Surrender the Agenda
I appreciate the title of this blog 'surrender the agenda' sounds like some cheesy management guff (and perhaps it is) but hear me out as I found it particularly helpful in the pursuit of fullness.
Hi-five for a staged managed management photo of managers #surrendertheagenda
Now from heinous rhyming titles to a very over used Christian source, especially for blogs and sermons, Narnia. Don't worry I'm not about to tell you, "he's not a tame lion." I appreciate that if you've been in church any amount of time you'll have heard that one a few times already.
No instead I want to talk to you about 'Prince Caspian' the second Narnian adventure of the Pevensie family. Caspian has blown Queen Susan's magical horn to call for aid in his fight against his evil uncle Miraz. The Pevensie children are pulled out of England and back into Narnia as a result. The problem is that they're nowhere near Caspian. So with the help of a Dwarf they set out to travel to him. Peter (the High King) takes the lead. At one point they find themselves needing to cross a great river. Lucy, the youngest (and best) member of the family, spies Aslan the Great Lion and believes he's telling her which way they should go to cross. (Up the hill). No-one else sees him. The result is that, despite Lucy's protestation, Peter leads the troupe down the hill and eventually into trouble. His reasoning being that common sense and 'knowing a thing or two about the world and the way it works' should prevail over faith.
He's not a tame lion - Oh, darn it, I mean something about surrendering our agenda...
So hand ups, I'm like Peter. "I think I know how this works God. I've got this. I'm a grown up now." (I sound like I'm in a 'Huggies' advert). Speaking of babies, we do so easily forget the precious qualities of child-like faith. Which by the way is different to 'childish faith', something which alas seems a lot more common in our churches than the former. That aside, we forget how to trust like Lucy. Aslan is there and he said travel this way so that's the way we should go. This is when I like Peter would puff out my chest, possibly reminding myself of all the theological qualifications I have, before telling Lucy, it's not that simple and one day you'll understand. Now sometimes it isn't. Granted. But regardless of the simplicity of the situation there is the deepest call, to follow where He leads, regardless of whether it makes sense or not.
The result of the Pevensie's deciding they know better isn't great. The result for me...worse...yeh, worse... stress, anxiety, an inability to process emotion, feeling burdened and a general f-off grumpiness. On these days I would happily walk around with a tee-shirt on that said "nobody talk to me because currently I hate you."
Here's a snap of me from last week
Here's the thing. You and I don't actually know how God works. We haven't got him all figured out. We don't know what he's up all the time. So why do we assume we know at the start of the day how it's going to pan out? Taking all the faith out of the day SUCKS. It's so flipping boring. I don't want to tell God what I'm doing today and ask him to bless it. I want to ask God what's he's doing today and join in with it. I want to, are you ready for it, 'surrender my agenda'. Today is not the same as yesterday. I cannot assume I know how it's going to play out. I don't want to give God a tiny little pen and say work within the ways I've decided you work. I want the wide open fields of adventure where endless possibilities await because God gets to set the agenda. It's time to let go of control.
Wide open fields of possibility = much.more.fun. (fullness)
From our smallest daily plans, to the large life choices, we can 'surrender our agenda'. Surrender is a needed spiritual discipline in the pursuit of fullness. This weekend I will be ordained, or getting 'rev'd up' as I have come to refer to it. This is just one more chance for me to publicly surrender to God and his agenda. I will answer the questions I'm asked with the phrase 'by the grace of God I will'.
I cannot hope to fulfil the calling before me (which is actually the calling before all of us) without the generous outpouring of the grace of God. I need grace everyday. I need Jesus everyday. There is no hope for me outside of these. Last week I aced 'surrendering my agenda' for a whole three days. Monday to Wednesday were awesome. On Thursday I puffed out my chest and told God I had it all covered and by Sunday I was a grumpy mess.
Monday me vs Sunday me - always better to surrender the agenda
So how do we combat this? I think as humans we're always looking to 'arrive'. We have a sense that eventually 'we'll get there'. Where is there? Maybe a place without brokeness, without problems, without rushing, without doing our own nuts with our issues. Perhaps you are familiar with such a feeling? The worst possible idea, it seems to us, when feeling this driving force is to surrender. That would mean accepting ourselves as we are. Risk being stuck here. We can't have that. So we take control and push on to 'arrival'. But, like the common swift, we never land. (Seriously research it, they spend their whole lives in the air!) Arrival eludes us.
Not a common swift
Arrival is not feeling capable, it is being in the hands of Jesus. Arrival is to surrender our agenda to Jesus and just follow him where ever he leads us. In Jesus we are already home.
So I seek to start each day being honest with Jesus about where I'm at and then surrendering my agenda to his. I look him in the face and tell him I want to follow him today WHATEVER that looks like. This morning that means not doing all the work I had planned to do and instead writing this blog so you'd better like it.
I'll leave you with the Methodist Covenant Renewal Prayer that sits above my desk. Maybe you can use it as the starting place to 'surrender your agenda' and take another step towards the fullness of life that Jesus wants to release you into.
I am no longer my own but yours,
Send me where you will,
Rank me with whom you will,
Let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exulted for you,
or bought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty;
let me have all things,
let me have nothing.
Freely and wholeheartedly I yield my life,
and all I possess to your pleasure and disposal.