Yielded to Jesus
The secret of happiness is to be yielded to Jesus Christ. The happiness he gives is not having everything go as we wish. If we seriously endeavor to yield to Christ, life may become more difficult in the short term. It is no small matter to invite him into your life, to ask him to take control of your life. He will push on areas you prefer he left alone. He will expose idols that are difficult to forsake. The happiness he gives, however, is worth the struggle: his help, God’s favor, seeing and embracing the glorious eternal in the challenging temporal.
To be yielded to our Lord means that we attempt to make no deals with him. I will give up this, Lord, if you let me keep this. I will do what you ask of me, if you will give me this one thing that I want. He gives happiness on his terms. Listen carefully. In his wisdom, when you determine to yield to him, he may want you to remain a little bruised and weakened in an area of past sin in your life. He may want a particular circumstance to remain unchanged so that you keep feeling his “turn to me” pressure. His yoke is easy, but his purposes embrace more than this life. He sees the whole pattern of your life for all eternity. Tears now; rejoicing later. Struggle now; peace forever.
The failure to take this into account is one reason that many Christians have very unrealistic expectations about what it means to follow Jesus. Following him does not mean that we shall be completely “fixed” in this life or that our marriages will be everything that we want them to be or that our children will grow up without testing us. We must get rid of the notion that we know what is best for us or that we can control him. Frankly, we usually have no idea what is best for us, which is also the reason that we have mistaken ideas of happiness, and thus are frustrated.
Take your calling. When you finished high school or graduated from college, you had career path expectations. You laid out everything – the kinds of jobs you would have, your rise through the ranks, increasing remuneration, and eventual retirement with sufficient funds to live comfortably. Few Christians consider seriously that this may not be Jesus’ will for their lives. You mean he may not want me to have the American dream? Exactly. He may bring vocational frustration into your life and keep you struggling to make ends meet. We can respond to this kind of scenario in a variety of ways, but only one will make us happy. We must yield to his direction, his shepherding of our lives. We may never know his reasons. All we need to do is to trust his wisdom and lay down our wills at his feet.
These scenarios could be multiplied. Each believer, married couple, family, and congregation is specifically governed by Jesus in the way that accomplishes his purposes. I know that whole industries, in the world and in the church, grow rich and influential by telling men how to make their lives better. Some of their principles may even work for a time. Whether or not you pursue them, ask yourself, “Am I yielded to Jesus as I pursue this course of action? Is my desire to please and obey him?” Or, “is my desire to have life on my terms?” Remember that Jesus Christ is our ultimate reality. He is the living and reigning King and Savior, and not to make him our chief consideration in our planning and expectations is the greatest folly. It will lead to frustration and lost blessing.
This may explain much of the spiritual depression and the various psychoses that strike many Christians. We do not reckon adequately with Christ’s full ownership and lordship of our lives. He purchased us with his blood. We are not our own. If we live as if we are our own, sins take root and affect our entire lives. Guilt and frustration increase and with them the feverish effort to find relief on our terms: changed circumstances, appearances, even husbands. Yet, the reason we have encountered these seemingly insurmountable hurdles is that we have not deferred to his ownership and sovereignty over our lives. If we remember that he rules us by love and wisdom, and thus yield to him, then we shall find his yoke easy and his burden light. On the other hand, if we chafe against the circumstances he brings or play the victim when life does not go as we prefer, his yoke will be heavy. Knowing him will not be satisfying.
This is not something that is much discussed, but it is possible to be a very dissatisfied Christian, to be very dissatisfied and even bitter with Jesus. Sincere Christians can have a root of bitterness in their lives that prevents them from having the joy Jesus promises to us. Bitterness is essentially unresolved stubbornness in holding on to a personal “right.” It can spring from a hurt that one never forgives or an expectation that is never fulfilled but that is held on to as a condition of personal happiness. The believer may be unaware that he is bitter against the Lord, instead taking out his frustrations on his spouse or children. The one way to overcome bitterness is to honestly examine one’s heart before the Lord. What have I implicitly (or explicitly) demanded from the Lord as a condition that I will be happy? Or love those around me? Or serve them cheerfully? Bitterness is deceptive, and it usually masks itself under fault-finding in others. If they would only do what they should, then this would not be happening. This may be true, but behind their failures is the hand of Jesus in your life. It is his yoke he has placed upon us, even in the failings of those closest to us. Will I yield to his hand or slap it away?
Worse than bitterness is apathy toward Jesus (Rev. 3:15-16). A believer struggling with bitterness is likely trying to reckon with him. He may still be praying and seeking, crying out for help and wisdom. Apathy, however, signals deeper relational issues with Jesus. It no longer cares. It may go through the motions of religion to keep up appearances, but it is not wrestling with him. It is not struggling to yield but has simply given up. Well, since he has not given me what I want, I do not care. Closet religion and Sabbath opportunities are neglected. Like the turtle enclosed in its shell, the apathetic believer becomes emotionally enfolded upon himself. He hides, licks his wounds, blames others, and blames God.
To be yielded to Jesus is to say, “Lord, although this circumstance or problem is not what I would prefer, I know you have brought it into my life. You are sifting me. It hurts. I do not like it. But I sincerely want to submit to your Lordship in my life. So, help me to yield to you.” The yielded heart then draws close to Jesus and his word, seeks to grow in union and communion with him, and to praise him for exactly those difficulties that might have caused bitterness.
The beauty of being yielded to Jesus can be seen in the mother of many young children, who rather than complaining against each day’s labor, strife, and unrequited kindness, keeps looking to Jesus and giving out cups of cold water in his name. The single believer, rather than demanding that God provide a spouse or giving way to pouting and discontent, embraces the fact that being single enables him to serve his Lord without the daily responsibilities (and blessings) of family responsibilities. The believer struggling with a serious disease or progressively debilitating one, sees the hand of Jesus behind it and learns to bless him for the weakness (2 Cor. 12:10).
When we give up deal-making, bitterness, and pouting, and instead devote ourselves to obeying him in our particular circumstances, Jesus shows himself to us (John 14:21). There is no other way to know him closely and satisfyingly except in the path of obedience. “The secret of the Lord is with those that fear him: and he will show them his covenant” (Ps. 25:14). If we yield to him, he will show us himself: his limitless supplies of strength to endure, his pure joy in obeying his Father, and his peace through yielding to the will of his Father (John 16:31).
Try him on this, child of God. See if he will not make your places of misery gardens of delight, your most difficult circumstances opportunities to see his power at work in you (Joel 2:13-14). Do not settle for remaining in the outer rooms of life with Jesus. Go in further. Do so by giving up your demands and hurts, laying them at his feet. Submit your expectations to him. Lay all down upon the altar of love and consecration to him that loves us. Tell him your sorrows and fears. His heart is tender and open to you. He will give himself to you if you will yield yourself to him. In the process, much of your bitterness, pain, and frustration will go away. Jesus will heal you of them. Those that he does not heal but chooses to leave in your life, he will carry you and them so that you learn to boast in your weakness. His power will rest upon you, and you will walk steadfastly toward heaven knowing and rejoicing in Jesus as your happiness.