I find myself playing “tug of war” with God.
I’m tugging on one end of the rope and he’s tugging on the other.
And the rope is my will.
Of course, it’s a little absurd, really – he could easily win the contest with one Almighty pull – and there’s nothing I could do about it.
But he doesn’t do that. Instead, he just gently tugs whenever I start taking my will back, in the hopes that I will voluntarily let him win.
This is the game we play.
Tug of war with my will.
But here’s the irony in this game we play: in winning, I lose; and in losing, I win.
“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 25And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9:24-25)
Thus, our game is not about dominance, but surrender.
It’s not about force, but persuasion.
It’s not about war, but peace.
Oh, and of course… there’s the fans.
Some are cheering for us to let go – and win!
“Come on, you can do it! Just let go!”
That’s our church family.
Others are cheering for us to pull harder – and lose!
“Come on, you can do it! Just pull harder!”
That’s the world.
And then, there’s the Coaches…
One is showing us how to let go – and win!
“Just do what I did. Just trust God!”
The other is showing us how to pull harder – and lose!
“Just do what I did. Just be your own God!”
Tug of War with God - it’s the oldest game in history.
Satan was the first to take the rope back and he’s been persuading others to do the same ever since.
Jesus was the first to fully let it go and he’s been persuading others to do the same ever since, as well.
Whenever we tug – we’re being like Satan.
And whenever we let go – we’re being like Jesus.
It’s pretty amazing, really, that we even have the choice.
After all, God is stronger than all of us.
But he’s also wiser and more loving than all of us – and in his wisdom and love, he lets us decide – day by day, hour by hour, sometimes moment by moment whether to pull on that rope or let go.
Oh, and there’s one more thing… the cheat code.
(Here's the definition of a “cheat code” for anyone over 50 :-) – “A cheat code is generally a code, method or device used by gamers to advance levels, or to get other special powers and benefits in a video game.” -Techopedia)
The Christian’s cheat code is the Holy Spirit.
He’s how we “advance levels, or get other special powers and benefits” in this game.
And we can’t win without him.
“How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:3, NLT)
This verse convicts me every time I read it.
Any victory of surrender I’ve had in my Christian life has come from relying on the power of God’s Spirit to let go. But for some reason, I keep trying to do it myself – in my own power. And that only leads to repeated failure.
(Probably has something to do with listening to the wrong Coach and the wrong fans.)
Q: So, what are the keys to winning this game of tug of war?
(winning by surrendering to God, that is)
1) Remember the goal: we win by surrendering our will to God. (Luke 9:24-25)
(Those are the rules.)
2) Be inspired by the right fans: “Come on, you can do it! Just let go!”
(That’s your church family.)
3) Listen to the right Coach: “Just do what I did. Just trust God!”
4) Use the cheat code: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13)
(That’s the Spirit)
“Our Father… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
Help us to surrender our wills to you, Father, as our Lord, Jesus did:
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42)