Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
James 4:10 (ESV)
Series Focus: “A Time for Everything”
Have you ever learned something the hard way? I spent a portion of my childhood pushing against the household rules my parents set, bargaining my way out of trouble, and looking for loopholes for a later curfew. Maybe it was because I didn’t like being told what to do, or perhaps I was blazing the trail for more freedom. Whatever the reason, it did not go well. I often found myself in a dilemma. Either bend to my parents’ wishes and enjoy the benefits of what they allowed, or keep resisting in hopes my parents would give in. So, of course, I did a little of both, and it made for a few tough years.
Even as adults, we battle to control the outcome of our situations, don’t we? On the surface, our manipulations may look pleasing, but when we get in deeper or see clearer, we might have made a different choice. Maybe a better way—a more fulfilling way—is right in front of us, if only we pause to consider. Our pride, selfish desires, assumptions, and stubbornness all impede our truest form of freedom and joy. Simply put, we must surrender this way of living to receive the best of what awaits us. What will surrendering look like? What will we lose? Gain? Release? Endure? I think the problem for us lies in our belief that “we know best.” We don’t.
Surrender holds different connotations. These may include waving a white flag in defeat, quitting a challenging job, or yielding to others on your team. Stick with me here—not all surrender is negative or about giving up. We end bad habits, release grudges, discover new ways of doing things. Each of these scenarios brings more joy to us. We get healthier, enjoy richer friendships, and become more efficient at tasks. But surrendering our lives requires going even further. If we aren’t in control, who will be? There is only One who knows every detail about us. He is our Creator and Savior.
For You created my innermost parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13 NASB)
When you choose to surrender your life to Jesus, He offers you the best results. He understands your every need, every desire, and every thought. But even knowing this, you won’t experience the fullness of surrender until you fully trust who you are surrendering to. How often we want to choose obedience to Him but find it easier to lean toward our own way. God will wait for your cooperation, because surrender requires a posture of obedience. Once your heart, mind, soul, and strength are set upon Him, you will hear from Him more clearly.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you. (Psalm 32:8 NASB)
Refine my mind and my heart. For Your goodness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth. (Psalm 26:3 NASB)
Jesus gave the perfect example of surrendering in obedience to His Father, when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. In Matthew 26:38-39 we read this very account:
Then He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.” And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (ESV)
God’s will would allow Jesus to be crucified. Jesus knew this, but still He prayed for His Father’s will to be done. The reward was greater than the sacrifice – although it did not appear that way. Because of His sacrifice, we now have a sure and steadfast Hope in Christ. Jesus put His will aside for something greater. Maybe we can, too. Is there a situation you can allow God to resolve? Do you have a habit He is asking you to let go of? Do you hold unforgiveness in your heart toward someone? Here is an excellent starting point for all of us:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)
As we seek the Lord and His ways, may we humble our hearts be before Him, renew our minds in His truth, let hope reside in our souls, and find our strength in His faithfulness.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: James 4:10; Psalm 26:3, 32:8, 139:13; Matthew 6:33, Matthew 26:38-39