“I surrender everything. I surrender everything. I surrender everything to Jesus. I surrender everything.” Familiar words from a powerful and moving anthem. It captures the essence of what we are called to if we are to have a relationship with Jesus who offers us all the wonders of his Holy Spirit and the joys of his promises to us. Many, countless believers have started with the thesis of this song as the hymn of their spiritual beginnings.
I know I did.
Then something totally unexpected happened. I found, in fact, that I was not giving up everything. I would have said yes. I would have professed with conviction that I did. But God didn’t see it that way. He sees into our hearts and can more correctly determine if we have indeed given up. Truth be told, for most believers, letting go of everything is a lifelong journey, not a “one and done” event.
How does God bring us to this point, repeatedly, which unequivocally proves that we have not given up everything? His love for us is his motivation. The proof is usually internal, deep within our hearts telling us that all is not yet well with our soul. We almost find ourselves arguing with God over things that happen to us, or our loved ones. We insist that God invite us to the table and include us in his decision-making as we grapple intensely with what is happening in our world. We find that we almost ask God for a change because we feel we have a justifiable position. This may seem contrary to what he believes. We feel that societal norms are somehow more the way to go than what the Bible advocates. He is supposed to listen to my contribution, to hear my version of this journey of faith. Yet he seems to have no such interest.
In all of this, our hearts are stressed and we are not enjoying the rest, peace, and hope that we have gained from our salvation experience. If we’re willing to be honest about it, of course.
There is something in all of us, even the redeemed, that tends to want to insist that God see life through our eyes and if he did he would see that we are right, that we have more to him. offer and that we have many ideas on how to improve His notions of salvation and sanctification. These ideas address the wide range of issues that have thrown us off balance in the past or stress us out in the present. Whether this is how God should save a loved one, or whether he should be more active in dealing with social ills, to our insistence on a democratic process to validate key points of theology, we have these ideas which, according to us, will truly help God be more successful in today’s world.
God doesn’t do focus groups
by John Van Veen
And isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t we want God and His Son to see more success in our world, especially in our COVID soaked world? We want him to add us to his chat group…but we find that he doesn’t do chat groups.
It is not a new desire. We see it in the writings of David, Jeremiah, Solomon and others of the Old Testament. Job too, by the way. An overwhelming desire to help God fix what we consider to be broken. My book is an attempt to describe the different ways in which we as believers usually ask God to come to the table and negotiate with us, soliciting our ideas so that HE can be more needed in our world. This book examines how we try to leverage God to do a “group chat” with us and, ultimately, why it is in our best interest that He simply continues to ignore our pleas to do so.
As I read this book, my prayer is that it will help the reader see where they have been able to embrace this very human longing and in doing so lose the peace, rest and hope we have when we truly trust it in all things, where we have left everything. My desire is that this book will lead the reader to see the source of confusion and frustration in their walk with the Lord and bring the clarity that allows a return to the joy of our salvation.
To help you, we have also launched a series of podcasts going through each chapter. You can find them by going to any podcast source and searching God doesn’t do focus groups. May it bring rest to your soul as you read, listen and seek it.