“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city…”
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow….”
“Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4: 13,14 &15
I enjoy routine. I am not time conscious (if you listen carefully you can hear my husband chuckling at this understatement). But I do very much delight in the familiarity of daily pattern.
Our life calling challenges this often and loud.
The third world is nothing if not unpredictable. And traveling internationally is fraught with opportunity to be delayed or rescheduled.
The constant changing is difficult for me. (again with the understatement…)
The last year has provided many occasions to exercise new and better ways of coping with abrupt redirection.
It hasn’t been pretty.
But it has been effective.
I have been forced to practice waiting.
And I am learning, albeit slowly and painfully: Being in control is an allusion.
I think this is always true, but when faced with the disappointment of a missed occasion or anticipated gathering, the truth is very pointed and acute.
I am not in control.
There are many discussion points as to why this realization is so difficult.
But today I am considering the practice of Surrender.
The definition of surrender often correlates to opposition.
“Cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.”
“Give up or hand over typically on compulsion or demand”
“To abandon oneself entirely to a powerful emotion or influence; to give in to”
Surrender most often connotes a negative thing. (No one wants to lose.)
Surrender also suggests a ‘taking’. Someone else gets the thing I am giving up.
The win. The esteem. The control. Another party wields those good things.
This is, among other things, uncomfortable.
And a seeming display of weakness.
I am struck by the complete counter cultural requirement of a life pursuit of Christ.
Seeking after the heart of God. Experiencing a Spirit led life—requires this practice we encapsulate in weakness.
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘stay here and keep watch.”
“Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Mark 14: 34-36
This ultimate surrender—the death of Jesus Christ—did not end with oppression. Or burden. Or even, loss.
His surrender, brought life.
"...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full....I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me---just as the Father knows me and I know the Father---and I lay down my life for the sheep....I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."
John 10: 10b,14-15,28
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us….” I John 3:16
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Love changes everything. Turns stuff upside down and backwards.
Redirects the loss.
And makes it all new.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Surrender (ceasing to resist; handing over; losing; submitting) saturated in love equals a Brand. New. Thing.
Beyond all we ask or imagine.
“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…to him be glory…throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3: 17b-21
So, when I'm feeling pounded by the change of plans and unforeseen road blocks, I do have control over something.
To surrender or not. "Thy will be done..."
There is a Love at work on my behalf. "I have loved you with an everlasting love... Jeremiah 31:3"
My cooperation is not required. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
But my cooperation, changes me.
Redirects the losing.
It makes me New.
One merciful morning at a time.
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”