To know Him and to make Him known
My name is Cindy and I’m a Scottish-Irish American. I live in Florida a stone’s throw from Disney World, but I was born and raised in the Midwest where I grew up in a “Christian” household. I place the word in quotes because the name of God was used daily in our home – at each meal and at bedtime. Church was a weekly ritual, often biweekly, for our family. In fact, my grandfather was the pastor. But we were “Christian” more by label than by life, as is the case in so many households today as well. Looking back, I marvel at how much of my life I spent knowing of God without ever knowing Him, and I can’t help but ask myself why. Why for so many years, so many decades, was He a complete stranger to me? Why did I fail to draw near to Him, to take the time to get to know Him, to surrender my life completely to Him?
My search for answers inevitably boiled down to two basic reasons: sadness and fear. I knew many of the things I had allowed to become a part of my life, a part of me, I would be required to surrender if I gave my life fully to God, and it brought me great sadness. I didn’t know God at all, but I knew enough about Him to know that following Him could and likely would require changes in my life, changes that I wasn’t so sure I wanted to or was ready to make. My attainment of a comfortable life from a material standpoint had remained elusive, but I knew following Him meant giving up the pursuit altogether and pursuing Him instead regardless of my comfort. I knew stress and worry could not coexist with faith, and following Him meant I must let them go, but they had become part of my identity. And many of the things I had found such pleasure in in the past, even though almost always temporary and fleeting, could not be a part of my future. Above all, I knew living life by God’s terms and not my own meant a complete reevaluation and, likely, overhaul of my habits, activities, relationships… my life… and I simply wasn’t ready.
And then there was the overwhelming fear of what a life surrendered to God just might mean. As God called me to give up things that had been such a huge part of who I was for so long, what was He going to replace them with? Was I facing a life of poverty, a life devoid of pleasure on any level, a life of emptiness, loneliness, endless suffering, sacrifice and thankless servitude? Why would I ever choose such a life? Who in their right mind would willingly choose such things? My sadness and fear constrained and crippled me, as they do millions around the world today.
But finger by finger God began loosening the death grip I had on living life by my terms. As relationships crumbled, financial security became absolutely unattainable, my life and the lives of loved ones hung in the balance more times than I thought I could bear, and my attempts to find happiness met with abject failure time and time again, I was confronted with a choice: God’s way or my way. Would I continue to live my life the way I had been to this point, collapsing under the weight of the illusion of control I so ignorantly believed I had over it, or would I surrender my life to the Creator of the universe, the Creator of me, and trust Him to show me who I really am and how He would have me live the life He gave me in the first place? I thank God every day He gave me the faith to choose the latter.
The moment of surrender to Christ is, dare I say, easy. The living out of that surrender isn’t always as easy. I would argue that nearly every person would surrender their life to Christ if they believed they could keep on living the way they wanted to. Despair comes when we realize this just isn’t an option, and rejection of God either in part or in whole is far too often the result.
In choosing to following Christ, I have been called to make some significant and difficult changes to my life. I have had to abandon relationships that did not honor God and reprioritize those that threatened to take precedence over Him. I have had to allow God to completely change my focus from self-centered to Christ-centered. What I listen to, what I read, what I watch, where I go is no longer my choice; it is God’s. The days and steps of my life are ordered by Him, not by me. And the irony of it all? The sadness over the things God called me to surrender has been transformed into the unspeakable joy of knowing Him. Stress and worry have been replaced with peace as I have learned to trust in Him for all things, knowing He is with me wherever I go. And the fear of what my life might be, could be, would be has never been realized but, instead, has been replaced by an indescribable hope grounded in the power and love of Almighty God.
As with all those who came before us, we are here, each and every one of us, on this earth at this moment in time for two purposes above all others: To know Him and to make Him known. So why does it seem to be so difficult, at times near impossible, for us to grasp this fundamental, essential truth of our existence let alone to live it out in our lives? Why do we fear drawing near to God? Why can we fail to believe in Him at all? Because we do not trust Him. Why do we not trust Him? Because we do not understand Him. Why do we not understand Him? Because we refuse to get to know Him. And why do we refuse to get to know Him? Because we believe the cost to us of knowing Him simply isn’t worth it, that He isn’t worth it.
I urge you if you do not know Christ as your Savior, or if you continue to have areas of your life that you fail to surrender fully and completely to Him, waste no more time. Do so now. God does not ask us to surrender our grasp on anything without offering something of immeasurable, eternal value to us in its place. I failed to see this for decades because I refused to give God the chance to show me. But believe me now when I say that if you knew what God has waiting for you and, most importantly, Who is waiting for you on the other side of obedience and surrender, you wouldn’t waste one more second in rushing to receive Them. None of us knows when our heart will beat its last beat or when our last breath will be. The time to ask yourself the single most important question of your life and decide on its answer isn’t tomorrow or even later today; it’s right now:
If you were convinced by the evidence that God exists and that Jesus is who He claimed to be, would you follow Him?