Within every living being there is an instinct of self-preservation, no matter how domesticized that being has become. It can manifest itself in dogs fighting over a bone; a kitten hissing and spitting at the family dog; a bird flying away when a hand hovers above it. Human beings also have the instinct of self-preservation, though as we grow older it becomes a bit more subtle.
As beings created in the image of God, we are endowed with an awareness of right and wrong. This knowledge is both a blessing and a battle. It is a blessing when we choose to do what is right, even during the most difficult of circumstances, because that choice has strengthened our character. It is a battle because our natural will desires to protect its own interests and often the right choice demands a slaying of those very interests. What is it, then, that would prompt us to do the difficult thing when it goes against the very nature we are born with?
It is an all-consuming trust in the nature of God. When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He calls us to pick up our cross. The cross is a symbol of death: following Christ requires a dying to self. That can only be done if we trust that He is Who He says He is. His commands are contrary to what my natural self would desire: I do not want to love my enemies, wait for good things, or submit to authority. I do not want to give without getting something in return or be content with less, rather than more. I do not even want to attempt to rejoice in the midst of suffering or to listen to the woes of others when I have a lot on my mind. But is that the kind of person I was designed to be?
An accurate view of God will help us gain an accurate view of ourselves. We were designed to have fellowship with Him. To achieve this beautiful purporse we must surrender ourselves and our instinct of self-preservation and trust that His accomplished will in our lives was worth the white flag.