Exploring God is an intellectual decision. There are certain things we must know about God to know that the One we are giving our lives to is real and not just imaginary. And different people may have different intellectual barriers. But the question is not “are all my intellectual questions answered,” because that will never happen, but “is there reasonable evidence that God exists and revealed Himself in Jesus?”
Exploring God is also an emotional decision . This aspect of faith is very much like other relational choices. Will I choose by faith to entrust myself to another person in marriage? Will I choose by faith to adopt this child and commit myself regardless of what happens? You can’t know the future, and your heart will be vulnerable to the ups and downs of love. It’s a decision of the heart. Do I want to trust God? Do I believe that He really does have my best interest in mind? Am I willing to seek to know Him and let Him lead my life? Will I give my heart to Him?
But the final barrier is spiritual, and the final decision is spiritual. Even after I had come to believe intellectually that Jesus really did reveal God (as much of the unseen, infinite God as we finite, limited creatures can conceive), and even after I felt like He could be trusted relationally (if He really did send Jesus to demonstrate such extravagant love), I still had a decision to make. It was a spiritual decision—a decision of the will. Pride is the barrier.
Pride tells us we must remain in control—at the center. As I was wrestling with the decision to let God into my life (which is a funny thought if you really consider it), I had this overwhelming fear of losing control. It’s amazing how this fear can cause people to just put off the decision to say “Yes” to God forever. In fact, pride wants us to stall making a decision long enough to get us busy and distracted with “more urgent things.” What helped me, and what I’ve found helps others at the crossroads of a faith decision, was realizing that I’m not as in control as my pride deceives me into thinking. Ask yourself (if wrestling with faith) or ask those wrestling:
“How many of your vital life functions can you willfully control? Your heartbeat? Your autoimmune system?
“How much control do you have over your emotions—ever been moody or discouraged or depressed when you didn’t really want to feel that way?”
“How much control do you really have over the circumstances of life or what other people can willfully do to ruin your great plans?”
“How much can you control disease or disasters or death that can completely sabotage life as you’ve planned it to be?”
So if we are not actually in control of much at all, what do we have to lose submitting ourselves to the One who is fully in control and promises to work all things for the good of those who love Him?
Pride tells us we know what’s best for us—even more than God. Pride will keep telling you not to submit your life to God because He will ruin your plans. This is ridiculous if we realize we had nothing to do in willing ourselves into existence. We didn’t choose to come to life with some master plan we brilliantly constructed, we just found ourselves alive and groping for a path forward. So if God is the One who said “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” It’s in our best interest, selfishly speaking, to submit to His plans willingly.
Pride tells us we must prove we’re strong, capable, right—never surrender. Because we’ve lived life apart from God, we’ve had the incredibly stressful burden of proving we’re not vulnerable, finite, and often wrong (ever said “I’ll never” or “one shouldn’t” but did it anyway?). We need forgiveness, we need God’s help, but pride has been telling us for years that to admit it is death—so we hide, deny, and rationalize.
Surrender is freedom. The spiritual decision that overcomes pride is surrender–trusting in God as God, the rightful CEO of life. It’s incredibly freeing to surrender this need to prove ourselves, try to control things out of our control, and always be right—it wears you out. God wants to free us from that burden. To help us be fully ourselves, yet forgiven and accepted, so He can help us grow into the people only He can help us become.
At the end of the day, you just have to decide. I often ask people, “Have you ever opened your heart to God’s forgiveness and leadership offered through Jesus?” If they say “No.” I ask, “Do you want to?” If they do, I ask if I can lead them in a prayer to let God in. Often it takes someone helping them simply decide—so pride doesn’t derail us for years. God has removed every barrier between every person and himself…except one—Pride. Don’t let pride stand in your way to the greatest decision (and the smartest) life will ever present.