A sweet lady in her early twenties reached out to me recently. She sent me a message on Facebook to say that she stumbled upon my blogs, and as she read them, there were a few things about what I wrote that resonated with her. She took a chance and asked me if we could set a Zoom meeting sometime. We’ve never met in person, but she wanted to ask questions she’s been grappling with lately about her journey of faith.
So we did. We had a Zoom call one evening. She was sitting in her bedroom in Spain, I was sitting in my living room in the Philippines, and we had a good conversation about faith.
There was one question that she asked me on the call that lingered in my head after we said our goodbyes. She asked, “How did you come to a point where you can give up and surrender the things you loved to God?”
I didn’t really know how to respond to her at that moment. So I told her that I am still sometimes in the process of learning that, too. When I had time to think about her question, there were two things that became clear for me: obedience and devotion.
When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, we declare and acknowledge that He is the Lord and Savior of our lives. We used to live on our own terms, but now we live under His authority, under His Lordship. Colossians 2:6 says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”
Submitting to the Lordship of Christ wasn’t an overnight process for me. And I know it wouldn’t also be for you. In fact, I’m still submitting and surrendering to Him every day!
I was sixteen when I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. For sixteen years, I was living in sin and making decisions based on what I know is good. So when I gave my life to Christ, all of the ways I’ve lived for sixteen years weren’t easy to change at once. It was a process—a daily renewing of the mind and a daily preaching of the gospel to myself. Maybe that’s why we call it a walk of faith.
When the sweet lady asked me how I was able to give up and surrender the things that I love to God, I also told her that I didn’t wake up one day wanting to surrender. But when I was her age, I learned to practice obedience in my daily life, even in the smallest of ways.
Our walk with Jesus Christ is a daily and constant surrender. We will always be asked to take up our cross and follow Him daily. I hope you are no longer shocked about that. So if anything, practice it every day. That’s how you build the muscle of faith, the muscle of trust, the muscle of letting God be the Master of your life. And so when the time comes that you experience the hardest tests of life, surrendering to and obeying God will make sense as a response because you’ve been doing it all along.
Every time we obey, we grow in trust in God and we build a deeper understanding of His authority. We realize that we don’t really want to be the one in control of our lives because we always mess it up. I mean, why would we want to be in control anyway? We can’t even manage to keep our plants alive sometimes.
God is called our Lord because He is the ultimate authority of our lives. He is Lord because of who He is and what He can do. He is in control, He has gone ahead of us, He is sovereign, He is perfect, and so He deserves to be obeyed.
I want you to think about one thing you really love doing. Something that makes you lose your sense of time when you do it. Something that you are willing to sacrifice for and lose sleep over. Something that, even against all odds, you still find joy doing.
What is it for you? Is it art? Is it serving others? Is it honing a craft?
Devotion is often defined as love. We devote our lives to something when there is love for it. Like that one thing you really love doing, you devote yourself to it even to a point of sacrifice.
Isn’t it always worth it to surrender and give up something for what you love?
My question for us today is this: How much are we devoted to God? And if we say we are not yet at a point where we are willing to give ourselves as a living sacrifice for Him, I want us to examine the cross again and see His unconditional love for each of us.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” The only way that we will love Jesus more and live our lives devoted to Him is if we understand how much He loves us—even when we were still sinners.
It is in understanding that God loves us, even in our most messed up moments, that we learn to surrender to and obey Him daily. It is in knowing that He gave His life for us, even when we were His enemies, that we make a choice to give Him our all because He is worthy of it.
I was a fat kid growing up. In my younger years, my most dreaded day would be just right after summer, when my mom would bring me and my sisters to the seamstress who made our school uniforms. I would stand still in the middle of her shop, my mom watching us, and the seamstress would get my measurements.
“Her waistline is 29,” she would announce to my mother while she jotted it on her notebook. Once my waistline was known to everyone, my mom would either say something about how she needs to put me on a diet or the seamstress would comment on how big I was. I don’t remember a day in my six years of going into that shop without going home feeling discouraged about my figure.
The truth is, the world outside the seamstress shop wasn’t also a better place for the fat kid that I was. Words would be said left and right about the way I looked, and it made me deeply insecure about my appearance.
You probably have your own version of this story too.
Because one way or another, hasn’t someone said something about our bodies? How we are either too fat or too thin; too dark or too white; too small or too tall; too healthy or too unhealthy. The world always has a way of telling us we aren’t enough, and we always have a way of subscribing to the lie.
I think it’s why certain movements, advocacies, and philosophies about our bodies exist. It’s that serious that it has become a cause to fight for, this ongoing bashing of our bodies.
Some people say we have seen better days because of these movements that have popped up in recent years. Two of them that have been such a buzz were “body positivity” and “body neutrality.”
Body positivity is a movement that emerged around 2012, initially focusing on challenging unrealistic beauty standards. The message they want you to hear? All bodies are beautiful; not just the thin ladies or the muscular men, but even that fat kid standing still in the seamstress shop.
Body neutrality, on the other hand, was a term that started circulating around 2015. It is the idea that you can exist without having to think too much about your body, positive or negative. It also encourages you to recognize your body’s abilities and nonphysical characteristics over your appearance.
While body positivity celebrates the outward beauty of your body regardless of shape or form, body neutrality celebrates what your body can do regardless of shape or form.
We really could be grateful that nowadays, our society has become more and more aware of the issues we face about our bodies and that we are more empowered to speak up, to have freedom to choose, to have such support, rather than to be just told that you didn’t meet the standard.
And yet at the same time, I still wonder: who really has the final say anyway about our bodies?
The ongoing movements and causes, who are we doing these for? For others? For ourselves?
And if so, if the answer and the standard still lies within ourselves or the society we live in, the question still lingers is this: who defines what we should do with our bodies?
When my iPhone got messed up beyond my own ability to fix, I turned it in to the Apple Store. Why? Because they created iPhones; they know best how to fix it.
I like to think the same about us. When we all have been messed up with different views and voices about who we are, it is good to remember and trace back: who created you?
’Cause the answer we are looking for lies with our Creator. The Creator knows best how to fix us. The Creator knows why we were made. More so, the Creator holds the standard.
1 Corinthians 6:12–13 (CEV) says this about our bodies:
Some of you say, “We can do anything we want to.” But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me. You also say, “Food is meant for our bodies, and our bodies are meant for food.” But I tell you that God will destroy them both. We are not supposed to do indecent things with our bodies. We are to use them for the Lord who is in charge of our bodies.
I love this verse because it doesn’t just give us an insight about what to do with our bodies. It doesn’t necessarily tell us whether we should be positive or neutral about it, but it tells us who is in charge of our bodies.
This makes me realize why the issue about how our bodies should look is an ongoing saga with no end in sight. Because we are trying to solve it from a perspective that we own our bodies. So we end up believing anything we want to believe about it, until we feel good about ourselves.
Worse, we think society sets the standard, so we do our best to always work our way to please and fit in.
We have quite forgotten for whose these limbs were made, for whose this skin were created, for whose this waist were knitted. They were not made to fit a certain standard, a certain movement, a certain size, or a certain beauty.
They were made for more than that. They were made to honor the One who intricately weaved every fiber of our bodies and breathed life into it so He could use it for His glory.
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (CEV) goes on to say:
You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God.
Hear this: that body of yours with all of its imperfection? The Bible says that your Creator didn’t
just mindfully knit it in your mother’s womb altogether. But even when it lost its purpose, when we gave the enemy control over it, our Creator made sure He bought it back to Himself by paying a great price. And now the Holy Spirit lives in it as His temple.
I don’t know why we sell ourselves so cheap trying to fit to a worldly, temporary standard. God created our bodies so we can use it to honor Him. He created it to bring Him glory. Your body has been designed by God with an eternal purpose.
Take care of it well and use it for what it was intended for.