by AJ Rasmussen

"The Lord's call to service requires TOTAL surrender." As exemplified in the story of Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:15-19). "A life of surrender says, 'God, whatever, whenever and however you want it, my answer is yes.'" -Charles Stanley

Though I was raised by a loving Mother and was very blessed, I did grow up much of my life in a mental and emotional battle. Without going into too much detail, things happened early in my life coupled with a desire to be loved and accepted by my father, I would spend most my life chasing fulfillment to an empty hole, yet nothing I chased was sufficient. All my ways to fill this unfulfilled need and explain away much confusion, failed and wound up hurting me and many people in my path.

I was arrested for the first time in my life in 1997 when I was 20 years old. Long story short, still trying to run my own life and do what I wanted, lost as ever, I eventually would spend six years in prison.

I had grown up in the church and thought I knew who God was. What I didn't know was his grace and love, if I did, I didn't live in it. I did very well in prison in working on myself and going to church activities as well as counseling/ treatment. I left prison feeling like I had it all figured out, problems dealt with. I could do this and I did. I did very well for a short while. However, what I failed to see was it was all I, I, I. I wasn't focusing on Christ. I had transitioned so well and become successful so quickly that I became absorbed within myself and what I wanted. I became so blind to the truth, blind to God's will for my life.

Eventually, my selfish living, poor choices and total lack of seeking out God would land me back on a path of depression and eventual destruction. What I was missing was the need to Surrender, to set aside my will and take up God's will. I would spend four years, following a devastating event in my life, on a downhill spiral, running from myself, running from my past and all that came with that, medicating with sex to get by. God was always right there knocking on my door, sending warning signs, but I had completely shut my eyes and ears to Him, I had "made it" and didn't need help. I was already a independent person, and such quick success after prison just lead to pride and following pride, scripture clearly tells us, comes destruction. And destruction it was. The economy tanked, because of that, my past record and my lack of seeking God's will, lead to financial downfall which just lead me to run faster, medicate how I knew best and hope the ship would rite itself. My ship sunk.

April 15th, 2012, I would again find myself back in jail, this time, for good. I am nearing three years since that day that lead me to not want to live any longer. What was the point, I was a complete failure. I had let everyone down I loved so much, I'd hurt the very people who loved me and given me another chance and now, my life was over. I didn't know what to do, it was just me and a cell and bars. I had never been suicidal in my life, but take away someone's life, everything I'd worked so hard for, my family and friends, and the chance at freedom ever again, I was ready to leave earth, so I wouldn't ever hurt anyone again, nor feel the pain and confusion much of my life had been filled with.

God wasn't having it and sent me a Bible and a loving Mother and Grandmother who didn't think twice about their love for me and not much later, my friend Annette who I had known for most of my life. If not for God and them, I likely might not be here to write this today.

There was still no surrender at that point, nor for the next couple years. All there was, was much depression, lack of purpose, hope, peace nor joy. The day and days leading to my arrest repeatedly replayed in my head for much of the next two plus years. All the errors of my ways, over and over. The feeling as though many of my friends and family had basically died that one day, because, I would likely never see them or talk to them again, was too much to bare. For years, I had said to myself, over and over, 'What is wrong with me!?'

One day, while listening to a teaching of Charles Stanley, A light bulb clicked on. He was speaking of 'Rejection'. It was an ah-ha moment. I had spent my life trying to replace the rejection and feelings of abandonment I had experienced from my father, through any means possible. All sources I sought were only temporary. It was Full and Complete Surrender to God that I needed and allow Him to fill that emptiness.

I have surrendered to Christ and my life has began to change over the last handful of months. Is it a complete surrender? I am not sure. It seems to be a learning process and daily surrender as scripture says, to deny ourselves daily.

In the March issue of Decision Magazine, an article on Russell Wilson, Russell states that his keywords to life on and off the football field are,'Surrender and Surround.' Surrender to God and Surround yourself/myself with good people. We learn through difficulties and disappointments. Through them we grow spiritually. Trials and Tribulation is God's tool to build our character. I must be quite the character by now \"/

Another quote of Russell Wilson, following his Super Bowl ending throw, 'I have hopes of a major comeback from this minor setback.' Even though I currently sit here with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. God has assured me, once I surrendered to Him, that I will be ok, whether I am in here or out there. He can and will use me, so long as I remain surrendered to Him and Him alone. I find comfort in that this day. Amen.

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