Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do Not Be Overcome! The Power of Surrender


Thomaseagle at wikimedia.org
Get out a pencil and a clean piece of paper. This is a pop quiz. We have reached weapon number seven! But let's see if you remember the first six weapons. This quiz will be fill-in-the-blank. Please don't look at your neighbor's answers. Ready?

1. Weapon #1 is Receiving _____. (hint: it's what the world needs more of according to Jackie DeShannon)
2. Weapon #2 is For____ness. (are you sweating?)
3. Weapon #3 is T___________ (hint: it rhymes with yanksliving)
4. Weapon #4 is H_m_l_ty (I know this is tough. Hang on, you're almost there!)
5. Weapon #5 is The ______ Word. (hint: it rhymes with pokin', as in "Don't go pokin' your nose in."
6. Weapon #6 is F______ (hint: it rhymes with zasting)
Bonus question: What is my favorite food?

By: doctor_bob at Morguefile.com
Time's up. Put your pencils down. How'd you do? Let's all trade papers and we'll grade them now.
1. Receiving Love
2. Forgiveness
3. Thanksgiving
4. Humility
5. The Spoken Word
6. Fasting
Bonus question: My favorite food is the always versatile potato, and if you don't know that, then you have probably never read this blog before today. I'm glad I wasn't around during the potato famine.

Good job on your quiz! Pat yourself on the back, and get ready for weapon seven. It's a doozy. Actually, I saved this one for last, because it's not so much a weapon as it is a lifestyle. Living a life of surrender to Jesus is what I'm aiming for. Because being fully surrendered to Him is the ONLY way I can be happy in this life. Let me tell you what I mean.

I remember standing in my kitchen shortly after Bob was held up at gunpoint. I was feeling many things, but high on my list was surprise. I was surprised that yet another bad thing had happened to us after the things we had just been through. I guess I thought that there was some kind of limit. Like, you get only x amount of bad things in a twelve month period, or something like that. 

When I started getting serious about God changing me instead of my circumstances, He showed me pretty plainly what was really behind my surprise. 


Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
1 Peter 4:12

I know this verse is specifically referring to suffering for being a Christian, but I think I could ask myself this same question about the difficult things that happen in my life. I'm not necessarily suffering for being a Christian, but I'm living in a broken, sinful world. Bad things just...happen. Why should I be surprised? After all, Jesus told us it would be this way.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

I remember very clearly the moment the Lord showed me that disappointment in life is directly related to feeling that I am entitled to better. And behind it all is offense. Ugly, but true. I felt I did not deserve the things I got, and I was offended. I was offended by the people who hurt me and my family. And I was offended by the very circumstances that in the end, helped me grow in ways I never would have if my life was just a day at the park. 

I know so many people disagree with this, but I'm not entitled to anything. I don't deserve anything. This is completely opposite to what the world tells me every day. It seems backwards. Aren't I supposed to be looking out for myself, putting myself first, taking care of myself? Aren't I supposed to be demanding my rights, fair treatment in everything, and the best that life can offer? Aren't I supposed to be grabbing and fighting for happiness? These ideas are so ingrained in us, but in God's world, they are dead wrong. 

My heart is so full of love for the one Man who really does deserve everything: the best treatment, the most respect, the greatest honor. And yet He came down to this broken world and showed us a different way: the backward but better way. He had every reason to demand proper treatment, but He did not.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant...  Philippians 2:5-7

By: xandert at morguefile.com
Jesus took His servant heart all the way to death on a cross. And I must do the same. My self must die up on that cross with Jesus.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,...

If this is true, then I am dead. I heard someone say once that dead people can't be offended. How true! I think of this often. If I have truly died to myself, I won't be offended by the things that might otherwise offend me. But...

...Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

This, for me, is where the surrendering comes in. It is so easy to cling to the many feel-good verses in the Bible, but I know I must take these tougher verses, too. You know-- the having trouble in the world and crucifying yourself kind. Part of surrendering to Him is believing and obeying everything He says, not just the warm, fuzzy stuff. 

The funny thing is, that as I learn to do this, life actually seems better to me. I am happy and free when I live with the knowledge that life is hard, but God is good to me. I have no false expectations. I am not sitting around waiting for bad things to happen, but I'm not surprised anymore when they do. What I do expect and trust is that God's love and His grace are more than enough for me. In His great mercy, He has given me so many wonderful things I don't deserve! Every good thing I have is a free gift from Him.

And the growth that comes out of the trials we face is a gift, too. Just yesterday, we found out that Bob has been the victim of identity theft. Now, in times past, this would have really upset me. I would have stewed over this, worried about the outcome, wondered how anyone could do such a thing, been outraged by the work we have to do to try and undo the damage. But yesterday, my very first thoughts were, "Well, this is not surprising. This world is full of dishonest people, but I'm not even afraid, because I know the Lord will defend us. He's got our back, and it's going to be okay." I thank the Lord for bringing me to a place of deeper trust in Him. 

When I think of surrender to God and His ways, I think of my kids and the way they play "Surrender." For me, it paints a lovely picture of what happens to us when we completely surrender to the Lord. I have a video to illustrate this point. It was taken last summer in a hotel room.

Speaking of being offended, I realize that I may offend some of you with  this little video clip. If small children shooting pop-guns offends you, then I suppose you'd better not watch my 30 second wild west movie.

video

Okay, the gun part does not fit my illustration. God never forces us into surrender. It is completely voluntary. It's what happens next that I love. When we lift our hands to Heaven and say, "I surrender to You, Lord," we can fall. We can completely free-fall, knowing that we will have a soft landing, right in the hands of God. Surrendering may seem scary, but it's really the safest place to be.

I pray that like my little Ben, you will be able to raise your hands and free-fall into the safety of the Father. I have written a prayer of surrender, because for me this is a daily event. Sometimes, uhh..more like oftentimes, my self tries to raise from the dead! It's like the bad guy in the movies that you think is dead but keeps scaring the living daylights out of you.

So, I'm kind of shyly sharing this prayer with you, in the hope that maybe you will pray it with me, or that it will inspire you to pray your own prayer of surrender to the King of our hearts.



Prayer of Surrender
Lord, You are my strength every morning. You are worthy of all I have to give You. I give you all my trust, my love, my worship. I raise my hands and surrender to you my very life. I fall into Your faithful hands. I surrender my heart to You and all my desires. Forgive me for the times I have taken offense and held on to disappointment, hurt, or anger. I let those things go now, and surrender myself to Your ways. I will live today as one crucified with Christ. Jesus, be alive in me today! I will live by faith in You and You alone. When trouble comes, I will not be surprised, but I will take heart, because I know, Jesus, that You have overcome this world! I will not be afraid, but I will trust in You, because I know You love me and care for me. Lord, put in me a servant's heart, so I can walk as Jesus did. When people hurt or disappoint me, I will choose to love and forgive. With the grace you poured out on me, I will extend grace to others. Lord, You are my shield, my defender, my salvation, my song, my strength, my safe place, and my desire, and it is my joy to surrender to You. Teach me. Change me. Grow me.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.

3 comments:

  1. R~ this is so packed and beautiful. Just what I needed to hear and let settle into the soil of my heart

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  2. So, so good! Thank you for your work (I know it takes work to post these) and for sharing your prayer with all of us.

    On another note, the funny thing about that video is that I misunderstood Sam when he said, "Say I surrender!" I thought he said, "Say 'out the window!'" And then Ben said, "Out the window!" And out the pretend window he fell. Funny. Also, I like how there's nothing more anti-climactic and comical than the sound of a deadly pop-gun.

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  3. This reminds me of my recent readings. Romans 8:17 says "Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (NIV)
    I stare wide-eyed at that amazing yet sobering Truth. It has been sinking in slowly, but I still have a ways to go.
    So sorry about Bob's identity theft. Good thing our true identity lies in secure arms.

    Love you dearly!
    Amber

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