Friday, January 16, 2015

When Surrender Leads to Victory - Part 1

It has been almost two years since I've written a blog post!  Though I enjoy writing, and have many thoughts to share, I tend to edit myself silent.  Not wanting to waste words or bore a reader to no end, I rehash every single word, and then hit the backspace button until every word is gone!  However, I'm trying to push past that inner editor and just start "writing" things down for my own practice and freedom!  A new year has dawned and with it the opportunity for fresh starts.   So, here I go.  

Several years ago I took a challenge from a favorite author to pray at year's end about a word/theme for the coming new year.   It is a practical way to seek God's heart about a particular area of focus.  One year the word/theme was "rest" - which was greatly needed though easily misunderstood.  Another year brought the word/theme of "favor".  I remember my excitement when He placed that one on my heart!  Who doesn't want to experience His favor in a deep and more profound way?

As 2013 was coming to a close, and I began praying about the coming year's focus, the word "surrender" came to the forefront.  To be honest my initial response was one of disappointment.  Following a year of God's favor, I wasn't so sure I was ready for surrender!  Surrender, to me, meant giving up (in a negative sense).  However, I realized that God's purpose and direction would go so much deeper than that.  As 2014 began, I was in the middle of a year long devotion series by Rick Warren (via the YouVersion Bible App).  Imagine my surprise, delight, and conviction, when I saw the focus of the devotion on the second day of the year:  "Surrender!"  Here's an excerpt:
"Surrendering your life means:
1)  Following God's lead without knowing where He's sending you;
2)  Waiting for God's timing without knowing when it will come;
3)  Expecting a miracle without knowing how God will provide;
4)  Trusting God's purpose without understanding the circumstances."
From January 3rd:

"In surrender, you begin to really live the life God intended..." 
 From Draw the Circle, by Mark Batterson:  "Our job is simply to consecrate ourselves by yielding our will to His will... If we consecrate ourselves to God, amazing things will happen...  Consecration is a complete surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ."  And this:  "Consecration is a process of surrender that never ends."  

2014 brought with it some physical pain and challenges (frozen shoulders), as well as great loss (the passing of my beloved big brother, Jackie).  God, in His goodness, had been preparing me to walk through those difficult times with grace as I was leaning into this way of surrender - "not my will, but Yours".  That is not to say that I did it perfectly and without complaint, but there was a context of His presence and purpose that kept me seeking growth during this part of my journey.

Here is some more food for thought that I was given through devotional reading:
"Stubborn temptations and overwhelming problems can be defeated by Christ when handed over to Him (think Joshua & the Battle of Jericho).  Surrender doesn't weaken you, it strengthens you."  
"Why surrender?  Because you belong to your Creator --- God has a right to direct your life."
(Romans 14:7-9)
More nuggets:
"Everybody surrenders to something or someone in life.  If not God, you'll surrender to popular opinion, to money, to resentment or fear, or to your own pride, lust, and ego.
We were designed to worship something, and when we fail to worship God, we create gods (idols) to surrender ourselves to.  E. Stanley Jones said, "If you don't surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos."
"You're free to choose what you surrender to, but you're not free from the consequences of that choice:  'So give yourselves completely to God (James 4:7 NCV).'"
"Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live.  Nothing else works.  All other approaches lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction."
"Surrendering your life is not a foolish emotional impulse but a rational, intelligent act, the most responsible and sensible thing you can do with your life.  Your wisest moments will be those when you say yes to God."  2 Corinthians 5:9
Wrapping it up with a few more thoughts gleaned from the year of surrender:
"Surrendering is never just a one-time event.  There is a moment of surrender and there is the practice of surrender.  The practice of surrender requires perseverance.  It is moment-by-moment and lifelong.  You may have to re-surrender your life 50 times a day.  It is time to surrender - to God's grace, love, and wisdom."
In closing, I'd like to go back to my very first encounter with the word/theme in 2014:  Surrendering my life means following a God who knows where He wants me to go and how to get me there.  It means waiting for God's timing because He's always right on time.  It means expecting miracles because nothing is impossible with God.  And, it means trusting His purposes because God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

So, there is no need to fear or be disappointed at the thought of surrender.  Ultimately, it brings freedom, power, and victory!