Updated: Nov 4, 2021
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).
Nothing says "surrender" like the Fall season. Tall, strong, vibrant, trees are helpless to yield their healthy green leaves to the dry, brittle death and loss of the Autumn season. Their very covering stripped and swept aside in piles to be burned or shredded into mulch. I love the Fall, and for that very reason. It is a daily reminder of our dependence on God. And of the miracle of transformation and a resurrection life to come.
Surrender is the first and most important step toward transformation and wholeness of spirit, soul, and body. It's the first step toward choosing to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life over the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But let me be clear. The revelation of Slave Trade is not about giving ourselves permission to sit down with a pie and a fork and defy the known laws of health and nutrition. Wouldn't we love that option in during a Thanksgiving feast! Make mine Sweet Potato, please! No, but it is about choosing faith in God's leadership over faith in the laws of health and nutrition; depending on God to speak specifically to you about what to eat, according to the divine design He had in mind when you were created. Besides, who can decide what is true and right where food laws are concerned anyway? In the ever-changing glut of information being stuffed down our throats -- meat, no meat; honey and maple syrup, no sugar; dairy, no dairy -- who can know what's right? So, what is one to do? The answer is simple. Follow the word of God: whatever you eat and drink do it in faith. For whatever is not of faith, the Bible calls sin.
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23).
Yes, in context that passage is about eating certain foods offered to idols and abiding by food laws set by Moses. But isn't that what we see in our society today? Some food plans have become idols, and some even ascribe to the foods laws of Moses over the release from them in a revelation shown to Peter of unclean and clean food? (Acts 10:9-16). What you eat is important, but it has to be under the leadership of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, Himself. Whatever food plan, philosophy, or food laws you choose to abide by, do so by yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit, not by relying on your own strength or "will" power.
Temperance is a fruit of the spirit, not a product of your own effort. Fruit comes from abiding in the Vine and yielding to its nourishment, water, and light, not by striving to produce on its own power. Whatever you achieve through performance you have to maintain the same way. In the upside-down Kingdom of God, you win the race by laboring to enter into rest. You produce fruit by abiding in the Vine and yielding to its season of harvest, death, and resurrection to the newness of life. But today we are focused on a different kind of surrender. Not to temptation, but to Beauty.
Beautiful is not a fairy tale. Each of us understands what is beautiful. We are wired with the innate desire within to be beautiful. Why? Because God is beautiful and we are made in His image; bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh. We have a divine opportunity to manifest Beauty on the outside -- in our bodies -- .regardless of our D.N.A., or genetic programming. How? By abiding in the Vine. It isn't about trying to be beautiful, or even about a Hollywood image of what beauty should look like. It's about surrendering to the Beauty we already are -- in Christ and in His magnificent Beauty -- and shining that healthy, vibrant, secure, confident, brilliant image to the world.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27:4).
The Bible described Esther as "perfect in beauty and in form." The Shulamite bride of Solomon was "flawless, with no spot." Jesus is coming back for a Bride, "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing," That's not vanity, it's a Promise. That perfection is in us in Christ. We don't have to settle for "just the way we are." Sure, we're loved and unique, and beautiful -- "just the way we are," and we should be confessing every day, "I love my body because Christ lives in me!" But there's a standard that is higher than the best our natural D.N.A. can produce. And it has nothing to do with striving to become transformed by this or that food plan or exercise regimen. It has to do with surrendering to who we were created to be and already are.
We will continue that conversation. In the meantime, rest and lean into this season with these words written many years ago.
Surrender - J. Lynn Thomas
Walking through nature's bowl of dry cornflakes on a brisk Autumn morning, with the snap of apple-crisp air smacking the pink into my cheeks,
I stopped to watch the brilliant display of scarlet, topaz, and emerald, rippling across the lake like many colored jewels skipping at play.
Reflections of the stately trees, woven like a regal tapestry, encircled the crystal lake.
Severed leaves, curled into ecstatic grins, whipped gleefully around my face -- sailing off on an adventure to some far away land.
Do you suppose we look as beautiful to the Father as the colors of our dying flesh reflect across His face?
When the wind of the Holy Spirit rips off our graveclothes, can we laugh with sweet abandon?
As He hurls down the fire, searing us with the red hot brand of holiness, stripping us of the stained and filthy rags of self, can we stretch out our limbs on the altar and say with confidence, "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him"?
As He buries us into the baptism of His dear Son, do we dare believe His goodness to resurrect us once again, in His time, and in His season?
Can we trust Him when our "now" looks nothing like the dream in our heart?
I say, yes, Lord. I surrender to Your leadership, to Your goodness, and to Your plan.
For Yours alone is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever. Amen.
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord (Psalm 45:11).