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“I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender. I surrender all.” Familiar words from a powerful and moving hymn. It captures the essence of what we are called to if we want to have a relationship with Jesus that avails to us all the wonders of His Holy Spirit and the joys of His promises for us. Many, countless many, believers have started with this song’s thesis as the anthem of their spiritual beginnings.
I know I did.
Then something totally unexpected happened. I found, in reality, that I did not surrender all. I would have said that I did. I would have professed with conviction that I did. But God didn’t see it that way. He sees into our hearts and can more correctly ascertain if we did indeed surrender all. Truth be told, most believers, to surrender all is a lifetime journey not a “one and done” event.
How does God bring us to this point, repeatedly, that unequivocally proves we have not surrendered all? His love for us is His motivation. The evidence is typically an internal one, deep within our hearts that tell us all is not yet well with our soul. We find ourselves almost arguing with God over the things that befall us, or our loved ones. We insist that God invite us to the table and include us in His decision making as we struggle intensely with what is going on in our world. We discover that we are almost demanding God change because we feel we have a justifiable position. It may be seems contrary to what He values. We sense that societal norms are somehow more the way to go than what the Bible advocates. He is supposed to listen to my input, to hear my side of this journey of faith. Yet He seems to have no such interest.
In all of this, our hearts are stressing and we’re not enjoying the rest, peace and hope we got from our salvation experience. If we’re willing to be honest about it, that is.
There is something in all of us, even the redeemed, that tends to want to insist that God see life through our eyes and if He did, He would see that we are right, that we have more to offer Him and that we have great ideas on how to improve on His notions of salvation and sanctification. These ideas address the wide array of issues that have unsettled us in the past or are stressing us in the present. Whether that is how God should save a loved one, or that He needs to be more active in dealing with social ills, to our insistence on a democratic process to validate key points of theology, we have these ideas that we believe will truly help God be more successful in today’s world.
God Doesn't Do Focus Groups
by John Van Veen
And isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t we want God and His Son to see more success in our world, especially in our COVID drenched world? We want Him to add us to His Focus Group…but, we find, He does not do Focus Groups.
This isn’t a new desire. We see it in the writings of David, Jeremiah, Solomon and the like from the Old Testament. Job, too, for that matter. A compelling desire to help God fix what we view as being broken. My book is an attempt to outline the various ways we, as believers usually, demand that God come to the table and negotiate with us, soliciting our ideas so that HE can be more in demand in our world. This book looks at how we try to leverage God into doing a “focus group” with us and, ultimately, why it is in our best interest that He simply keep on ignoring our calls to do so.
Reading this book, my prayer is, it will help the reader see where they may have embraced this very human desire and in doing so, are losing the peace and rest and hope we have when we truly trust Him in all things, where we truly have surrendered all. My desire is that this book leads the reader to see the source of confusion and frustration in his/her walk with the Lord and provide the clarity that allows a returning to the joy of our salvation.
To help with this, we’ve also started a podcast series reviewing each chapter. You can find these by going to any podcast source and searching for God Doesn’t Do Focus Groups. May He bring rest to your soul as you read, as you listen, and as you seek Him.