do I wrestle with trusting in God and his plan? Yes, too often. Do I (wrongly) think that my plan would be better? So prideful. Do I actually know better? Completely not. Would I be better off just trusting in God’s plan? Yes! Has He ever really let me down or forsaken me? When I think about it, never; the only disappointments had to do with my expectations. Will trusting in God transform our lives in unimaginably amazing ways? Absolutely.

I promise you there is much more freedom (than the paralysis of fear) and security in trusting God. Freedom in the abandon of leaving ourselves, leaving it all to God. We’ve heard the phrase “Give it all to God” or some variation, but how often have we really followed through. Faithfully proclaiming, “Into your hands, I commit my spirit (Psalm 31:5) is not a passive Que cera, cera (What will be, will be); it is a bold statement of faith and a declaration of abandon – abandoning our wills, our desires, our dreams, our hopes, our fears – our whole selves to God’s hands and sovereignty. It’s essentially saying “God I want your way to be my way.” In contrast, we spend so much time and effort trying to get God to endorse our ways.

One of the children in the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe asks if Aslan the Lion is safe. In other words, could they trust him? And the almost incredulous response is, “Is he safe. No. But he’s good.”

In the life of faith, there is no promise or guarantee of safety. In fact, if we are truly living out our faith in this world, it is quite dangerous. And trusting is not like 2+2, it takes real, actualized faith.

But know this – God is good and faithful and true. And even in the midst of a dangerous, chaotic, uncertain world, with all the war, disease and despair, when family and friends disappoint and betray, when planes fly into towers, buildings and fields, and those towers, buildings and lives are destroyed – there is a place of freedom, there is a place free of fear, there is a place you can truly depend on, there is a place of victory and triumph, there is a place of salvation…

“Into your hands, I commit my spirit…”

Can we, will we, without conditions or disclaimers, trust God with this kind of abandon?

Amen.

Rev. Christopher B. Wolf

Isaiah 42:7

www.christopherbwolf.com

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6 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. jelillie says:

    Thanks Pastor Chris,
    This was a great post! The thing is, abandoning ourselves to God is never a one time decision. It is not as though we decide once and the decision is made forever and a day. When first I choose abandon to Christ I must be mindful that tomorrow I will have to reaffirm the choice I made and renew that affirmation on all the tomorrows of my eyes will see. But what a reward awaits those who endure to the end!

    • @Jelillie – Thank you so much. You have added another important dimension to this message. Yes, it must be an everyday discipline! God bless you!

    • Cyrine says:

      Hello!This is one of the best article and sreomn I ever read. Thank you for the encouragement. I really in need of those words. Sometimes or many times I really blame other person but upon reading this, it enlightened me and hopefully I could share it to the other young people here in our country. Thank you for a life changing message. God bless!

  2. Your closing para – “But know this – God is good and faithful and true. And even in the midst of a dangerous, chaotic, uncertain world, with all the war, disease and despair, when family and friends disappoint and betray, when planes fly into towers, buildings and fields, and those towers, buildings and lives are destroyed – there is a place of freedom, there is a place free of fear, there is a place you can truly depend on, there is a place of victory and triumph, there is a place of salvation…” – sums it up.

    In the 52 (of 74) years that I have known the love of God in Christ, He has never given me the slightest reason to doubt His love, direction, providence and protection. On the contrary, He has proven His total trustworthiness. Great is His faithfulness!

  3. Excellent post. I learned a lot reading it. Thanks.

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