Freedom comes when we stop the loony delusion that we’re a match for God, when we stop pretending that we have the resources or the skill or the knowledge or the tenacity to pull our life into clear space. It’s a beast of a job trying to hold the world up on our shoulders.
The great tragedy of refusing to trust God is that we are left to trust only ourselves. The older Christians, and certainly all the mystics, used the word ‘surrender’ often when speaking of the human encounter with God. We don’t hear the word so much any more. Perhaps we are so committed to the idea of a God who exists merely to cheer us on our way, a God who would never intrude into our schemes or desires, that the notion of ‘surrender’ doesn’t mean anything now that we’re more enlightened. How do I surrender to a god who’s little more than a projection of my own interests and inclinations?
When we are left to ourselves, though, the world is simply too much for us. This is why if we do not have a God, eventually we will create one. The call of the Scriptures, again and again, is to surrender to God and live. To throw up our hands in happy defeat and waltz into the party. If God is love and kindness and life and hope, then we should be falling all over ourselves to see who is the first to cry ‘uncle.’
When Jacob wrestled the Angel of the Lord, he came away with a limp. When Moses met God in the desert, he discovered that his future was Egypt, and there was no escape. When Saul met the Light, he fell to the dirt trembling. They met their match. And each of them discovered the happy condition of being completely out of moves. Nothing to do but drop the weight and the fight and say yes to joy.
What is the difference
between your experience of existence
and that of a saint?
The saint knows
that the spiritual path
is a sublime chess game with God
and that the Beloved
has just made such a fantastic move
that the saint is now continually
tripping over joy
and bursting out in laughter
and saying, “I surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
you have a thousand serious moves.
– Hafiz, “Tripping Over Joy”