Sunday, May 31, 2015

“God is sovereign,” I said to my friend about a recent answer to prayer. “Nothing to do but be resigned to that.”

In my heart of hearts, I know while that might be an okay starting place, God will require more. He always requires more.

He wants me to move past resignation, into surrender.

By definition, they seem to be the same thing. To give up, to relinquish a position ... to hand over possession or control. But to me, the former seems more passive, tinged with despair. The latter seems more active—a deliberate yielding.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say I need to embrace surrender.

It’s something I’ve heard on several different fronts lately. John Piper preached about embracing suffering at the recent Passion conference in Atlanta. Our pastor keeps talking about taking that step of faith we’ve been nudged toward, how change is good because it forces us to acknowledge our need for God.

In some cases, change would be welcome. At times it’s the very sameness of life, day in and day out, that brings us face to face with our need for Him, the unrelenting, agonizing grind of a trial that just will not let up.

Regardless, I struggle with the tedium of what we call “the process.” How I would love to be able to learn a lesson and call it done. But growth only happens over time, and we can’t prepare for that all at once, any more than we can eat Christmas dinner and say we’re good for the next week or month. Or spend an entire day at the gym and expect that we’re suddenly fit and strong.

Why then do I expect myself to become everything God wants me to be in a week, or a month, or a year? For that matter, even ten, or forty?

Scripture talks about the need for us to become mature believers, but what makes me think that means getting to a place where I can use God’s grace as a means to coast, instead of being my absolute strength every single day?

And so, life happens, as it always does, and I’m brought to that point of struggle yet again.  I must surrender, to choose to believe, for the thousandth time, that God is indeed good, that He means what He says, that He does not lie when He says He’ll take everything that’s hard or tragic or seemingly pointless and work it all together for my good.

Why is it so difficult to embrace that surrender? Sometimes, it’s because of the pain I know it’ll bring—separation from a loved one, either permanently in terms of this life or indefinitely; the death of my own wants and expectations and yes, maybe needs. Sometimes it’s fear. Sometimes it’s just plain stubbornness—pride, or being upset that once again God chose a path I wouldn’t have for myself, one that seems the hardest of a handful of very difficult options.

As if He, being God, needed to consult me first.

There’s the heart of the matter, then: my thinking I somehow know better than God. Questioning. Pouting. Twisting away from any attempt to understand and accept and trust that He is God and indeed, His plan is best.

And oh, how sweet the peace when I finally lay down the pride—when I finally lay myself down at His feet and let Him have it all.

Lord, forgive me once again for presuming to judge You, the Creator and Judge of all the universe, for the direction You take me!

“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it.” (Job 40:2, NKJV)
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, NKJV)
This post first appeared March 10, 2013.


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