For the past several years I have chosen a single word to encompass the theme I was hoping to live out during the year. In 2014 I chose the word Perseverance. I stuck with that word through 2015 as well. It seemed appropriate to press on for two years with that word.
As December of 2015 dawned upon me, and the close of the year came into view, I felt lost, weary, frustrated, discouraged and just plain out of whack. My vision for my life had gone out of focus. I wanted to give up on pretty much everything. On December 12th I made a proclamation to my husband, Eric. I needed a new prescription for the eyes of my heart to bring my life vision back into focus.
I began praying about my 2016 word or theme. In some ways I was pleading to God that the word be anything but perseverance. I didn’t laugh much at His suggestion that we try a year of endurance. I found myself in a place where I felt there was too much I was trying to persevere in, some of which I need to consider if I should even continue in. At that point more prayers for me.
Then on December 18th I received a prayer via text message from an amazing friend. It was such an incredible encouragement. It was a gift shared between my God, my Friend and myself. It had me pondering what would happen if I just let it ALL go…what if I stopped hanging onto everything so tightly? What if I stopped trying to forcefully push things forward? What if I surrendered and just let go?
As I often do when pondering something I headed to the dictionary. Here’s what Webster.com uses as a simple definitions of the word Surrender:
- To agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know you will not win or succeed
- To give control or use of (something) to someone else
- To allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you
To relinquish, to resign, to yield, to surrender.
I have to admit that to surrender is not a preferred or suggested action in my mind. The phrases “don’t quit”, “never back down” and “fight through to the end” are more often found looping through my mind. But, perhaps there is more to surrender, something that I have missed?
So I went to my Bible. I began by reading James chapter four, about submitting myself to God. Let me share with you James 4:7-10 (NIV), “7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.“
That sounds a lot like surrender. To me, it means to give over control to God, allowing Him to be our primary influence.
Then I went to 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV), “6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Be humble, cast your anxieties, submit to God’s mighty hand, yield to Him, and give control to God. Why?
Because God CARES for you.
Too often, I think the act of surrendering is too often associated with an expectation that pain will follow. If there is a battle and we surrender, we will become prisoners and we will be punished. But what if that is not the case at all? What if when we are surrendering to the Lord, the other side of surrender is great blessing?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8 (NIV).
1 Peter 5:10 (NIV) says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
What if…after we humble ourselves, after we cast our cares & anxieties upon Him, we experience His power, His might, His rest and His freedom?
All I know if this, I have a lot to learn about surrender. Maybe surrender is even a part of persevering. It sure sounds nice to be restored, made strong, firm and steadfast.
That is a path that I would like to walk down in 2016. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
So what about you, my dear reader, do you have a word or a theme for 2016? If so, please let me know. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you and to pray for you.
Right now, in this moment, where ever you are at, God’s mercy and love abound for you. That crazy to-do list, those piles of responsibilities & obligations, the lofty resolutions that persistently beckon you to do more, all of them together are incomparable to the strength of God’s love for you.
God’s love, passion and enthusiasm for you is unending and unchanging. He loves you with a lavish, perfect love. Accomplish all of those goals, responsibilities and resolutions and God will love you lavishly. Accomplish NONE of your goals, responsibilities and resolutions – don’t even come close to one – God will still have an abundant and lavish love for you. He’s God, He loves you always.
May we surrender our cares and anxieties to God, and may we soak in His love for us.
Lord of strength, might, freedom, rest and love,
May we surrender our hearts, minds, souls and strength to Your influence, Your control and Your direction. May we become stronger by what we let go of. May we follow Your lead for our lives in 2016. Help us to not exhaust ourselves by pushing our desires forward. Help us to yield to Your goodness and come into that place of rest.
Lord, please help us to yield to You. May we be moldable clay in Your strong, yet delicate hands. May we flow with the movements of the Spirit and walk beside Jesus at a pace of calmness and serenity. May it be a wonderful experience of personal development to surrender.
In the loving name of Jesus Christ, Amen.