“Moody, the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.” (Henry Varley to D.L.Moody)
This quote has been resonating with me lately. It is often credited to Dwight Moody, a shoe salesman turned evangelist who lived in the 1800’s. Moody, however, only quoted his friend Varley, whose statement in a private conversation rocked Moody’s world. Dwight took this statement to heart. He surrendered himself to the Lord to be fully consecrated and used by Him, and the results were astounding!
Varley may have had a point - that there has never been a man or woman who has completely and entirely surrendered every aspect of their lives to the Lord. However, there are certainly some great examples of what God will do in and through a man who surrenders even a part of their lives to Him. Moody was one such person. He was uneducated and was not ordained by any church, and yet he preached to an estimated 100 million people, and hundreds of thousands - perhaps even a million people came to a saving knowledge of Christ. Today he is considered one of the greatest evangelists who has ever lived.
Paul also exemplified what happens when a person is willing to surrender everything to the Lord to be used by Him. In his letter to the Romans, Paul encouraged believers to surrender or “offer” themselves to God as “instruments of righteousness.”
Romans 6:12-13 (NIV) “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.”
Paul certainly practiced what he preached, surrendering his life to Jesus on the road to Damascus. During his thirty-five year ministry he traveled to almost fifty cities, wrote at least thirteen letters to encourage believers in those cities, was imprisoned several times, was stoned, shipwrecked, and martyred for the cause of Christ. Without doubt, he offered every part of himself to God as an instrument of righteousness.
Reexamining Varley’s quote, who is today’s Paul? Or who is the D.L. Moody of this generation?
Lately, I have felt the Lord asking me this question. “Is there a man or woman who is willing to surrender themselves entirely to me to be used of me? Is there one who would consecrate themselves fully to me so that I can change the world through them?”
I want to say, “Oh, oh, oh, pick me, Lord! I am that person!” But then realty strikes and I wonder, “What on earth would that look like? What would it require of me?”
And so the word “surrender” echoes in my mind, challenging me and, quite frankly, terrifying me.
I confess to you that when I hear the word “surrender" the first thing that goes through my mind are the lines from my all-time favorite movie, The Princess Bride. Westley and Buttercup have narrowly escaped from the Fire Swamp and its three terrors, only to find themselves cornered by the evil Prince Humperdink and his men.
“Surrender!” commands Humperdink.
But Westley doesn’t give up easily. After some witty banter back and forth, Humperdink is fed up and cries in disgust, “For the last time, surrender!”
“Death! First!” declares Westley, defiantly.
It occurs to me…maybe Westley is right.
Maybe death does precede surrender.
Consider the portion of Romans that comes just before the verses above:
Romans 6:5-7 “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
And there it is. To surrender to God is to die to sin. My flesh is crucified so that I can be free to be completely consecrated to Him.
I think back to when my Savior was crucified. He surrendered Himself to do the will of the Lord in His death. And I think Varley was wrong. The world has seen what God can do through a man who is completely consecrated to Him. Jesus was that man. And He calls me to be that woman.