To persons who do not believe in God, to surrender oneself to the Lord seems to be the ultimate delusion. But to the believer there is something so natural in turning your life over to the love of God. And what does God want us to give up? the things we humans claim as our “rights” in the material world: the “rights” of the individual to control the circumstances of his life, to make his own decisions, to pursue his happiness—are exactly what God wants us to cede to him.
It is as if in July, 1969, Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin had walked on the moon and were trying to describe their experience to someone who had never experienced outer space and the sight of the earth from space. The other would listen and maybe think, “how interesting!” but would not understand the experience. What separates those with the experience and those without is very profound. Without the experience there is no capacity to understand what the other is reporting. It is the same with believers in God and nonbelievers—there is no language that can bridge the gap.
When one stands on the edge of an experience of surrendering oneself to God, one cannot imagine what the leap of faith will bring into his life—new ways of thinking, profound emotions, changes in the way of living and more—these are still in the future and can only be inconceivable before the actual experience. This is true especially of surrendering your life to God. One passes into the unknown with a leap of faith. The Bible indicates what the life will consist of, but each individual is treated differently by the Holy Spirit. What develops after surrendering is constantly a surprise, because the Spirit does not conform to our expectations. God does not fit into the neat box of our beliefs and must be free in order to create continually in our lives.
First the life of the Spirit begins with a “rebirth” experience, but each day and each hour after that God continues to call us to open ourselves more and more to Him. In my own experience for three or four days in 1984 after I surrendered, I was walking on air, but then I crashed to the earth and spend days writing a list of the “gods” that came between me and God: emotions, negative thinking, behaviors, material things, everything that was more important to me than God. Since then the Holy Spirit has gradually transformed my life. He constantly asks me to cede more and more which, when I am able to let them go, brings more cohesion and integrity and continually fortifies my spirit.
How could anyone who does not believe in God and had the experience of surrender understand my experience? Is there a language we have in common in which I could share what God has accomplished in me in 25 years? Could “Buzz” or Neil have communicated the experience of their first steps on the moon? Are there analogies that communicate across the diviersity of experience? Probably not. Because of this we remain on two sides of a divide without the words in common to those who walked on the moon and those who didn’t or between those who believe in God and those who don’t. Without a language there is little occasion for both sides to entertain a common point of view. We are left with our different points of view and no way of bridging the gap.