20. POISE THROUGH SURRENDER
After hearing a missionary who had returned from China, a young lady walked up to her and said, "I'd give the world to have your experience."
"That," said the missionary, "is exactly what it cost me."
I am impressed time after time when I listen to missionaries on furlough from a foreign field. They have willingly forfeited economic affluence, worldly ease, and the fellowship of relatives and friends here at home. They have a serenity, a poise that bespeaks a peace that cannot be defined—"the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).
The Word of God commends this kind of surrender — and not just for missionaries:
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. —Romans 6:13
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. —Philippians 3:7,8
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. —Matthew 10:39
To be sure, the person who has totally surrendered himself to Christ fulfills all the other contributory factors to poise that have already been mentioned. All these aspects interlink and overlap; they are arranged like the facets of a diamond. I have been turning the jewel of poise around and around so that light may be flashed from every side of it and viewed from every angle.
There's less hassle on the narrow path
Many times while in the pastorate and even on occasions since entering the field of evangelism, I have been approached by people who said, in substance, "I know that if I yield my life to the Lord He is going to make me preach, and I don't want to do it." With some it wasn't preaching, but some other sphere of service. There are people who apparently are plagued with the misconception that if they surrender themselves to the Lord He will require of them that which they do not want.
This is a trick of the devil. When you surrender yourself to the Lord you will want what the Lord wants for you. God's Word says, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37:4). And, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7).
God's Word tells us that if we, as human parents, give good gifts to our children, how much more will our heavenly Father give good things unto them who ask Him (see Matthew 7:11). Imagine your son or daughter coming to you and saying, "Mom and Dad, I want to do everything that will make you happy. I know that you have had much more experience than I, and there are many mistakes that I can avoid by following your counsel and advice. I beg of you to guide me and direct me. To the best of my ability I will follow your suggestions."
Can you imagine retreating into a private room with your wife or husband and plotting together, saying, "Now little Jimmy has put himself completely in our hands. He is at our mercy. Therefore, let us do everything we can to make him as awkward and miserable and frustrated as possible"?
That's absurd. If we would not treat our own children that way, how much more true is it that our heavenly Father would not treat us that way? "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11). "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him" (Psalm 103:13).
With surrender comes poise that conquers worry.
Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom. Too bad. Lot was a child of God. Second Peter 2:7,8 makes that clear. But Lot went his way instead of God's way. As a result of his disobedience he lost—lost dearly. The Lord told him to get out of Sodom. His married daughters, his sons-in-law, and his grandchildren would not leave with him. Parents may take their children to Sodom, but rarely will they get their children out again once they have been there any length of time.
Lot lost his wife. She was turned into a pillar of salt. He lost all his possessions, his position in the city, his prestige. He lost the respect of his two married daughters, who, in a cave, got him drunk and then committed incest with him, whereby he became the father of one son by each of them. Oh, the grief and anxiety that would have been spared him had Lot only surrendered himself to the Lord! He was robbed of the "desires of his heart" because he refused to "delight himself in the Lord."
Surrender begins with a single step
A young mother asked to see me during a series of speaking engagements in a distant city. I told her I did not do counseling. Her pastor, a senior man of godly discernment, pled with me to break my rule and see this lady. I agreed. She was greatly distraught, mentally and emotionally. The anguish of her heart was torturing her body and imprinting her face. She had been under psychiatric care for more than four-and-a-half years, during which time she had been subjected to shock treatments. She, a professing Christian, gave every evidence of sincerely wanting to do the will of God.
After some brief but pertinent questioning, I asked her frankly if there were something that had taken place in her life, whether years ago or more recently, that preyed constantly on her mind. She said there was. It was a sin committed during adolescence. I asked her if she had confessed it to the Lord. She assured me that she had. Since a second person had been involved, and a third knew about it, the thought that her dereliction might surface terrified her. She couldn't stand the prospect that her children, now entering their teens, might find out. She seriously considered suicide.
I said, "I imagine, from my observation, that you have confessed it to the Lord over and over and over—probably a thousand times. Is that right?"
She nodded her head affirmatively.
I said, "You see, actually, you are making God a liar. You confessed that sin once. God promised you absolute forgiveness, as we read in the words of 1 John 1:9: 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'"
I said, "The reason you are going through this torture arises from your unwillingness to surrender yourself completely to the Lord. You do not trust Him. You are not willing to take Him at His Word. He has forgiven you, but you refuse to believe it. You refuse to forgive yourself. You are making the mistake of thinking that repentance is repining, and that self-examination is brooding. Now then, simply take God at His Word. Surrender your life completely to Him. Surrender the limitations of your finite mind to the assurance of His unchangeable Word. He has forgiven you. Now in complete surrender, believe it. I can't promise the truth will never surface, or that your children will never learn of it. But, by your current brooding, almost psychotic brooding, you are now depriving your children of the mother they need.
"And, remember the promise of our Lord, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Her husband later said, "I don't know what has happened to her, but she is a different woman. She has a sparkle and a vibrancy I have never seen in her before. Even the children remark about it."
Businessmen across the world, petrified by fear and paralyzed by anxiety over reverses in their business, could enjoy business success and more if they would only surrender themselves to God and take Him as their partner.
Homes, internally divorced, where husband and wife live together under protest in an atmosphere of tension, could become the vestibule of heaven if husband and wife would simply surrender to Jesus Christ. It is trite, but it is nevertheless true that "if their home were built upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, it would not be headed for the rocks of chaos." Here then is the secret of poise: surrender to Christ.
Remember: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13). He will strengthen us to observe the laws of self-control, relaxation, scheduling, stewardship, skill, industry, thought control, and enthusiasm—all the contributory factors in the mastery of poise—if we will only surrender our wills to Him.