Where do I get the power to change? If you’ve struggled with addiction long enough, you’ve asked yourself this question before. Whether it’s the alcohol that no longer numbs your pain or the depression that used to come and go but now hasn’t left in quite awhile, you’ve known you need to change. You’ve wanted to clean yourself up. You’ve even been willing to get help. Your ‘want to’ is not the problem. Some moments, either in the depths of despair or feeling empowered by a transcendent moment of clarity, your desire to change has actually made the difference, for awhile. But it just doesn’t seem to be enough.
You’ve gone through countless cycles of guilt and shame, promises followed by more guilt and shame. Change happens for awhile, but your willpower always gives out sooner or later, to the point where you might be tempted to lose hope. We can have hope because of Jesus, but hope isn’t enough to change your life. You need power. The power of God, the same power that created this universe with a spoken word and the power that raised Jesus from the dead, that power is available to everyone who believes in Jesus. So why aren’t more Christians leveraging the power of God within them? Because it hasn’t been unleashed.
The answer is at Burger King. What?? For 40 years, all during the years I was growing up, the slogan of Burger King was “Have it your way.” The reason this slogan was so popular was because it resonates so well with our human nature, our sin nature, that part of us that seems so appealing yet in the end keeps us enslaved. We want to have things our way. We want to be in control. We want God to save us, but we want him to save us our way, in the manner we choose, and in the end we want to treat it like we’re hiring out God to do a service for us (save our eternal souls), but we’re still in control. We want to have it our way. But in the eternal words of Homey the Clown from the deeply theological show 90s In Living Color, “Homey don’t play that.”
When we stay in the driver’s seat, when we stay in control, we’re the ones have to fight our sin nature on our own, and it’s just too powerful for us.
25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25
In short, Jesus is talking about surrender. We don’t like to surrender, we don’t like to give up, we don’t like to lose, at all. But if we hold onto control, if we hold onto the way we do things, if we insist on having things our way, in the end we’ll lose everything. Some of you are living that right now. You’re living with a lifetime of long-term regrets because you just had to have it your way. You just had to maintain control, you held on too long, you got exactly what you wanted, until you didn’t want it anymore. You sacrificed long-term joy for short-term happiness. You tried to save your life, and you lost it.
But if we surrender, if we do it God’s way, if we let go, if we give up control to Jesus, we’ll find the life we’ve always wanted. It seems completely counter-intuitive but this is a deep deep truth: freedom comes through surrender.