While hanging with the Millenders recently, we all watched as Bella wandered from one temptation to the next -a full mug on the coffee table, the fireplace poker, etc. After hearing a firm "no" we waited curiously each time to see how she would respond. And if she walked away from the forbidden fruit, as it were, she was rewarded by rounds of "good girl, good choice Bella!" UP went the hands and she would circle the area triumphantly. Her face saying something like "Oh yeah, I did it! I overcame my sin nature and I am the victor!" (Maybe it was more like -"oooh, people are staring and smiling at me" but I choose to believe she is a great theologian in the making.)
I couldn't help but think -what if every time I overcame temptation I threw off my inhibitions and celebrated openly with hands up praising Jesus for the victory? I bet I'd have lots more opportunities to share the Gospel (especially with my new friends in the Wake Med Psych Ward). Wouldn't if feel good now and then to just jump up and down and shout "We did it, Jesus! Yes!"? Victory is sweet.
Ah, but so is surrender.
It wasn't until yesterday that Bella's new move (not to be confused with The Emporer's new groove) taught me an even greater lesson. We were eating lunch -a tedious time at our house. Bella fights hard to be picky. I fight hard to discourage her pickiness. So far, the table is our fiercest battle ground. She was supposed to be eating some chicken noodle concoction care of Gerber but wanted to be eating the left over pizza that the other kids were enjoying. She has two teeth so clearly a whole slice of pizza is not yet an option but I decided to strike a compromise: three bites of chicken stuff for one bite of pizza crust. She was cooperating but she wasn't enjoying it.
I would say "open up" and slowly she would open her mouth and in went the spoon before she could change her mind. She cried but she chewed. The kids and I would encourage her and say "you did it, Bella. Good girl!" And with her face contorted by sorrow and great big tears in her eyes, she would lift her little hands over her head.
There it is. Truth revealed by a one year old. Every victory starts with surrender. Surrender of self, surrender of time, energy, wants, feelings, comfort, and on and on. We are more than conquerors through Christ -joyous victory! But only when we daily take up our cross to follow Him -tearful surrender!
And if you need a better example than Bella well, there's always Jesus. He (and by default we) could never have tasted victory over sin and death, if not for His agonizing surrender in the garden.
So, maybe you are like me and you want to experience the joy and thrill of more and greater victories in life. I guess the question now is...what are we willing to surrender?