During breakfast while I rinsed dishes Kevin asked me a question, “Mom, how do you really surrender to God?”
That’s doozy of a question at six in the morning on the first day of school in a new city. I stopped what I was doing and locked eyes with him. “Kevin, that’s a big question that most adults don’t have an answer for, can I think carefully about it and keep this conversation open and get back to you? Did you need an answer for today, like right before you jump into this new thing you are doing?
He filled his mouth and shrugged as if to say that was good enough.
His question hasn’t given me a moment’s peace. I know he was pricked from the sermon we heard at Oak Hills Church when Randy Frazee spoke about how we are all ministers if we are surrendered to Jesus. And then again, as he faces the fear of loneliness in a huge crowd he probably wants to know how to surrender to the idea that he has to do what he doesn’t want to do.
My first reaction to this question is: we have to admit defeat to be able to surrender. It’s a battle term, and when a white flag goes up the opponent knows there is a surrender and there’s a willingness to join the other side.
In the Christian walk I can see where I either fight in my own strength, or rely on God’s strength. To surrender is to admit I don’t have enough strength to go to battle on my own, I need to go over to God where he supplies all the strength I need. He also has the battle plan that works. Admitting to myself that my own plans are dead ends, well, that’s the first step to surrender.
Then there is the matter of trust and faith. I have to really believe that God has the better plan and the most strength to walk me through the rockier roads in my life. I can’t trust myself, I need to trust God, and I can only find that wisdom in the bible. The world is trying to convince us that we have the power within ourselves to be our best selves, I say that’s a lie. I have proven to myself over and over again that when I follow my own way I get lost, and God always comes for me, carries me back and helps me get started again, with his plan.
When I follow his plan from the beginning, it is always a great faith journey where He teaches me things about myself and my faith that I never could have learned otherwise. But if I don’t surrender and admit I don’t know the way, I can’t have the adventure He has set for me. The best example I can think of this is when Craig and I agreed to help the orphanage but we had no earthly idea how that would happen. We just surrendered to wait and see what God would do. And He astounded us with quick action and full support. He made our heads spin He moved in such a big way for those kids. We knew we didn’t do it. It was Him.
Surrender is a process, not a onetime jump. There is a first surrender and it was when I became a Christian, but every day since there is a daily surrender, an ongoing sanctification. When I am not really seeking God in his Word is when I begin to walk in my own strength and rely less on Him. And from too much experience with it, I should know I’ll be going the wrong way.
I remember when Jack was three and I felt a very strong sense that God was saying, “it’s time to write”. Now I have always journaled, but during the move to AZ I had slacked off on my prayer journal. He could have meant for me to simply go back to journaling to Him. But I believed it was more. I wanted to learn to write a novel, and so I jumped in and signed up for a novel writing class at the local community college. I learned to write. And I was writing a novel, but ultimately when I finished it, that novel ended up on a shelf. What I couldn’t have known at that time while I experienced defeat and disappointment was God meant for me to learn to write and He would use that when He was good and ready. I couldn’t have known that six years later when I began writing a blog that God would use my writing to help orphans in Africa. I would have said that’s absurd. I was in it because I wanted to see my book on the front table at Barnes and Nobles. Obviously, God thought that was absurd.
Writing the novel became something that was all about me. It was a major wrong turn relying on my own way that took me to a dead end. But now my writing is a love offering, it’s not what I get, it’s what I can give. And that is the road God wanted me on all along. It is reassuring that when I get off track, somehow he brings me back to where he wanted me in the first place. I would say that’s grace.
I think this is the story I will tell Kevin and see if it helps him understand surrender, even though I’m still trying to understand it myself.