I Surrender All: A Dangerous Way to Live
Ipsiqodl (pronounced - IPP-SEE-COE-TAL): My friend Richard’s made up word that is used to depict when a person pushes or strives so hard that life, as well as God and the universe, reacts by pushing the opposite way. The opposite of surrender. The place I was in just a bit ago.
I was recently in one of my favorite coffee shops with a dear friend of mine named Richard who I see there often. We’ve gotten to know each other well over these past couple years. For some reason, seeing a stranger often enough seems to do that to me.
When I saw him, he walked up to me while I was starring at my phone and muttered, “You’re busy at work, huh?”
I replied back, “Well, yeah, kind of… not really”
I went on to evade his question and tell him what was on my mind. I was excited to share, so I asked, “How is it when we stop trying and just surrender, that life gets so good?”
Now, when I said “good”, I didn’t mean that life has never been good for me… but my perception of life at that moment was better than ever. And honestly, not too much of my situation had changed.
The only thing that was different is that 2 weeks earlier I had surrendered my life to Jesus once again after trying to pave my own way for a pretty long time.
Yes, I know, most would not expect me to say something like this, but I had a realization about 2 weeks ago that my life was self-centered, self-revolving, and self-absorbed. Don’t get me wrong, I loved people during this era of “self” I was in and I LOVED God (I really did), but my thoughts, agenda and mind were consumed with thoughts of “I… I… I…”
All the time.
“How can I get to the next level in my career?”
“How can I get free from debt?”
“How can I be in the right place at the right time?”
“How can I travel more?”
“How can I get God to do this?”
“How can I get God to do that?”
“How can I…?”
What’s unfortunate and heartbreaking is that I didn’t even realize that I had fallen into the trap that a lot of us American Christians fall into. The trap that lures us in with one evil thought: "following Jesus is all about me. I’ll follow Him when it’s convenient or to my advantage, but when it's not for the sake of receiving my personal dreams, hopes, & aspirations.. I'll follow from a distance."
This is an unfortunate mindset that many never even know they have begun to believe.
I know. I was there.
I was following Jesus with an agenda and not really focused on what His was.
I never said it, but I had become a “rich young ruler”. If you don’t know much about the rich young ruler, this character in the bible was following all the rules of God and seemingly doing everything right. He authentically approaches Jesus one day and asks Him what He can do to be complete and inherit true life. When he does, Jesus replies with “Sell everything you have, give it to the poor and come follow me”. (Matthew 19-16-22)
Unfortunately, the rich young ruler is not willing to give up his riches (his own agenda, his dream) and turns down Jesus’ offer, leaving disheartened.
This is where I’ve been missing it for some time now.
I love God with all that I am, but have failed to come “follow him” fully when He’s called me to do certain things that don’t necessarily fit into my agenda.
I don’t do this because I have some great excuse. In fact, I was growing used to telling myself “I don’t have the time… I need to stay focused” or “that couldn’t be God, that’s too strange” or “God knows I’m tired” or another one - “I’ll get to it later”.
Some of God’s callings and requests during this time in my life were simple too. For example, like when I would feel led to stop and help someone on the side of the road in my hometown with a flat tire. Or when the Spirit of God would lead me to talk to someone I didn't know. Or when I felt as if I need to stop working on work stuff and simply take a break to read my bible or hang out with my family.
Things that are small, but still please God’s heart and things that He wants to use to touch others, and even more: touch me with.
I found myself too busy, too burdened with my own agenda and absolutely missing the point of my life: to live a life free of agenda, full of joy and following God.
I was chasing “the dream”, but too busy to truly be happy and enjoy the journey I was on.
Knowing all this, I desperately wanted a change and one night after hearing a heart-shifting message, I decided to give up all of my dreams again and surrender my life to Jesus.
When I say surrender, I mean surrender.
Knowing that God might never give me back my dreams, I gave him my aspirations of doing music, getting married, buying a house one day, and paying off my debt.
I said to Him - “It’s painful, but I’m giving you all that I want and if you never want to give it back… that’s fine. I want what you want. I want you. I surrender.”
That was the night everything changed for me.
Having let everything go that night, I now have no pressure to perform. Not one ounce. My life is truly in the hands of Jesus.
With surrender has come a tremendous amount of joy, rest and hope. My future is not dependent on how amazing I perform… it’s dependent on God’s plan and me walking it out with Him.
I know he loves me, so I truly trust that though my life may not end up like the American dream with the nice house, beautiful family and great career… that my life will definitely shine bright and lead people to His love. And with all this, I will have tremendous joy and fun.
I’m tempted to pick my life back up every day and mold it the way I want to mold it, but I’m constantly reminded to let it go and simply surrender.
It’s painful at times.
But now that I’ve done it, I can say that it's worth it.
I’ll tell you why as we venture back to my coffee shop conversation.
So back to my coffee shop story:
After I mentioned to Richard about how good life was after I had stopped striving on my own, he went on to ask a deep question that he probably didn’t know was deep.
He asked, “What do you mean?”
I went on to tell him what I told you: how I had surrendered my life and all my deep desires to God. Not knowing how or if I’d ever get them back.
I went on to tell him how I had more freedom than ever though and that the joy in my heart was fuller than normal.
Well, when I laid down my life, I really believe that God handed me a better one.
Right away, opportunities I had dreamed about (and even those I had forgotten I had dreamt about) were now knocking at my door.
One of those opportunities is me being invited to help communities in Costa Rica this summer.
Yes. That's right.
When I was in high school I had a deep passion for Costa Rica and the country’s people that stemmed from a day dream I had.
Over many years, my passion seemed to fade, but God surely didn’t let the dream die.
After I truly surrendered and stopped pushing my own agenda, God gave me his agenda and brought back my old Costa Rica dream: I know with all my heart that I’m called to go to Costa Rica this summer and help the people with their sea turtle conservation problem.
I knew I was called to go one day, but I'm pretty sure that if I didn’t surrender and ask God about his plan - I probably wouldn’t have got the memo on what day that “one day” was.
Well, I'm really thankful that I got the memo and am now on a crazy adventure to help the Costa Rican people with their sea turtle problem. Being that sea turtles (and their eggs) are often eaten by the locals and abused by the tourists in Costa Rica, myself along with a group of others are going to go give our time to be a part of the solution.
Costa Rica has 5 out of 7 species of sea turtles along their coast and without them alive in the ocean, many species of fish and shrimp that local people eat in Costa Rica to live will eventually go extinct as well.
It’s a detrimental problem that will work its way through the ecosystem and hurt a lot of people's source of food if something is not done about it.
I’m desperate to help and hoping to go to Costa Rica this summer for 4 weeks to help.
While there, I’ll be helping to harvest the eggs of sea turtles by spending 5-10 hour shifts watching eggs (making sure they are not harmed and are properly cared for) and caring for the turtles (taking measurements, cleaning beaches, making sure they are protected from pollution and painful debris).
Small acts that make a huge difference in our world.
Even more, this wild journey has made me have to trust in God to get to where I believe He is calling me. For a while there, I was trusting in my own abilities and hardly recognized it.
I thought the trip fundraising would be easy to do on my own (since the trip is in July), but it turns out the funds to pay for the program’s shelter, food and resources to do the project are due on May 10.
That’s $3,350 in 5 days!
I’m in over my head, but God can do this.
So, I'm giving it all I've got, being bold, and asking all my friends and supporters to consider giving. God can do this and I believe that He will use many of you to help me be a blessing to the Costa Rican people.
As I always say, no matter what part you play in a project like this - whether you go, give $5, a prayer or give $3000 - God sees you and counts you a part of the effort.
So, will you help me volunteer in Costa Rica this summer and help communities in need?
You can give now by clicking here: http://tinyurl.com/SendMartay
I’m not done with you yet.
I have one question: are you striving on your own or are you living surrendered?
I challenge you to take some time and reflect on this. If you’re doing things in your own strength, always tired and striving by yourself... you're really missing out on living your best life.
And if that's so: I think you know what you need to do.
But, be ready when you do it.
I love you and thank you for always supporting me! Let’s continue living la vida loca!
xO - Martay