“What am I doing here?” The thought played on repeat as I stood in the prayer circle that August morning, listening to the young people around me. I was very uncomfortable. I hadn't been so uncomfortable in a long time, and I had certainly not expected to feel that way at prayer meeting.
God was close, so close. I hadn’t felt His presence that strongly for quite a while, and somehow I felt I couldn’t stand before Him – I was like Isaiah, crying out when He saw God’s glory, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man.” (Isa 6:5)
All at once I was painfully aware of my utter lukewarm-ness as a Christian, my unwillingness to truly surrender, my pride and selfishness, and the mixed motives I had gone to the prayer group with. When I arrived back at my dorm I got out my journal, and began to weep in spite of my best efforts not to as I recorded what God was saying to my heart.
I wanted to impress other people. In fact, I cared much more about what certain people thought of me than what God knew about my heart. I wanted everything that came out of my mouth during prayer to be deep, eloquent and inspiring – honestly, I was addressing my prayers more to the other young people in the circle than to God, and the realization shocked me.
I was reluctant to surrender fully to God (and this wasn’t the first time He’d been speaking to me about that). I knew that it had to be all or nothing, and that if I was serious about growing in my relationship with God, I was going to have to address some things in my life I’d rather ignore.
Would I pursue God for God? Would I follow Him when there was no one else around to see and think what an awesome, spiritual person I was?
I was completely crushed by the realization of the true state of my heart. Yet even as the sense of God’s nearness brought me to my knees in shame at my ugliness, I felt something else in God’s presence – overwhelming love. It sounds so cliché, I know, but I can’t describe it any other way. Somehow I knew that God was worth pursuing, that I could trust Him with my heart, fully surrendered. And I made the choice to yield.
The decision to surrender is one I have to wrestle with every day. I still struggle with my pride and desire to impress people, caring too much about their opinion of me. Some days I don’t want to ask God to take my whole self and give me an undivided heart. Yet each day God is showing me more and more that He is worth it. I am praying with ever-increasing honesty that I will love Him as He loves me – consistently and consumedly – regardless of who else is around and what they think of me.
(And for any SAU students reading this, if you haven’t been to the 7 am prayer group at the flagpole – check it out!)