I learned about surrender at the bottom of an empty bottle of anti-anxiety medication.
Last winter, my world turned upside down. Health issues I battled reared their ugly head. These issues caused financial burdens and negatively impacted my marriage, relationships, and life overall. There was no area of my life my illness hadn’t touched.
I felt like my world was crashing down around me, and all I could do was cower in the corner and cry out to God.
What is happening? Why is this happening to me? How will I ever return to normal?
The sobering answer I received: there was no returning to normal. This was my new regular.
In Exodus 14:13–14, Moses and the Israelites had their work cut out for them (had an arduous task). It says, “Moses answered the people,
‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm, and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still’” (NIV).
The armies were approaching, and as they were quickly surrounded, they figured their time was up. Yet, this command from Moses allowed them to complete a counterintuitive task that, when they did so, allowed them to let go of their pride and self-sufficiency and allow God to do the impossible. When they laid down their weapons, God opened the doors for them to get out of harm’s way and allow God to work miracles.
But as Christians, it is hard to lay down the areas of our lives and surrender control. Our marriages, children, and incomes are just too tempting to give over to God. But when we give God complete control over every area of our lives, we understand the fullness of God’s good and gracious nature.
How can we let go and surrender control to God (even when we don’t want to)?
I know that sounds simplistic, but having an intimate relationship with God helps me trust Him more. When He is speaking into my life, and I’m learning more about Him in His word, it is easier for me to let go of the stubborn areas of life I am unwilling to surrender. Pray regularly, and surrender will become easier.
2. Seek counsel. Don’t do life alone.
Throughout Scripture, no one did life alone. Adam had Eve, the disciples had each other, and David had Jonathan. Even God exists in three persons! Surrender becomes natural when you have a loving support system of people who have been in a similar situation, or at the very least, can pray and love you through the difficulty surrender can be.
3. Rebuke the lies.
When we embrace surrender, the enemy swoops in, speaking lies and making us believe it is easier—and even better—for us than giving it to God. The best place to replace lies with the truth is God’s Word, and it can transform our hearts and minds in ways I could never imagine.
More often than not, God asks us to give something up that seems like a massive deal to us but, in the end, is not as important as the things in our lives that matter most. Consider the things in life that are the most important to you. Where do the areas God wants you to surrender align with the items you consider most important? More specifically, where does it compare to achieving a more intimate relationship with the Savior?
5. Adopt an attitude of gratitude.
It is easier to surrender when you are focused on what you have rather than what you don’t. Jesus, in the last moments before His crucifixion, chose to spend time eating with His disciples, whom He called brothers: While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). The last words before His impending death were to give thanks to His father. If Jesus can do it, so should we.
We may feel like we are losing in one area of our lives, but he has blessed us in other places. Before we go to God with our complaints, we need to shower Him with our praise.
Surrender is never easy. But as Christians, surrender is a natural part of our spiritual growth. By learning to let go, we step out of our way and give God permission to move in our lives.
Listen to Michelle talk about her new book, I Surrender All (Sort Of): Laying Down Our Plans, on the Arise Esther Podcast by clicking here or scanning the QR code on the left.