Submit to God. Humble yourself. Admit you need help. Surrender to Jesus. Ask Jesus to take over management of your life. This is the attitude one must have to become an authentic follower of Jesus. But pride stands in the way. Pride says, “I am capable of managing my own life, thank you.”
I like the way James, the brother of Jesus, explains the need to give up being the CEO of your life. In his New Testament Letter, James reminds us of Solomon’s wisdom: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).
James goes on to say, “Submit yourselves, then, to God…. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:7 & 10). So, what does James mean when he says the Lord will lift us up? The experience of a friend of mine is a good example of what happens when a man surrenders to Jesus and invites him to take over the management of his life.
My friend was invited to serve on a Humanitarian Aid Team that journeyed to Central Asia to share business expertise with business leaders in faraway Uzbekistan. He would have to pay his own expenses for the trip – several thousand dollars – which he did not have. Though the idea seemed preposterous, he was unable to dismiss the invitation. The more he prayed about the trip, the more he felt God wanted him to go. Finally, he gave up, promising the Lord he would go – if the Lord provided the money.
When he shared the proposal with his pastor and leaders in his church, they not only encouraged him to go but to take his teenaged son with him. Within two months, more than seven thousand dollars had been raised, passports and visas secured, and all arrangements made for a trip halfway around the world.
What the man’s friends did not know was that my friend was scared to death of making the trip. He confessed later, “I feared that I would never see my family again, that my son and I would die in a plane crash thousands of miles from home.” Despite his fear, he decided he had to obey God and go, even if it cost him his life.
After returning home, he shared, “Once there, in that strange land, I began to realize that God wanted me to go on that trip so he could bless me. I was not there to be a blessing to others but to be incredibly blessed by God.
“The people in that poor country honored me and my son by sharing the best they had to offer — in food, hospitality and friendship. I was the first American many of them had ever seen and they honored me because I cared enough to come and share helpful ideas with them. But it dawned on me that it was really God who was honoring me; he was honoring my obedience.”
Tears streamed down his face as he said, “I realized that the kindness I was shown by those humble Asian people was actually the grace of God. Had I not obeyed God, I would have missed this unbelievable blessing.”
Jesus warned us against foolish pride that separates us from God. If we are not careful, the devil will deceive us into thinking more of ourselves than we ought to think. We resist such pride by remaining continually surrendered to Jesus. This is how God “lifts us up,” by giving us the power to resist the devil and refrain from arrogant attitudes.
By the way, the friend who obeyed God by going to Uzbekistan to share his wisdom about forestry, was my son Tim. He and his son Joseph were “lifted” above their fear as Jesus turned their fear into a blessing. And Granddad was “lifted” into extraordinary joy by the way God used this unusual trip to bless both of them.
James is right. When we humble ourselves in surrender to Jesus, He will lift us up — far beyond our expectations!