We would always run or peddle as fast as we could to the dirt piles in the back of the neighborhood. They stood several feet taller than our heads. It didn’t us take long to dive right into kingdom living. We would toss, jump, push, shove, and claim our stake with the goal to stay on top of the hill as long as we could. Whoever was successful in pushing every other kid off the hill would proclaim loudly, with arms raised, their title as King of the Hill. And those few short seconds of victory tasted like the last bag of M&Ms. That is, until seconds later when someone else managed the toppling to take the throne.
A recent sermon on hope got me thinking about our summer game King of the Hill. The sermon reminded me of how one’s soul is a lot like those dirt mounds at the back of our neighborhood that we coveted as seats of power. For hours in the hot Georgia sun we all campaigned for that one position of authority; for hours we unsuccessfully defended the spot only to be toppled time and time again.
There is a similar battle for my soul. One that puts many contenders in the mix. Opposition is constantly pushing, shoving, tossing, and trying to claim stake to that crucial internal spot. From attractive media to video games to beauty gels, sports trends and music themes, the world is full of things trying to be king of my soul. These emerging attractions look shiny at first, but eventually they become outdated or untrendy; thus, endless chasing ensues. Continual feelings of loss produce depression, anxiety, worry, stress, and despair in a world that rarely releases its grip on the attainment of “more.” It is in this counterfeit land of suitors that my soul becomes depleted, desolate, and weary. I discover that these demanding soul lords do not relinquish control willingly. No, they must be toppled.
There is good news!
The good news is that the rebellion of my soul is built on hope. There is hope for the battle of souls. But hope starts with thinking differently.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Instead of many things to occupy my soul there is a unique person, one single suitor, one authentic keeper of souls: Jesus Christ.
Christ in us is the hope for us.
Yet this hope comes at a price. A cost. A white flag of personal surrender.
The cost of hope is bought through the surrender of my soul.
I must let go of the things that claw tirelessly at the very part of me they were not intended to own: my image, my security, my worth, my identity. Hope for my soul begins with the surrender of ownership, and a willingness to topple all the things I am told by the world will make me happy.
The enemy of our souls has plenty of twenty-first century tools to wage war. Many at our fingertips lie undercover. They masquerade as lies of independence and false contentment. Bragging rights include stomping on others toward advancement. But God’s way of hope for our souls is based on the humble merit of surrender. True hope is attained in the land of decrease and surrender: the more we decrease, the more Christ is increased in our lives, and the more our souls thrive as they were intended.
He must become greater; I must become less.
Maybe today is the day to take back rightful ownership of your soul and surrender it to the one person suited best for the job: Jesus.