TURNING YOUR LIFE OVER TO GOD
By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© December 2019, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
This is the concept that one gives up control over one’s life to the Creator and instead of doing what he or she wishes, he or she follows the Desires and Will of the Creator, or Christ, or God, or the Father, or the One.
Some who are Christians call this the conversion process. Others refer to it as being born again. This is based upon the New Testament, John 3.3-3.8. Here, the master Jesus explains that one must be born (again) of spirit to enter the kingdom of Heaven. The first birth is the physical birth of the body. The second is a spiritual birth.
Other religions, besides evangelical or charismatic Christians, also have somewhat similar traditions and rituals, which are discussed below.
THE CHRISTIAN APPROACH
The idea of turning one’s life over to God is well understood among evangelical Christians. Good parents teach it to their children at a young age. The decision is then up to the individual to decide when to make the commitment to Christ, as it is sometimes called.
In most evangelical and charismatic churches, the process is as follows. First, one decides to accept Jesus as one’s savior and to use him to connect with the Will of the Father. Then, during a church service, he or she walks up the church isle past the worshippers and steps up onto a raised platform or podium for all to see.
The pastor or minister asks if you are ready to turn your life over to God and Christ. If one says yes, he may anoint the head with a little oil, administers a blessing and welcomes you into the “Body of Christ”. Until that time, the person is a worshipper, but not a formal member of the body of Christ.
FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT ATTEND AN EVANGELICAL CHURCH
If one does not belong to a church, the idea of turning your life over to God is somewhat different. You do it privately or perhaps with a friend or a group.
The private process. Some people are able to turn their life over to God through prayer. For example, the Lord’s Prayer taught by the master Jesus states, “Thy Will be done.” Said often enough and sincerely enough, this prayer alone will enable a person to turn one’s life over to God. Other prayers and Bible verses state the same idea.
Twelve-step programs. A type of program that has helped millions of Christians as well as non-Christians are the 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Gambling Anonymous. These programs teach the exact same idea as this article, using group support and group pressure to help the process along. They describe the process as having 12 steps, which are:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or other problems) - that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
A ONE-TIME EXPERIENCE OR A PROCESS?
Turning one’s life over to God is always an ongoing process. The reason is that one can always return to ego control of one’s life. This is an ever-present temptation. Therefore, the commitment to turn one’s life over to God must be an ongoing one.
Walking down a church isle and declaring that you are born again is a one-time event. The event, however, is just a marker or milestone on the longer path and ongoing process of complete conversion of the body and mind to the Will of God.
The event may occur early in your maturing and conversion process due to enthusiasm or parental guidance, perhaps. However, in other cases, it occurs later in life and later in your maturing process after you have explored life more deeply.
SEVEN ASPECTS OF TURNING YOUR LIFE OVER TO GOD
One can divide the process of conversion into seven aspects according to the 7 system – used in many articles on this website.
The 1 level is your survival and daily physical living level. It has to do with what you eat and drink, and your rest, activity level, health matters and other aspects of lifestyle.
The 2 level has to do with sexuality and emotions.
The 3 level is about power and control issues.
The 4 level has to do with social matters such as friendships, colleagues and associates.
The 5 level has to do with your job, work, occupation and career.
The 6 level has to do with your thoughts, ideas and beliefs.
The 7 level has to do with your spiritual ideas and perfecting your connection with the divine or Holy Spirit.
Full conversion or full turning of your life over to God requires that all of these aspects, and perhaps more, be included. Usually, the process takes a number of years, and it might require an entire lifetime to complete.
OTHER RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS
Hebrew. In the Hebrew tradition, a boy or girl celebrates the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah around age 13. The young person learns Biblical Hebrew and reads from scripture in front of the entire congregation.
He or she is given a blessing by the Rabbi, who often speaks about the child and his personality and accomplishments. This is how he or she is welcomed into the adult community of Hebrew worshippers. The men can now be counted in the minion, or official number of worshippers required for certain prayers and activities.
However, unlike being born again in the Christian tradition, the bar mitzvah occurs at a set age, rather than being dependent upon the maturity level and personal decision of the boy or girl.
Some in the Hebrew religion also observe a confirmation ceremony of a young person around age 16 or 17. However, this is not the same as turning one’s life over to God.
In some traditions, the welcoming of a person into the community of adults involves an initiation. This is the accomplishment of some sort of feat of physical strength, cunning, intellect or wisdom. Here is an example:
The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert of Africa. In the Bushman tradition, a young man must slay a lion as part of his initiation into the community of men who love God above all things.
Unlike the Christian and Jewish ceremonies, a young man can fail this initiation, and will then have to do it over again later.
This type of initiation usually applies more to the young men than to the young women. The beginning of menstruation - and with it the possibility of pregnancy - is often considered a young woman’s entrance into the adult community. However, there are human groups in which the young women must also go through an initiation in order to join the community of adults. For more details, read Initiation.
USING THE PHRASE, “THY WILL BE DONE”
This powerful prayer or affirmation helps many people turn over their lives to God, however you may understand Him. For details about the use of this phrase, read Thy Will Be Done.
Turning your life over to God has many aspects. It usually means changing your behavior, changing your thoughts, and changing your motivation. No longer should you be motivated by fear, lust, anger, greed or other selfish motives.
Instead, your thoughts and actions should all be motivated by a desire to do the Will of God. If an action seems to fulfill this Will, then one does it, whether or not it is comfortable or even safe. One “does the right thing” because it is the Will of God, and not out of pride, stupidity, ego or other reasons.
This, indeed, is a new psychology that is very different from the psychology of those who are still in charge of their bodies and minds.
A way to understand it is that one has now come under the guidance and protection of the One or God, and so actions that seemed unusual or unsafe may actually be very safe. In contrast, actions that seemed safe or appropriate or good before one’s conversion or before giving over one’s life, may now be quite dangerous, ill-advised or seen as stupid.
Here are some effects:
- You may look the same and have the same phone number, but you are a very different person.
- Your motivation has shifted, and this can and usually will affect every area of your life such as your work or career, relationships, family life, friendships and more.
- Some of your personality traits and preferences will drop away. Other qualities and preferences will replace them.
- Some friendships and relationships will change. Some will break apart, while others will become stronger and more loving.
- Other changes will occur, some of which might be upsetting. Here are a few examples:
You might lose your job. The real reason is it was not the best for you. However, it might appear that you were let go because you did not do a good job.
You might be required to move your home.
You might lose a friend or two, although new people will come along who are more at your spiritual level.
You might find yourself less interested in some of your hobbies, friends, entertainment or work. At the same time, you will develop new interests, friends and new abilities.
This is just God working in your life! You will not be asked to do anything that is beyond your training status and ability to learn.
Concerning personality traits, preferences and relationships, know that the traits that truly come from the soul and from God will not disappear and be lost. Only those traits and preferences that are not really yours will disappear. These came from parents, friends, colleagues or others with whom you associated in the past.
Timing. In addition to seeing what we need far better than we can, God has a very long-term perspective. As a result, changes and events may occur in a strange order and with unusual timing.
It is best to relax and “enjoy the ride”. Otherwise, you will become frustrated. At times, events will flood in and can feel overwhelming. At other times, you can feel stuck in the mud, though it is not the truth as long as you keep asking for God’s Will in every situation.
The adventure. Above all, turning your life over to God is an amazing adventure.
- Some people will be less attracted to you or less desirous of spending time with you.
- Some others will be much more attracted to you and want to spend time with you. This can be confusing for you and for them.
- Family life generally improves a lot because there is less ego fighting.
- Children are very grateful when their parents really let God run their life, and even moreso when they explain this idea to the children.