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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Surrendering my choices

Not long ago I spent a week hunting for bears in northern Minnesota. Sitting on a tree stand has always been some of my best reflective time.

This time around I started thinking about all the choices I make when I'm hunting. The surprising insight for me was that I realized in all these choices I submit my will to the animal I'm hunting. For example:

  • I don't wear whatever I want when I'm hunting; I wear clothes that will be silent and camouflage patters that will blend into the surroundings.
  • I don't cough, clear my throat, or turn my head whenever I want; I control these urges in order not to spook the animal.
  • I don't walk where I want -- I walk in a way and down trails that lead me to the animal or put me in a position where I might get close to the animal.
  • I don't bathe or wash clothes with whatever soaps I want -- I use materials to minimize my smell, out of respect for the animal's nose.
  • I don't choose the most comfortable place to sit; I perch up in a tree or crouch behind a screen of camouflage so that I am hidden from the animal's senses.
I could go on and on, but do you see? Every one of my choices is surrendered to the animal. I could certainly wear my comfortable nylon shell, but the noise it makes rubbing on branches as I walk through the woods would scare the game away. I could cough, sing, or talk on my cell phone -- or even bring a DVD player and watch John Wayne movies -- when I'm on my stand, but that would drive the animals away from me. I could take my bow or my rifle and sit in my comfortable recliner, but the animals don't choose to hang out in my living room, so I go out in the less-than-comfortable woods. I surrender these choices because I am single-minded in my goal of killing a deer or a bear or an elk.

As I sat high in a tree on a small platform stand considering these things, I realized that I want to be even more single-minded in following Jesus. So what does that mean for my decisions? Am I willing to surrender my will to Jesus, to make different choices out of respect for him? Am I willing to regulate what I wear, where I go, what I eat, when I speak and when I am silent, out of respect for and devotion to Jesus?

One reason Christians in America today are largely lukewarm and have little impact on our culture is that we so often believe we have a "free will" -- in other words, that Jesus saves me, but I can choose to do whatever I want, including choosing Jesus or not. And in most areas of our lives, we exercise our choices based purely on our own preferences. If I can choose whatever I want, then my choosing one breakfast cereal over another or one kind of car over another doesn't matter -- does it? But if I am surrendering in every possible way to Jesus, then he might have a preference what I wear, what I say or don't say, or even what I drive.

What do you think of this? Are there decisions you're making that are submitted to Jesus? Are there some decisions that you've held onto your own will and refused to surrender?

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