Tuesday, March 5, 2019

How to Live Your Life Purpose: Surrender, Part Three

Have you ever wondered whether you are living up to your full potential, particularly as you straddle the doldrums of parenthood? If so, I invite you to join me in my newest series entitled, "How to Live Your Life Purpose." In the coming months, you'll discover how living your life purpose can be divided into six different movements or steps. We are currently exploring the second step, which is surrender. You can read the introduction or biblical discussion of this step from the past two weeks. Today, we'll explore the topic more biblically and theologically. 

Next week's post will conclude the second step. I will be sharing it exclusively with my subscribers; it will not appear on my website! Read about my own experience with surrender and my life purpose. Be sure that you have subscribed here so that you do not miss it! I am excited to share it with you. Thank you for your support!

Discerning the footprint of the Creator in our makeup is the first step of surrender; the second step is actively responding to what we discover. The idea of God’s call and our response is integral to theology. God starts the process with a call to faith. Our response is then two-fold: to believe and to act obediently to God’s direction in our lives. The latter certainly includes our willingness to assume our life purpose. It’s important to recognize that God is always the initiator in this process: “God in Christ is always the subject. God issues the call, the invitation, the summons. It remains for humans to respond.” * And our response to God matters.

A well-known biblical character receives a direct summons from the Lord and, instead of obeying it, runs away. God not only calls Jonah to a place where he doesn’t want to go, but to his worst enemy. God’s message for the people of Nineveh could in fact redeem them, and Jonah wants no part of it. As he is fleeing, his boat encounters stormy waters and he is thrown overboard, only to be swallowed by a whale. He isn’t spit out at once. Instead, he lives in the fish.

This kind of engulfment has spiritual resonance. We may not have been eaten by a fish, but we can certainly be mired in depression and longing when we do not surrender to God’s plan for our lives. In some instances, it feels like we are living in a self-imposed trap. The redeeming element of Jonah’s story is not only the deliverance he experiences from the fish through his eventual obedience, but an acknowledgment that sometimes this act of surrender can be hard—very hard. 

It’s no mistake that the first two Ten Commandments concern the primacy that God wants to have in our lives. I’m convinced God is aware of the strength of the forces that would pull us otherwise. God’s call and our surrender can challenge our comfort-level, security, need for social approval, and the expectations of our parents or boss, for instance. For Jonah, it even offended his sense of personal justice! Our willingness to obey and surrender despite the perceived costs not only effects our own deliverance of sorts, but it also unites us with other Christians who are resolved to do the same. No matter our different lives, different directions, or different challenges, we are all called by God.

Donald K. McKim, "The ‘Call’ in the Reformed Theology," Major Themes in the Reformed Tradition, edited by Donald K. McKim (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 336.

Questions to think about this week: What forces are particularly strong in your life that challenge your obedience to God's call? Have you experienced a kind of engulfment as a result? What would surrender look like for you? 

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