Lately, I closed a chapter of my life that’s felt open for a long, long time –not by choice, I guess you should know. So many times it felt like the story of Abraham, who was asked to surrender Isaac on the altar and trust God to provide. Seeing that Abraham feared God and was willing to surrender what he held dear when he didn’t understand, God provided a substitute and spared him. An exercise in patience, an opportunity to surrender, a test of faith.

This story turned out not to be one of walking in faith, laying it on the altar, and finding that God planned all along to let me have it in the end. Instead, it’s been the story of how I sought to be faithful and learned a bit about surrender and didn’t get what I wanted at all, but got more of Jesus instead.

And it’s there that we learn to truly say,
Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.

How many times have I treated God like a cosmic vending machine, believing that if I put in the time and trust and faithfulness, I’ll get what I asked for? How often have I acted like praying the right prayers and believing the right truths would somehow obligate God to bend His will to my own? I’ve believed that if I’ll only surrender what I want most, God will let me keep it. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t surrender at all. To truly surrender is to submit, as even Christ submitted, to the will of the Father, to lay down the prideful notion that my ways are ever higher than His, to suffer the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him (Philippians 3:8).

Vending machines don’t care about you –give me your money, take your chemical-injected pop tarts, and go. (You know, hypothetically.) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, is too kind to give us only what we want. He is too infinitely faithful to withhold that which is making us into the image of Christ, too infinitely wise to concede to our flawed, finite idea of how it should be, too infinitely glorious to allow us to settle for another. By God’s grace, our stories of disappointment can be one also of glad surrender, of delighted submission, of believing anew that the surpassing worth of knowing Christ is worth whatever it takes to find him all-sufficient.

Hallelujah means God be Praised. When we face losses that seem too hard, disappointments that seem too big, and plot-twists we can’t make sense of, we get to respond with hallelujahs. God be praised, these tangible losses serves only to remind us that all we have is Jesus, and in him, all we need.

Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.