Willing Surrender

Crown Of Thorns

This is the first year I have had one word as a focus for the year.  I had heard a lot of other people talk about how much they had learned and how much they had been impacted by focussing on a single word, so I was interested to give it a try, but I was not prepared for how much God would teach me through it even in the first week.

The word God led me to was “Surrender” and the thought of it scared me, but the first lesson I have learned is that I had a pretty confused idea of what the word actually meant.  Now that God has corrected that, I feel a lot easier about the whole thing.

It all came back to a memory from childhood, but the basic fear was that if I said yes to surrendering to God I was giving up all control, and that he was going to force me to places I didn’t want to go.  He went on to show me that this could not be further from the truth of who he is.

A couple of days later, God asked me to do something I didn’t want to do.  I had reasons to justify it, but really they were excuses.  I wrestled with it a bit, and in the end I disobeyed.

Obviously this is not good, but I did learn two important lessons from it.

Firstly it showed me how deeply rooted my selfish desires are, and how skilled I am at justifying these desires to myself.  I have been reflecting on Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34 this week: “If any of you wants to be my follower you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me.”  and I realise I have some work to do in this whole area.  The thing God asked me to do was relatively small and if I can’t obey him in the small things how can I expect to obey him in the big things?

The second lesson was probably more important though.  God didn’t force me to obey him.  He could easily have orchestrated the situation so that I would have felt obliged to do what he was asking me to do, but he didn’t.  He gave me the choice about whether to obey him, and it was a genuine choice.  I made the wrong choice, but I had the power to make that choice.

He showed me that surrender is not about him seizing control and leaving me helpless.  It is not about saying yes to walking with God and then being dragged along, fighting and resisting all the way.  The surrender he is looking for is willing surrender.

God reminded me of Jesus’ example.  He was obedient to his Father all the way- coming to earth to live as a man, resisting the Devil’s temptation, doing only what he saw his Father doing.

There was that moment though in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus expressed his pain and anguish at the thought of the suffering that awaited him and he had to wrestle with the prospect of going ahead with God’s plan.  He chose to surrender to his Father’s will, but he genuinely had a choice about whether to go through with it.  Even having come so far already along the road of surrender, he still had control over whether he took the next step.

And that wasn’t the end of it either- when Jesus is arrested he says to his disciples, “Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?”  (Matthew 26:53)  Even at that point he still had the choice.  If he had chosen not to go through with the plan, God would have sent angels to rescue him.

His surrender was about continually deciding moment by moment to keep going and keep submitting to his Father’s will.  It was not a one-time decision that he was then forced to follow through against his will.

This reassures me a lot and makes me want to learn to surrender to God.  If he can teach me all of this in the first week I’m excited to see what I will learn as we go through the year.

linking with Five Minute Friday at katemotaung.com – write for five minutes on a given prompt, which today is “first” 

also sharing with Weekend Whispers and Live Free Thursday

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28 thoughts on “Willing Surrender

  1. I’ve always found it reassuring to know that surrender had it’s hard moment for Jesus too. He asked His Father to “take this cup from me”, but was still willing to drink the cup if it was His Father’s will. It’s comforting to know that He truly understands us when a moment of surrender isn’t easy, and He gives so much grace when we make the wrong choice. Continuing to pray for your year! God bless!

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  2. Wow — “continually deciding moment by moment to keep going”
    That sums it up, perfectly. Great post.

    And I can relate to a “one word” from the Lord being a scary thing! In 2014 mine was “uncomfortable,” in 2015 it was “perspective,” and this year it is “fearless.” The previous two years were scary, but such a rich time of focus on Him.

    I pray you grow closer to and deepen in your love for the Lord over 2016!

    Blessings,
    Selena

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting, Selena. I can see why the words you’ve focussed on the last couple of years would be scary but I’m glad you’ve found them helpful in drawing close to God. Hope you have a great weekend.

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  3. I can relate, Carly. My one little word is act. I’m being asked to act on His dreams for me. One of His many dreams for me is healthy living. I’ve committed myself to eating real food, food that He abundantly provides.

    Eating real food was easy to do while on winter break, but the minute I returned to the classroom, sugar called my name. I decided, moment by moment, with His help, to submit to His plan.

    My surrender is minor compared to that of Jesus, but still, my surrender brings me closer to Him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Act is a great word to focus on. I also find it easy to start with good intentions but harder to keep going, but as you say it’s about relying on God’s help moment by moment.
      I love your comment that surrender brings us closer to him. That’s so true, and that’s what I need to focus on when it seems difficult.
      Praying that God will reveal more of his dreams for you this year and give you the faith to act on them.

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  4. surrender is a scary word…until we reference it to Christ! yes, He is holy, but also loves us without recrimination! He is righteous, but has provided for our redemption freely. He is just but is also perfectly balanced with mercy. What an amazing GOD!

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  5. Carly, you did learn a lot in this first week. Surrender is a doozy of a word, but I believe, it is going to bless you this year. My word is embrace. I’m over in the #6 spot this week.

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    1. Thanks, Tara. I’m sure it will be an interesting year. Embrace sounds like a great word- and I’ve learned a new word too- doozy (though I’m still not quite sure I totally get it). It’s not a word we use here, but two people have used it in comments to me today! 🙂

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  6. I love what God has taught you already, Carly. So insightful that God invites us to surrender but doesn’t demand it. How He wants us to do it willingly, not dragging our feet. And what a beautiful description of Jesus’ willing surrender to the Father’s will. Thank you for these comforting thoughts. I’m looking forward to more of what God teaches you this year.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Carly!
    Yes! You’re getting it so early, you’re going to have a WONDERFUL year in willing surrender. 😀 My year of “trust”…that was a doozy. I was over 4 months in before I completely broke. This was just beautiful. All of it. And so much wisdom in here. Thank you for writing!
    Love,
    Tammy
    (#53 this week at FMF)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Carly, this is also my first year to choose a word for the year (joy). And in a little over one week, God has been teaching me new things daily. I believe both of our words require a willing surrender to God, a walk of obedience to His ways. I’ve battled some of the same fears you mentioned in the beginning of your post, and been reminded that’s not what God is like. I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting year for both of us, not always easy but resulting in growth in our relationships with the Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

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