The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

The Joy of Being Powerless in Your Relationship with God

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In our material, we say that choosing to fully submit to God is the road that will lead you to epic soul joy and satisfaction.  In other words, it’s a glorious thing to fully embrace your identity as a powerless speck of a creature in your relationship with God. In fact, the more you face just how powerless, limited, and dependent you are, the happier your soul will be.

Now this line of logic sounds quite backwards to many people.  And after listening to us talk about the joy of being powerless, some people decide that we are dysfunctional messes whose view of God has been warped by traumas that we’ve been through with humans.  In the Church today, the joy of total submission to God isn’t talked about because this is a more advanced concept which has to do with spiritual maturity, and mainstream Christianity encourages souls to settle for a very immature stage of spiritual development.  But for those of you who want to dig into the deeper mysteries of God, we’re now going to explain why submitting to God and totally abandoning your efforts to hang onto power in your relationship with Him results in such soul joy and peace.

HUMANS & POWER

When it comes to your relationships with humans, power must be balanced for relationships to work.  If you give a human too much power over you, the relationship will become abusive.  So with humans, you must not only learn to demand an appropriate amount of power, but you must also learn to refuse excessive power.  Let’s take the man whose wife is trying to give him total control over her by refusing to voice any of her personal preferences.  Even when she’s upset by what the man does with her, she won’t draw boundaries.  By refusing to speak up for herself when she should, the woman is giving the man too much power.  In such a situation, the man needs to refuse the extra power and insist that the woman start vocalizing her preferences so that he can respect them.  This is how a balance of power will be restored, thus protecting both partners from an abusive dynamic.

With humans, power must be constantly juggled back and forth to keep relationships healthy.  But with God, it’s a totally different game.  In your relationship with God, you must learn to keep relinquishing power to Him and stop trying to hold back power for yourself.  This is where submission comes in.  Submission says, “I don’t like what You’re doing, but I’ll go along with it anyway.  Because I recognize that You outrank me, I will accept You dominating me.”  Now in the case of God, He doesn’t just outrank you by a little–He infinitely outranks you.  This is why total submission is a must with God, but it is never okay to give total submission to a mere human.

If you give another human total submission, it is guaranteed that they will start abusing you–it’s just a matter of time.  This is because humans are not designed to handle having absolute power–it always brings out the worst in us.  Even a helpless infant must be given some degree of power by his parents, and the parents do this by responding to the infant’s cry for essential needs like food and dry clothing.  If instead a parent says, “I will only do something for my baby when I personally find it convenient to do so,” then that is a case of total domination, and the infant will end up suffering terribly.  The old saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely” is quite true when it comes to humans.

GOD & POWER

Now after spending your whole life dealing with other humans in this world, you’ve figured out that having no power is a great way to get yourself abused, so it sounds like a terrible idea to intentionally give away all of your power in your relationship with God.  Humans automatically assume that if they take a position of total submission with God (which is the same as inviting Him to totally dominate them) He will become an abusive monster.  In other words, they expect that God will act like a human.  And yet the truth is that He will not.

God is the only Being you’ll ever meet who can handle absolute power without turning into a monster.  When we say that God is good, we mean that He is good in the context of being an All-Powerful Creator.  That’s a pretty foreign idea–you won’t find goodness combined with absolute power in the human realm, and you won’t find it with angelic beings, either.  It’s only God who remains kind, gracious and compassionate towards creatures who He totally dominates.

It takes a lot of time to grasp how radically different your relationship with God is from your relationship with other humans.  But the more you listen to God and follow His promptings to keep deepening your submission to Him, the more you’re going to start experiencing a very strange thing happening: you will discover that you actually like being dominated by God.  Much to your surprise, you will begin to notice that things are working in your relationship with God which you know wouldn’t work at all in your relationships with other humans.

Sex is a very useful example here.  Would you want to have sex with a random stranger who you weren’t even attracted to?  No, you’d find it repulsive and violating.  Would you want to have sex with one of your parents?  No, that sounds very wrong and gross.  But if you fell deeply in love with a peer and ended up marrying that person, then suddenly sex sounds like a great idea.  In all of these scenarios we’re talking about the same behavior–a behavior which is meant to occur between two humans–and yet in some relationships it would feel very wrong, while in other relationships it would seem very right.  While the action of having sex remains the same, it’s who you’re having sex with that makes it seem fabulous or horrible.

Sex is just one of many elements we could name which range from seeming very bad to very good depending on who you’re engaging with.  In the same way, there are many elements in your relationship with God which are only positive because you are dealing with God.  If you were to take those same elements and put them into human relationships, they would suddenly become very bad, harmful, and repulsive.

Powerlessness is something which only becomes positive when you’re dealing with God.  Why is this?  Because you are powerless in your relationship with God, and you are supposed to relate to Him as a powerless being.  But you are not powerless in your relationships with other humans, and you’re not supposed to relate to them as a powerless being.  Other humans are your equals, and you are supposed to relate to them on a basis of equality, which is why God says: “Treat others the way you’d want to be treated.”  But God does not say: “Treat Me the way you’d want to be treated.”  Instead, He says: “Love Me with all that you are.  Give Me everything.  Invite Me to completely dominate you and to have My way in your life.”  The difference is huge.

When you totally submit to God, it’s like settling down into a soft chair.  The chair was designed to only be comfortable if you sit in it: not if you stand or kneel.  When you sit in the chair, you are adjusting your posture to match what the chair is designed to receive.  When you engage with the chair in the way that it’s designer intended, you end up very comfortable.  When you try to engage with the chair in a way that it was not intended to accommodate, you end up feeling very uncomfortable.

The closer you move to a position of total submission to God, the closer you are to relating to Him in the way that He designed you to want to relate to Him.  At first, you fight it.  Your pride hates the idea of submitting to God and you try to get Him to accept some kind of compromise.  But when God sees that you are serious about wanting to please Him, He keeps prodding you to submit more fully to Him.  His constant prodding makes you feel uncomfortable and discontent in your current dynamic with Him.  You know that you haven’t settled in yet—you haven’t found the right position.  When God tells you that greater submission is what’s needed, you don’t trust Him and you don’t believe Him.  You think He’s luring you into some kind of trap and trying to lock you into a position that you’ll feel terribly uncomfortable in.  But what God is actually doing is teaching you how you were designed to function in your relationship with Him.  He is not tricking you, but instead He’s leading you towards a dynamic that He knows will bring you the most satisfaction.

Life with God is full of ironic twists.  So often something that seems logically right ends up being all wrong, and the thing that seems all wrong ends up being fabulous.  Total surrender is one of those strange ironies.  It seems like such a dangerous idea to say to an all-powerful God, “Have Your total way with me.”  It sounds like a trap and a set up for misery.  In this world, humans resent being dominated, enslaved, and bossed about, so why on earth would we want to sign up for such things in our relationship with God?  Because He’s God, and what will make us happy with Him is quite different than what will make us happy with other humans.

When you decide to embrace a soul attitude of submission to God, it’s like you begin a long, slow slide into that very comfortable chair.  Each time He prompts you to surrender some new area of your life and you do, you get closer to being in the right position to get maximum comfort out of that soft chair.  This is why we say that there is immense soul joy and satisfaction which comes through total surrender to God.  It’s not logical, and yet this is how it works, because we humans were designed by God to feel the most content when we are welcoming His absolute domination of us.  We were designed to find joy and relief in being totally dependent on Him.  We were designed to find peace through trusting Him, and to find security and a strange kind of comfort through deep reverence for Him.  In short, God intentionally created us to really, really like who He made us to be.  He certainly didn’t have to set things up this way.  After all, what’s it to Him if we enjoy being limited, powerless specks?  And yet God purposefully designed us to experience greater joy as we grow in our obedience to Him.  The more we say “yes” to Him on a soul level, the more we find ourselves wanting to say yes.  Obedience goes from being a chore to being a thrilling adventure.  We find ourselves eagerly waiting for God to ask us to do something because we find it so satisfying to serve Him. We rush to respond to His convictions because we love the fact that He is engaging with us (see Understanding Conviction: Invitations to Engage).  We lose all interest in gaining power, and instead we’re so relieved to know that He has all of the power, because we trust that He knows how to manage it far better than we do.  We aren’t threatened by what we don’t know because He knows everything and we feel safe in His care.  We want Him to reign over us—totally and eternally—because we feel so content in our role as His servants.

This is how it always works with God: if you listen to Him, He leads you to fabulous places.  If you rebel against Him, He causes you to languish.  This is why we will always urge you to choose the path of submission and ask God to help you learn everything He wants to teach you.  It is only by pursuing the right dynamic with God—the dynamic that He wants you to have with Him—that you will thrive.

FURTHER READING:
The Element of Power in Human Relationships
Choosing the Right Priorities: How does God want us to treat our brothers?
Total Surrender to God: Understanding the Process
Practicing Submission in the Way that We Pray
Understanding Jesus: “Take My yoke upon you…”

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