I remember those lazy school boy Saturday afternoons. We’d watch fuzzy re-runs of “Gunsmoke” on an old black and white television. Each week, it seems, the gun-waving sheriff and his men would slide panting mounts to a halt and announce triumphantly to the cornered villains; “You’re surrounded! Lay down your weapons!” That meant not only no escape, but more importantly, it was the cue for the end titles to appear.
I might have remembered it wrong, but the principle still holds true. God has us cornered, and it’s time for us to lay down our weapons, and to realise we’re surrounded not by law - but by his love. God is ready to roll the titles - not for an ending, but rather, for a new beginning in each of our lives!
But just like the sheriff, God is looking for unconditional surrender: our acceptance that God just possibly knows what is best for our lives - even when his desert trail seems to make no rational sense. That’s faith. And while the law makes surrender compulsory, God, like the loving father that he really is, leaves the options ultimately to us.
Yet he keeps calling. To go higher with him. As heavenly partners, to reach out and do the impossible. To change our world. Yes, even to embrace the foolishness - and the power - of the Cross and all it stands for in our lives, yet always leaving the response in the fickle hands of our free will.
Perhaps that’s part of what Jesus meant when he told his disciples: “Many are called, but few are chosen”. 1 While God does the calling, it’s up to us to do the choosing. Oh the power of freedom of choice! - and how sad that so often we choose to ignore God’s greatest gift - perfectly found in Jesus Christ.
Just like the sheriff, God is looking for our unconditional surrender. For it is only then that he can become the real miracle-maker he wants to be in our lives. And if, in our stubborn pride we keep refusing, preferring to struggle on in natural strength; then just maybe one day God will simply swing around, snap at the reigns, and ride away in a gathering cloud of dust. Called, certainly.. but not chosen.
It has been known to happen. But that’s not the happy ending most of us are hoping for. Rather than risking that terrible aloneness a departing dust-cloud can suddenly bring, why don’t we just lay our arms down and simply “surrender to the sheriff”?
This edition of NETWORD Copyright 1999 by John E. Ruffle, London, England. All rights reserved.
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