– Dana Smith, Women’s Equipping Coordinator
Have you ever had one of those days? You started out with a plan. You were going places. Accomplishing things. Then bam! Life hit. Suddenly your day was upended and you had a choice to make – to fight it or to surrender.
Surrender: To give up; to admit defeat, usually by force.
There are so many negative connotations contained in that one word. It speaks of battles, lengthy and hard fought. It speaks of something you don’t want to do, somewhere you don’t want to be.
For me, that place of surrender happened the first day of the February Battle for Your Domain event. I was scheduled to co-lead but woke up feeling sick. Medications brought only limited relief. I wanted to pull through but made plans for a handover if my body refused to cooperate. I had full faith that the others leading with me would come through and that God would be faithful. But still, the need to push to be there was strong.
After praying through my options, I realized that the tension I felt was from a closely-held desire to be there with my daughters who were both at the event. I wanted to be in the room with them, to have them in my world and to see them experience me being who God has called me to be. That was a good longing born of love and connection.
“God, will you come through? Can I push through or should I rest as my body is telling me to do?”
“Which choice,” he asked me, “is consistent with what I’ve been speaking to you, where I’ve been taking you?”
“Surrender to rest”
2019 has been a year of small surrenders – mainly surrendering my schedule, which has been “re-ordered” almost daily and allowing the chaotic shiftings to not stress me, to not undo me. I’ve been choosing instead to acknowledge that if I’m truly offering my schedule to the Lord and he chooses to re-order it, I can choose to graciously accept.
But surrendering when you’re supposed to be leading an event is no small surrender. That’s much bigger.
“You have a part, but it’s only a part. And it’s not even the lead part.” Eeek. Another thing he’s been speaking to me this year. It leaves me feeling humbled.
So I chose surrender. I laid down my desires, my deep longings to come through and connect with my daughters. I chose to let it all go and accept God’s invitation to rest. On the surface it seems like a small decision, maybe even an obvious one. But for me it’s been a long time coming.
You will never experience true rest without complete surrender. As long as your surrender is conditional there will be things you feel you have to fight to protect.
“Surrender to forgiveness”
The reality is that if I’d chosen to push through, I would still have ended up in the same place – bed. The difference was in the choosing. In the choosing, I made a decision to cooperate with where the Lord was leading. In the choosing I experienced redemption, because I haven’t always made that choice. Many times when faced with the choice between my desires and God’s gentle pursuit, I’ve chosen my own way. And those times have pained me. I’d repented of them but they still haunted me. The wrongness of it. The guilt. The condemnation. Even knowing God had forgiven me. I still held myself to account.
“It’s time to forgive yourself,” he whispered that afternoon. “It’s time to let it go. You were young. You weren’t then who you are now. You wouldn’t make those same choices. Let it go.”
And I experienced forgiveness. Always extended by him. Now extended to myself. Grace that I gave to the person I was. Freedom.
But God had more for me in this place of surrender. I experienced total rest and peace in the surrender. And in that place, God spoke to me a truth that I’d asked him about for a long time.
“You will never experience true rest without complete surrender. As long as your surrender is conditional there will be things you feel you have to fight to protect.”
What does it look like to experience peace in the midst of chaos, in the midst of stress, of things not done? I have within me a deep longing for rest. But I never get there. There is always more to do. How do you rest when things are undone, unfinished? There is never a time when there’s not something to do. The answer – total surrender.
“Surrender to his control”
The story of my life – surrender, with parameters. Which is really not surrender at all. I’ll do what you’re asking God, but here’s what I need or here’s the framework within which I’ll do it. Here’s how I’ll control it. Here’s how I’ll grasp and hold onto those things I want. In my conditional surrender I positioned myself for battle. How can you ever find rest when you’re setting yourself up to fight for your desires, your rights, your needs?
Complete surrender means giving up everything – all attempts to hold onto that which you desire. To lay those desires – to come through, to be safe, to have people or things – on the altar and say “I let go.” Not to give up or give in but to lay it down and trust that God is enough.
I started that day with a plan. Places to go. Things to accomplish. But God in his tender love for me invited me instead into surrender. A place I thought I didn’t want to go. A place where I long to live.
One Step Further:
- Is there a place in your life where your surrender to God’s plan has been conditional?
- What would it take for you to enter into total surrender with God?
- What kind of support do you need to choose total surrender there?