Every genre has a hit song that glorifies abandoning the drudgery or difficulties of life and fleeing to worry-free days. Popular movies touch on the theme, vivid images stirring up our yearning for another life. And not just in our current culture: Conjure up that mental clip of Sister Maria shedding her habit for her native dress, running through the fields, arms flung wide, singing about being alive to the purity of the music of the hills. I bet my guess would be on the mark, too, if I suggested that many of you—like me—have at least once in your lives dreamed of walking away . . . from the troubles that plague you, the responsibilities that clog your days, the worries, the dreams that shriveled within your souls when ordinariness took over.
Even if we are not able to abandon the disappointments of life, we’re pretty clever at coming up with substitutes, aren’t we? Spa days, me time, shopping as therapy, staged selfies, pinterest boards.
What the Bible tells me is that if I want to get away from it all, I’ll have start at the root of the problem. I will have to start by abandoning . . . me, my selfish desires, my bitter rejection of God’s providence, my pride and presumption.
Isn’t it usually the way? It’s the path we least expect that God uses to draw us to himself. Just as we are hellbent on fleeing to the ends of the earth, God compels our flight path to conclude at the foot of his throne. (Jeremiah 10:23; 23:24; Psalm 139:7-12)
You see, the word “abandon” doesn’t mean freedom, it means surrender. It means abandoning the cause to the control of another—in this case, the cause of me. If I want to be free of the variables of life that make me miserable, there is no running away, only running toward. Any fleeing would only be toward another’s control.
I spent a lot of years doing this kind of running—from one deception to another, from one sin to another, from one emotional entrapment to another, abandoning myself to sorrow and sin and despair at every turn. There is a better kind of abandonment.
The Lord commands us to abandon our sins, our worries, our sorrows, our discontentment over lost dreams and especially any claim to defining life. (Sounds pretty petty now, doesn’t it? all that moaning over life being nothing more than a series of duty-burdened days and soul-withering boredom.)
He says, Give them all up! Leave them here, at the foot of my throne. (Romans 12:1-2)
When we surrender all there before King Jesus, before his throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), when we abandon our old lives to the control of the King, it is because of the heart-quickening work he has already done in us, transforming us by the renewing of our minds and the kindling of our hearts to the desires of God. “Crucified with him, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20; also 2 Corinthians 12:9-11)
His surrender for mine.
The weaknesses? The sorrows? The trials and afflictions? For all who put their trust in him, Jesus turns every abandoned stumbling block into shining trophies of gold. (Colossians 1:10-12; 2 Timothy 1:7)
- He makes every weakness a strength when we commit the obstacles to him.
- He converts loneliness into love for the brethren by giving us new eyes to see others’ needs above our own.
- He transforms sorrow into joy by hiding us within his heart, giving us a new identity, uniting us with him in his sufferings.
- He replaces drudgery with devotion by accepting our service to others as grateful ministrations to him.
- He takes the disappointments of my life and shows me how gracious and merciful he has been, and gives me the patience and kindness to alleviate disappointments in the lives of others’.
- He dissolves worries into contentment: every moment has been crafted by him and for my sanctification.
The me that wanted to be free from all my disappointments and entanglements—that me had to be left at the foot of the cross. Life is new, but not devoid of sorrows or trials. Outside of heaven that is impossible, but here a life surrendered to his perfect and sovereign will result in all things worked out to his glory and the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes. (Psalm 50:15; Romans 8:28)
According to the Scriptures, there are two paths: Darkness or Light, the Father of Lies or the Sun of Righteousness. We have no choice but to be under someone’s control. How merciful the Lord is that we have the option to choose the One to whom we can safely abandon all.
Originally appeared on March 10, 2017, as a 5-Minute Friday post (prompt: ABANDON)