Stop Trying and Start Dying

Quite a few years ago a gentleman come up to me after a 12 Step meeting asking if we could talk. He was totally broken and desperately looking for a way out of the destruction his disease had caused.

“How did you do it?” he asked me. “Because I keep trying, trying, and trying but nothing seems to be working! I’m at the point of giving up!”

Can you relate? Have you ever reached the point of giving up? Maybe not in relation to addiction but to something, or someone, else. Everyone arrives at this place at some point in their life. When what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working. When our solutions and strength aren’t enough.

“What do you mean, good?” He asked frustrated, bordering on angry.

“Good,” I told him. The surprise was evident by his jaw drop.

“Giving up is the first step,” I said. “What you’ve been doing, or trying, hasn’t been working and the sooner you give up the sooner you can get into a real solution.” His posture eased a bit.

“But I’ve been trying—,” I cut him off.

“That’s part of the problem. You’ve been trying. The first three steps are summarized: 1. I can’t 2. He can 3. I think I’ll let Him. This what I want you to do” he leaned in, “instead of trying more, I want you to start surrendering more,” I said, “remember the Serenity Prayer”

We spoke for a few more minutes then went our separate ways. I never saw him again. I’ve often thought of him. Wondering if he was ever able to surrender to the process of recovery and find freedom. Some do, sadly most don’t, and tragically many die. The solution, surrender, is easy simple, but not easy. Don’t confuse simple with easy. No one likes giving up control. It’s paradoxical, seems ludicrous, to give up in order to win. However, that is the secret sauce of success. We have to stop fighting in our own strength and surrender our lives to the care of God.

I was not, am not, some spiritual sage of recovery. But I had been where he was. I know what the bottom of the barrel tastes like. I had almost “tried” myself into an early grave. But by the grace of God, and through a whole lot of painful trial and error, I had learned the vital lesson of “Letting go and letting God.”

This principle is not only applicable to addiction but to sin and salvation. We cannot “try” our way into becoming a New Creation. When I talk to people and ask them about their salvation, or about being a Christian, many times people say the same thing, “I’m tying!” But that response is proof they do not understand the most basic reality of the gospel, grace, or righteousness by faith. As the little green guy from a long time ago and in a galaxy far far away once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Or in the case of being a Christian, “you either are or you are not. There is no try.”

We cannot “try” our way into the Kingdom of God. We cannot force our way into New Life. Willpower doesn’t last long. We don’t need more willpower, we need more Holy Spirit power. We don’t need more strength from within, but from without. We cannot experience New Life without letting go of our old life. We cannot maintain control while becoming New Creation. New creation is beyond our ability to control. How much did you contribute to the original creation? ZERO! The same goes for New Creation. What did you contribute to your original birth? NOTHING! The same goes for rebirth. Like a baby being born, who’s only contribution to the delivery process is submission, so it is with salvation. When we try to help God with our deliverance it is just as ridiculous as a baby trying to help their mother with their own delivery. The more we try to help the more we get in the way and hurt. Stop fighting, stop struggling, stop trying to help, and just surrender to the process. Stop relying on your own strength and start surrendering your problem, or that person, or that predicament to a source of strength that is far greater than anything you can imagine.

Stop trying more and start dying more. There can be no resurrection without crucifixion. Like Paul, we need to “die every day!” (1 Cor. 15:31b). Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls someone, He bids them come and die.” In Luke 9:23 “Jesus said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him/her deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me.’ ”

Every day we need to die so that Christ Jesus can come alive. We need to get out of the way so that the Way can work. Stop trying more, and start dying more. Sure, you have to be willing to participate in the miracle but you have to stop relying on your power.

Essence of Christianity in the gospel surrender. The reason “our yoke is easy and our burden is light” is because Christ carried the ultimate cross we couldn’t carry. He allowed our sin to crush him so that we won’t be crushed. Because Jesus made it through the ultimate crucifixion we can make it through our mini-crucifixions. His resurrection is a guarantee of our resurrection, not only in the future when He returns, but right now. The ultimate battle is already won! So why not surrender to the winning side? Let go and let God. Because if you’re willing to lay down your life He is willing and able, to pick it up and raise it higher than it has ever been before! Stop trying, and start dying.

4 thoughts on “Stop Trying and Start Dying

  1. I tried everythnig to stop drinking and smoking. It was only when I surrendered to Jehovah that these destructive habits were instantly crushed and thrown out like yesterdays garbage.
    I have not had a drink in over ten years or a smoke in over four. Praise Jehovah

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