It is a misconception that we can create an authentic spiritual life through personal discipline and hard work. This can be a hard truth for self-made American Christians. A transforming friendship with Jesus does not depend on willpower. It is always a response to an invitation—a heart unnaturally moved to give itself to the ‘voice’ that calls us “beloved.” When we claim this truth as our own, our lives take on a new reality. We are inviting Jesus’ love and possibilities to be actualized in our lives and allowing his desires to become our desires.
We cannot will ourselves into surrender. All we can do is give our attention to Jesus and talk with him honestly about the realities of our soul. He does not want our conformity. He wants the consent of our hearts.
On its own, a branch is a dead stick. It can produce nothing. As a branch is grafted
into a vine, the life flowing within the vine will also flow through the branch.
Fruit is a by-product of this relationship. “Jesus invites us to live a life that flows out of the Spirit of God. It’s a life based on transfusion—God’s Spirit transfusing my spirit, God’s deepest desires, longings, and dreams becoming mine.” To make our home in Jesus is to be grafted into him, where his life flows through us.
Remaining in Christ is the spiritual work of being attentive and responsive to his invitations. This is the heart, the essence, of the Christian life.
What would it take to be fully drawn into God’s love, a surrender that is not simply the result of your willpower or guilt? Talk to God about this.
David Benner, Desiring God’s Will, 72.