Happy New Year! I hope you have a good start to 2016 and I pray that you know God’s blessing in the year ahead.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how God led me to focus on the word “Surrender” throughout 2016- a prospect which both excites me and terrifies me.
Since then I have been thinking and praying about where this word will take me in the coming year- trying to work out what lies ahead, trying to figure out what I need to surrender and how.
The truth is I’m not good at surrender. Even in this process I am seeking control and looking for certainty over what the future holds. I want to follow God’s leading- I’d just prefer that he told me exactly where we’re going before we set out.
But, I know, that is not surrender. I know I need to let go of that desire and let him lead, without needing to know where the path will go. I need to let go of the fear that tells me I somehow need to protect myself, that makes me doubt whether God can be trusted. I know God is completely trustworthy. Surrender just doesn’t feel safe- but he has shown me where some of those feelings are coming from and, while it is definitely something to work on, I’m not going to be too hard on myself about it.
A Bible passage that has spoken to me over the last few days is Jeremiah 10. Jeremiah passes on a message from God to the people, warning them about the foolishness of idolatry. He talks of how the surrounding nations try to read their future in the stars, they cut down trees and carve them into idols, they dress these idols as gods and worship them. “Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk.” (Jeremiah 10:5)
By contrast, he points out, God is the true God, the everlasting King, the creator of the world, almighty and all-powerful. It’s obvious which is the more sensible place to put your trust, and which is really safer.
Yet too often, I am like these other nations- building idols, not of wood or silver, but of my own ideas and desires. It is foolish, and this year I want to work towards giving that up, always remembering though that God’s love does not depend on my ability to surrender, but on Jesus’ surrender. All that was necessary for salvation was accomplished on the cross, and that is the surrender that really matters.
I like Jeremiah’s prayer further on in the chapter: “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.” (Jeremiah 10:23-24)
So I think this year will involve surrendering control, surrendering perfectionism, surrendering my will and desires and seeking God’s. Beyond that I don’t know. I do have some books in mind to read and some Bible passages to focus on, but I am trying to take a step back from planning it all out and attempt to follow God’s leading.
I found another Elisabeth Elliot quote which I like. I definitely want to read some of her writing this year- it seems that she has some great things to say about surrender.
“If my life is surrendered to God, all is well. Let me not grab it back, as though it were in peril in his hand, but would be safer in mine.”
I know this is true; the challenge for this year is to attempt to live it.