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Salvation, Surrender and Worship

Author: Max Ford

Salvation, Surrender and Worship

Surrendering to Jesus changed Max Ford's life. Now he wants to share this with others.

It was a most peculiar situation.
 
There I was, hiding in a shadowed corner of Steubenville Franciscan University's Sports Hall, surrounded by overly-excited American adolescents, all eager to plunge into the next worship song. It was not, perhaps, apparent to those lovely young people, but I was in the throes of an existential crisis.

I had not long turned 18, and had been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. Crippling panic-attacks, often an hourly occurrence, made my life unbearable. Whilst I cannot say that I ever considered ending my life, I certainly didn't want it anymore.

There was an incredible amount of good in my childhood. Although my father was absent, I grew up in a loving and faith-filled family. My mother is an amazing woman who is devoted to serving the Lord and she worked hard to pass on the gift of faith to me.
 
However, at that time, she suffered and wrestled with alcoholism - a disease that is all at once cunning, baffling and powerful. Through its subtlety, it attracted darkness and so, for all involved, life at home was not easy during that period.
 

Profound Loneliness

As a consequence, I lived in profound loneliness. What was mad was that I eventually chose that solitary confinement. What I so desperately craved above all else was to be known, seen and loved, yet I deprived myself of this, in an effort to protect myself.

I built a little kingdom of my own, retreated and hid within its walls. The retreat went so deep I eventually found myself in a solipsistic hell of my own making. Fear did what fear does-it closed me in. The focus of my life became me, myself and my hurt - my kingdom.

Not only had I cut myself off from others in my extreme-egocentricism, I had also unwittingly locked God out and unduly resented him as the cause of all my pain as a result.

So I came to my aunt and uncle's home in the United States, prompted in great measure by the loving intervention of my mother, even in her own difficulty. The aim was simply to do a "geographical" -in other words, I needed a change of circumstance and scenery in order to begin some kind of recovery.
 

Anxiety and Isolation

My uncle informed me on the evening of my arrival that he would be sending me to a youth conference along with my cousins in Steubenville. I was not best pleased at this prospect, having already fought through my anxiety to traverse the Atlantic Ocean. As far as I was concerned, that was not what I needed. All the same, I went in obedience.

Cue the 'shadowed corner in the sports hall'. I will never forget that night. I remember looking at the Blessed Sacrament illuminated by a piercing spotlight. For the first time in my life, I doubted that Jesus was truly before me. I was blind.
 
The sense of isolation I felt seemed to intensify in the presence of hands and voices raised and united in worship.

Desperate and weary, I finally had to admit that I was beaten and could not save myself. I needed a saviour. A decision lay before me. Would I risk opening the door to a God who might not even be there? Or would I fester away into lonely madness?
 
The former seemed far more appealing! And so I began to cry out to Him from within my heart: "Jesus, if you are there, You are the only one who can save me! Please, I'm begging you, come! I open my heart to you, and I CHOOSE to worship You!"
 

Filled With His Glorious Presence

It went on and on: "I have nothing to offer you but my worship, I will lift my hands and my voice and sing this song; just promise that you'll come! I give you two minutes!" That was my bold demand of the God of the universe.

What happened next marked my life forever. As I began to worship, the door of my heart opened, and my spirit looked outward for the first time in a long time. what I had failed to realise is that there are two ways to come through that door: from the inside-out, but also from the outside-in. For years, I had felt what I could only describe as a great 'absence' within me. In an instant, I felt as though this vacuum was pierced by Love Himself and He filled it with His glorious 'Presence'.
 
He was only too eager to save me! It was so powerful that I could not breathe momentarily. He had never abandoned me, as I had thought. It was this experience of His perfect kindness that convicted my heart to trust in Him and leave my doubt in the grave. This is the life of worship!

I invite you today: worship Him, and trust that he will come. He always does. "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13) He saved me and He will save you: "My child, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways." (Proverbs 23:26)

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