I grew up in the Baptist Church. We learned our Bible and sang some beautiful hymns. One comes to mind now as I sit down to write this blog: I Surrender All.
As I sang that song in my childhood, I had no idea what a journey of surrender would look like. It is not a word that excites us as strong, capable women. We do not want to think of ourselves as surrendered to anything or anyone.
I used to pride myself on my independence. I really didn’t think I needed close friends or input from anyone. I was good on my own. I had my family, of course, but I never really asked them for much either.
And, as is often the case, He did so by bringing someone up close and personal in my life.
That someone was The Smart Carpenter’s own, Alyssa Preston.
I worked on staff at my church, and I had met Alyssa (AP as I fondly call her) at our annual Easter outreach where she served on my team. I loved her professionalism and the fact that I could count on her to handle the duties of the day with little instruction or oversight.
This casual acquaintance was comfortable and fine with me. That all changed when she joined the staff and we ended up working very closely with each other. I took over a position that she had created, so we were in close daily contact.
As my independent self, I don’t like being told what to do by others (unless you’re my boss, leave me alone). Alyssa would often start conversations with me like this, “What you need to do is….”. Honestly, it drove me nuts! But God didn’t make her go away. Instead, He spoke through another person to help me see the value in her input and her friendship.
It was through accepting her love and voice in my life that I grew personally and in ministry. We now have a relationship that truly exemplifies Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” We have given each other permission to speak truth in love into each other’s life and although this is not always comfortable, it is absolutely necessary for growth!
As I look back on it now, it’s hard to believe I almost threw away one of my most precious relationships because I struggled to see God’s growth plan for my life. My initial response reflects something we all have to face at some point or another. We must choose to surrender our ideas, plans and pursuits to the ones that God has for us.
Romans 12:1 (TPT) puts the process of surrender into perspective for us.
Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? To surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.
Surrender is our response to God’s wonderful mercy and grace. Surrender is not forced upon us, but it is our choice to freely give back to God in gratitude for all that He has done for us. He loves us and He saved us, therefore we surrender.
Learning how to be a living sacrifice is not complicated although it is far from easy. Surrender to God is uncomfortable. In fact, I have never once heard God ask me if I was comfy. Usually, when God tells me to do something that I never dreamed was possible or I had no desire to do, I initially resist. For example, have you ever had to forgive someone when you were right, and they were wrong? Then you know what I’m talking about here!
God is not being mean or uncaring when He asks us to surrender as living sacrifices. He is simply more interested in our best life than in our present comfort. He knows us intimately and it is His desire that we become all that He has called us to be. It simply requires our surrender.
Surrender is tough on our desire to be right. I am convinced this is why it is a daily decision. We must choose to set aside our own thoughts and plans and seek God for His. The more we do this, the easier it becomes.
So here are two easy steps that will help you make this decision, every day.
First, worship God. When you sit in His presence and worship Him, you are acknowledging His power and perspective and realigning with Him. Romans 12:1 tells us that becoming living sacrifices IS worship. When you willingly choose His ways over yours, you are surrendering. This is your genuine expression of worship.
Second, take time to ask God about decisions throughout your day. Surrender brings you to the end of your intelligence and abilities and teaches you to lean into the power and presence of almighty God. Make it a habit not to proceed in any task or decision without first asking God, “What do YOU think about this?” Just imagine all that we could avoid by pausing to ask God before we plunge ahead with our own plans!
If you’re wondering whether or not you need to surrender in some area of your life, look for places where frustration is high. This is often a sign that you are trying to fix something or someone in your own ability or strength. Another way of thinking about what’s actually happening here is summed up in a word we don’t like, but one that applies: pride.
We would never admit that we think we are smarter than God, but our actions say differently. Taking time to worship and submit our plans to Him keeps this tendency in check.
I want to encourage you to join me on this journey of surrender. To worship God, every day. To include Him in your everyday decisions. I cannot promise that it will be easy or comfortable, but the rewards of doing things God’s way are beyond measure!
Kathi is a lover of God and His faithfulness. She is a daughter, wife, mom of two awesome women and Grammy to two grandsons—her reward! Her best thinking time is when she's running, and she runs a lot! Kathi's love for books is rivaled by her love for new experiences. Whether traveling in a new country, riding a roller coaster or on a motorcycle, she's always ready for an adventure. And that is her life right now—one adventure after another. With a background in math education and many years as church staff, Kathi is now on an incredible journey as a missionary.