I read an arresting blog about Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, and one of the post-War generation of entrepreneurial American Christian giants—like Billy Graham, Bob Pierce of World Vision, Francis Schaeffer of L’Abri, or George Verwer of Operation Mobilization.
As newly-wed Christians, Bill and Vonette Bright were disappointed with each other. After a quarrel, Bill sensed God tell him, “I want you to make total, absolute surrender to my control.”
They made a list of their dreams—a home in a posh neighbourhood, cars, vacations, and were appalled at how materialistic these were.
So, they literally signed everything to the control of Christ. Home, car, business, all they owned, or would own.
And then they sensed that their future was brighter than ever.
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Bill wrote, “Apart from my salvation, this was to be the most important decision of my life. That day I became a slave of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the first time in my life I was actually free.”
“We chose that day to put aside our own little dreams, our own aspirations, and our own little puny plans, and embrace his magnificent plans. That day was the beginning of a whole new era, a whole new lifestyle.”
“It’s the greatest decision that we have ever made. It was a total, absolute, irrevocable commitment to the Lordship of Christ.”
“It was the most liberating thing you can imagine.” They committed to “never again seek the praise or applause of men or material wealth.”
And then, Bright said “God in a supernatural way seemed to open up my mind, to give me a vision which embraced the whole world—to reach the world through reaching college students. It was so intoxicating that I almost burst with joy. I wanted to shout the praises of God at the top of my voice. I appreciate the experience of the apostle Paul who spoke of being lifted onto a spiritual plane which could not be described by mere human words…. God showed me the whole world and gave me the confidence that He would use me to reach the multitudes of the world for whom Christ died.” In those few seconds, their lives changed forever.
Campus Crusade for Christ now has a ministry presence in 191 countries, and has 80 ministries under its umbrella, including the Jesus Film.
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Of course, this surrender to God was not without cost. Bill sold his business to focus on reaching college students. He left his course at Fuller where he was training to be a pastor. The Brights were plunged into the financial and career uncertainty.
It is a fascinating, paradoxical story. Bright literally signed over everything to Christ—and the future felt brighter, and he felt liberated.
I think of the lovely old hymn Only a Shadow, “The dreams I have today, my Lord, are only a shadow of your dream for me.”
Amazing thought, that!! Because His mind is exponentially bigger, creative, startling–so his dreams for my blog, or the books I want to write are so much bigger than mine. So, as Bill Bright says, the challenge is seek and “embrace his magnificent plans.” (One of Bill’s sayings was “think huge,” and “then huger still.”) So I need to train myself until it becomes second nature not to act until I sense his guidance, his wind in my sails. To sense his words and direction surge through me before I act.
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When you surrender area after area or your life to God, two things are possible. The surrendered area can be super-enhanced. Or it can be taken away, in the way God led Oswald Chambers to drop the art career which he had trained in for years. Total surrender of your life to God is very dangerous, and, paradoxically, the safest thing there is.
“Ooh” said Susan. “Is Aslan-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”..
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
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Bill Bright tells us candidly that he and his amazing friends in The Fellowship of the Burning Heart failed in their total surrender, but they went right back and surrendered their lives again. And again. This gives me hope as I re-surrender areas of my life which I had surrendered before (unsuccessfully).
My blog, precious to me, which I believe I have surrendered, because, heck, I couldn’t write words which speak to others weekly without his help.
My writing, which has been an area of frustration, failure and sadness, and in which my dreams have NOT been fulfilled…so it is the highest of high time that I surrender it.
My health and weight. Ah, I desperately need God’s help in them. Cannot manage without God. Come, Lord, and control them.
My children and their futures, over which I am so opinionated. I have a University in mind which I would LOVE Irene to go to. Will have to surrender that desire to God.
My house, my possessions.
My precious garden which so little resembles my dream for it
My finances, my business. Oh direct me, Lord, and bless both.
The languages I want to learn. The places I want to see. My husband. My old age! Everything.
There is joy in surrendering it all, again, and again and experiencing the transition, in Bill Bright’s words, from our puny plans to God’s magnificent plans.