Chesterton wrote "Joy, the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian." But how?
First, the problem. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity writes,"The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing is to hand over your whole self to Christ, but it is far easier than what we are trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call, 'ourselves,' to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life and yet, at the same time, be good. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way, centered on money, pleasure, or ambition and hoping in spite of this to behave honestly, chastely and humbly, which of course will never work."
In short, we are living a fiction--a fiction that builds an artificial ceiling to our joy. The fiction gives us just enough of a taste of joy that we are sure we can have it all if we can only get our hands on more of the sugar pills.
How can we take off this ceiling? We can find unwavering joy, even during hardships, when we surrender our lives whole-heartedly to seek the Lord. That's how we upend those bewitching fictions. Again, but how?
Brother Lawrence, who wrote the Practice of the Presence of God, worked in a monastery as a dishwasher. His book has touched the generations. He said that he became a cleric. He wanted to go into the monastery so that he could flagellate himself, so that he could humble himself to do menial work, so that, somehow.... let me quote it to you. "So that I would be censured for my clumsiness and faults, and so would sacrifice my life and all of its pleasures to God."
But he went on to say, "God has outwitted me, and in my religious life, I have found nothing but satisfaction. This had often made me say to God, 'You have outwitted me.'"
Surrender looks like we have given up ourselves. But quite the opposite is true. When we humbly seek God with our whole hearts, we find our lives fill up to the overflow with joy and satisfaction.
That is the irony of surrender. We give up nothing of real value, but gain peace and joy that cannot be expressed in mere words.
God is in the business of outwitting the man or woman who is willing to surrender all.
Let's pray: Our Dearest Father, there is not a man or woman reading this who wouldn't love to seek you with their whole heart. Yet we are distracted by fictions, and we become distressed, and we need from time to time, Lord, to have you speak into our lives. Lord, help each of us to see our idols, to remove them - to understand the errors of our religion and repair it with repentance.
Let us experience the joy and satisfaction of being in a surrendered relationship with You. Outwit us, Lord. By faith we make that full, total, complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We ask this in His joyful name. Amen.