The only way we can experience the life God has for us is to give up trying to acquire it on our own. We must surrender ourselves completely to God. This is not merely a matter of believing that our attempts to acquire worth and significance (some of the ways that we do this were discussed in) are idolatrous and unsatisfying. We can easily believe this and yet fail to relinquish our idols and surrender to God. We enter into the life of God only when our false gods have in fact been relinquished and only when God is in fact reigning over our life.
To the extent that our identity is rooted in what the New Testament calls the “flesh”—giving up our false gods will feel like a kind of death. In fact, it is a kind of death, for the “old self” that relies on idols to feel worthwhile and significant is being killed. This is why Jesus said that we must lose our life to find it (Matt 16:25).
Still, as scary and as difficult as dying to this false way of living may initially be, nothing could be more liberating. Living with perpetual hunger, spending most of our mental life in the past and future, chasing after pathetic false gods, is complete bondage. When we cling to things that we know we will eventually lose, we inevitably find ourselves in a state of worry, anger, jealousy, envy, frustration, strife, violence, and despair—things Paul referred to as the “works of the flesh” (Gal 5:19). To die to the flesh is the greatest liberation possible.
As we are freed from the grand illusion that we can meet our own needs, our built-in homing device begins to work correctly. We’re on our way home. And we don’t have to strive to find it. On the contrary, the instant we relinquish the world of idols and turn to God, he is there. In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). There is nowhere we can run and hide from his presence (Ps 139:8).
The moment we surrender, we are home. In fact, the moment we stop chasing and clinging we discover that we never really left home. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we wake up from a dream and discover that all we’ve been looking for surrounds us at every moment. When we stop looking at the world as though God is not with us and we have to make it on our own, we find we are surrounded each and every moment with a love that infuses our life with a value that couldn’t possibly be improved on.
Coming home is simply waking up from the illusion that you aren’t already there.
—Adapted from Present Perfect, pages 52-54