Altar Vision Devotional - Week 8 How is surrender a spiritual discipline?

Scripture

Decoration image for quotation

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

Luke 9:23-25

Reflection

Once upon a time there was a monkey that found a jar full of peanuts. It put its hand into the jar and grabbed as many peanuts as possible. In doing so its fist was stuck in the jar. By grasping, it was not only denied the peanuts but its freedom by the unwieldy jar. Only by surrendering the peanuts did it become free again.

The goal of the spiritual disciplines is freedom. They are not to be pursued as a means of earning God's grace nor are they meant to be a form of painful penitence. They are an expression of longing, love and joy.

The word disciple and discipline are rooted in the idea of learning. Jesus says that the one who would learn his ways must take up their cross and follow him. The cross in his day was a symbol of death, the ultimate surrender of all of one's ability, hopes and dreams. When we accept and come to terms with the idea of our death we become truly alive. Moreover, Jesus calls us to do this daily. A person who carries their cross is willing and prepared to surrender everything every day. This letting go of pride and preconceptions allows the learning of a new way - the way of Jesus.

When we surrender our own agenda for our life we become free to serve the purposes of God. Every moment of our life becomes imbued with beauty and not taken for granted. This willingness to surrender all that we are and have or hope to be is a daily process, a spiritual discipline through which we learn to inspect the hidden nooks and crannies of our hearts for what we hold onto so tightly.

Call to Action

Consider what it is in your own life that you grasp other than Christ. Pray for the wisdom and courage to know what you need let go of and what you are being invited to. Let go of your peanuts and be free.

Prayer

Lord, give me only your love and your grace for with these I have all that I need and I have no more to ask. Help me to let go of the things that bind me. Open my fists that I may live with open hands free to both surrender and receive from you every day. Amen.

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About the author

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Ted Ng holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature (B.A. (Hons.), University of Waterloo) along with a Master’s degree (M.Div., Regent College) and a Doctorate in Christian Spirituality (D. Min., Fuller Theological Seminary). In 1993, he interned as a pastor at Christ Church of China. Then, beginning in 1995, he served on the pastoral team at Lord’s Grace Church for 12 years. He was ordained in 2000. In 2007, God invited Ted to plant F3C with him in response to the needs in Vancouver’s Christian community. Ted has been committed to the spiritual formation and training of pastors for over 20 years through apprenticeship, mentoring, and teaching. He has served as an adjunct professor at Carey Theological College. His interests are in Spiritual Theology, Pastoral Formation, Intercultural Engagement, Next Generation Chinese Ministry and Missional Church Ministry.

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