“What would you say is the first step towards becoming a Christian?”
I was asked this question, many years ago, by a man who attended law school with my husband.
“Surrender,” was my immediate response.
Later on, however, as I recalled my own conversion experience, I decided this was not the “first step.” I prayed for an opportunity to talk to him again, and was thrilled when he called to talk to my husband, a few weeks later.
While I had him on the phone, I asked, “Do you remember when you asked me about the first step to becoming a Christian? Well, I wanted to let you know, I think there is a step before surrender.”
“What’s that?” he asked, curious.
“Revelation!” I declared. “You can’t surrender to someone you don’t know!”
This man was a skeptic, for sure. I will probably never know if he met and surrendered his life to Jesus. However, I recognized that this pattern of REVELATION AND SURRENDER, which began my personal relationship with Jesus, has continued to happen over and over again. Looking back, I can see this is a necessary process if we are to experience growth in our walk of faith.
This spring, I have the joy of mentoring a few women in lessons I have learned about living a life of faith. Below are a few stories of what this pattern of revelation and surrender have looked like in different seasons of my life.
I met Jesus when I was seventeen! A classmate caught wind of my “messy life,” and invited me to the youth group at her Bible teaching church. I went. I had gone to church all my life, but there, for the first time, I heard the gospel! REVELATION happened! I KNEW, really knew, Jesus was alive and well. I understood He died for sins. My sins! And, that night, I asked Jesus to save me and live in my heart.
Sadly, it would be two long years, before I SURRENDERED my whole life to Jesus. It happened at a midnight New Year’s Eve church service. After running away from God, I returned to the church where He first revealed His Son, Jesus, to me. Once again, I heard the Word of God. There, as the minutes crept into the new year, I felt God’s invitation to come. At the pastor’s encouragement, I was the first person down on my knees crying out, “God, I have made a mess of my life. Please, take over!” I walked out of that church, into that new year, as a new person, with a new life.
About a year later, I lay in a surgical recovery room, listening to the doctor’s words, “You have a disease in your uterus...I don’t know if you will be able to have children.”
More painful words could not have been spoken! I wanted children more than anything in the world. Yet, God was with me. Even as a new believer, I sensed in my heart (REVELATION) that having children was a god to me. The Lord seemed to be saying, I ALONE want to be the Lord of your life. So, for the next few years, I SURRENDERED my longing to be a mother into the hands of the Giver of LIfe, over and over again.
God did give us children, before I finally had to have a hysterectomy. However, when they were small, I was always sick. I felt awful much of the time. Doctors had no answers. But, God knew what was wrong. As I called out to the Lord, information came into my life via friends, books and plain old, common sense. However, what it was telling me was hard. So, I ignored or neglected most of it.
Until, one morning, I woke up with these words resounding in my head, “Sugar is to you, like alcohol is to an alcoholic. You Must Not Eat it!” I KNEW THIS WAS FROM GOD. REVELATION! For, I would never have had those thoughts on my own. Not in a million years. SO, I SURRENDERED! Well, 99% of the time, that is. It took more than fifteen years before I finally surrendered 100%.
I have dozens of other stories. However, for now, I can testify that over the years, God has been so faithful to reveal Himself, His character, His provision, and His desire to redeem and transform my life, over and over again. Then, He patiently waits for my sincere and complete SURRENDER to that REVELATION. And, finally, when I surrender wholeheartedly, (He always knows when I really mean it), I discovered the peace and victory He longed to give me all along.
I wonder, as I end this post, can you see this pattern of revelation and surrender in your walk of faith? I hope you will watch for it. For it is essential to our growth in Christ.