If I ever had to draw up a very honest CV of all my (hidden) skills, I would have to top the list with the expert ability to worry and stress about everything. Even before my mind has registered the threat of impending danger to my inner peace, my shoulders and neck muscles go into such an intense spasm that no doctor, chiropractor or physio can release the tension. I am very good at it.
I have this innate need to be in control of situations that result in meticulous planning with three rotating notebooks filled with lists and ideas relating to different areas of my life. This need for control also makes me an excellent organizer which has resulted in the appointment to various leadership positions which just adds to the stress and lists and need for control.
I must just state that I have improved a lot in this area. I can let things slide much easier than when I was in my teens. I was a nervous wreck in high school, to the amusement of my teachers and friends.
But I am still learning to surrender my will and my plan for my life to God.
This little word – surrender – has been running through my mind, with my thoughts churning and chewing on it’s meaning this week. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that this Sunday marks Confirmation on our church calendar, and it reminds me of the vow the confirmands will make:
“I renounce Satan and all his work and ways, and surrender myself to You, O triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in belief, obedience, and the earnest resolution to remain faithful to You until my end. Amen.” (Catechism of the New Apostolic Church)
I surrender myself to You…God.
I made this same vow many moons ago, but I have to admit that I fail this vow daily.
Although I try not to steal stuff and can’t think of anyone I’ve murdered (yet), I struggle with surrendering myself – all my plans, my will, and my solutions – to my Heavenly Father.
I often wonder if this is the view God has of me.
I honestly think it would be a fair assessment.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word surrender as to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand. While the Cambridge dictionary says surrender means to stop fighting and admit defeat.
I promised to give up control and stop fighting. I promised to walk the path God had in store for me. Unfortunately, I often find myself throwing that inner tantrum (sometimes not so inner), when God says “no”, or “not now” or especially when he says nothing at all.
As with every good and godly characteristic, Jesus is our ultimate example of surrender and humility. In Philippians 2:7-8 we read how Jesus humbled himself to nothing by dying on the cross for our sins. Even in the garden of Gethsemane, he surrendered himself to the will of his Father by pleading for release from death on the cross, but only if the Father was willing. (Luke 22:42)
If Jesus needs to surrender his will to the Father, then how much more should I?
(See this post for more reading on submitting to God’s will)
I was also recently reminded of Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were accused of not worshiping the pagan god of their king Nebuchadnezzar. When the king threatened them with execution they could confidently say: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18
Even if he doesn’t…
But God did deliver them (Rack, Shack, and Bennie) from the hottest fire, and even sent an angel to accompany them.
(This podcast explores this passage further).
As we grow in faith and Christian maturity, the sins we succumb to are more complicated. Sin is anything that separates us from God. Trying to figure out how to guide a situation according to our desires, or what the future holds for us is not surrendering. This need to hold on to the reigns removes us from God and his peace. Not surrendering to God is a sin.
Recently I listened to a podcast of a sermon where the pastor explained that we have three different types of beliefs: Our internal beliefs are what we think we believe; our external beliefs are what we want others to think we believe, and our core beliefs are what we really believe. Our core beliefs are what influence our thoughts and our paradigms. If we believe at our core that our Heavenly Father is almighty and that he has our best interest at heart, then we will easily surrender everything to him. Therefore, I must examine my own heart and admit that my core beliefs do not align with my internal or external beliefs. Deep, deep down I still don’t trust that God’s got this. In the hidden corners of my being, I do not believe I can hand over control to him.
It is time to loosen my grip, finger by finger and give up the reigns. It is time to let go and let God do what he knows is best.
Jesus, I know everything is possible for you. I do believe, please help my unbelief! (Mark 9:23-24)
The soundtrack for today’s post is Even If by Mercy Me. The first time I heard this song I felt an unexpected resistance rise up in my heart. Now Satan has no hold on these words anymore:
“I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone.
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul”