One of the Hardest Things to Do
For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Romans 10:2-3
One of my jobs regularly takes me to see patients in a chemical dependency treatment facility, where I address whatever medical needs the clients may have while there. Most of these guys are familiar with the first of AA’s Twelve Steps – We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. They readily acknowledge they need help and that their way has led them to disaster. Knowing this to be true though, and letting go of control, are two very different things. As in much of life, believing in a truth and living out that truth is not the same.
It’s not uncommon for the addict to come to me knowing exactly what he wants. He doesn’t desire my opinion. He just needs me to prescribe what he wants. When I tell him that I don’t believe this thing would be good for him, does he look to step one and humbly admit that his will is a disaster? No. For the thousandth time in his life, he takes back control. He’s said he’s surrendered, but when it comes down to the practicality of letting someone else tell him what might be good for him, his self-will revolts.
I’ve been there and I still often find myself there. I’ve gone to God a thousand times, asking him to take over. As soon as my will is frustrated though, I resume control, because, despite a tremendous amount of evidence to the contrary, I still think I know best – about everything.
This is the flaw Paul spoke of in today’s passage, where he lamented his fellow Israelites unwillingness to surrender to Christ. He recognized that they wanted to know God, but they insisted they could get there on their own. Because they remained unwilling to submit, they remained lost.
A lot of us find ourselves here, even if we call ourselves Christians. We admit with our words that we need God, but our actions reveal that we retain control of our lives. Unwilling to submit to God, we fool ourselves by claiming to follow him, while living only for ourselves. Our problem is the addict’s problem – continually surrendering our need to control everything – and honestly, it’s one of the hardest things to do in life.