God begins the process of surrender by knocking us off our high horse. This literally happened to Paul. He was going his self-assured way, riding toward Damascus, when a blinding light came from heaven. Paul was knocked to the ground, trembling. Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4).

Paul knew something was missing in his life. He had a knowledge of God, but no firsthand revelation. Now on his knees, he heard these words from heaven: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” (9:5). The words turned Paul’s world upside down. Scripture says, “Trembling and astonished, [Paul] said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (9:6). Paul’s conversion was a dramatic work of the Holy Spirit.

Paul was being led by the Holy Spirit into the surrendered life. He asked, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” and his heart was crying out, “Jesus, how can I serve you? How can I know you and please you? Nothing else matters. Everything I’ve done in my flesh is dung. You’re everything to me now.”

Paul had no other ambition, no other driving force in his life, than this: “That I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8). By today’s standards of success, Paul was a total failure. He didn’t construct any buildings. He didn’t have an organization. And the methods he used were despised by other leaders. In fact, the message Paul preached offended large numbers of his hearers. At times he was even stoned for preaching it. His subject? The cross.

When we stand before God at the judgment, we won’t be judged by our ministries, achievements or number of converts. There will be but one measure of success on that day: Were our hearts fully surrendered to God? Did we lay aside our own will and agenda and take up his? Did we succumb to peer pressure and follow the crowd, or did we seek him alone for direction? Did we run from seminar to seminar looking for purpose in life, or did we find our fulfillment in him?

I have but one ambition and that is to learn more and more to say only those things the Father gives me. Nothing I say or do of myself is worth anything. I want to be able to claim, “I know my Father is with me, because I do only his will.”