I heard someone say that your friendship with God will never surpass your surrender to Him. That is a powerful statement that made me ponder the truth of it. I began to think about surrender and what we imagine when that word is used. I picture a white flag waving to end a battle for dominance, like in wartime. I picture people with their hands up to signify that they will no longer be aggressive toward the person they are surrendering to. Surrender to God is mandatory to have a friendship or communal relationship with God.
Matthew 16:24 (NIV84)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
To deny oneself is not to recognize oneself. This concept is difficult for most people in our culture because self-care in an idolatrous way has been elevated. Jesus' words remain true. Denial of self is the only way to follow Him. It is surrender. That doesn't mean that you abuse yourself. It doesn't mean you don't care or neglect the things God has given you to manage. The rouse of self-denial for some people is they deny themselves while ignoring the will of God for their lives.
I want to focus on our body which is one of the great resources and gifts that God has given us. We may have an out-of-focus view of our bodies and think that not caring for them equates with self-denial. Nothing could be further from the truth. The self-denial for most of us is to eat what, when, and how God has told us. It is moving our bodies and sleeping in our unique circadian rhythm. It is resting as we were designed to do with the beautiful gift of the Sabbath. All of this is to be done when we don't feel like it, want something else, or are too busy to rest, sleep, move, intake nutrition, and rejuvenate our tired bodies.
The promise and freedom of self-denial is life. Remarkable life. The kind of life that Jesus came to give. This life indeed extends to our bodies and our health and fitness. Do you see what Jesus wants to provide us? He wants life for us that is remarkable (abundant). You have an opportunity to live within the self-denial of the gospel and enjoy life to the fullest even through difficulties, hard times, and trials of every kind. I would argue that if your body is healthy (your brain is a part of your body), no matter what comes to your front door, trouble or blessing, it will be easier for you to handle and enjoy it because you live in a state of health.