While we have been extremely blessed with our five wonderful children, we have encountered some challenges with strong wills. For a couple of them, surrender to our wishes didn’t come without a struggle and fight. Since we are still in this training stage with our two youngest girls, we see the daily evidence that surrender is not easy. In reality, giving up our personal desires and wishes is a rather ugly and distasteful thing to us. When our strong-willed daughter chooses to submit and obey the first time, it brings joy to our hearts because we know that her desire to please us is greater than her own desire for control. This has given me a small glimpse of how beautiful our surrendered heart is to God.
Why is total surrender to God so difficult for us? There seems to be two key elements that often hinder us from “letting go and letting God.”
One element that seems to be a vital ingredient to surrender is trust. My little girls will have a hard time surrendering to my wishes if they don’t trust me. In the same way, you will struggle in surrendering to God until you know Him and learn to trust Him. Having fear rather than trust in God often keeps us from surrendering, and the more we realize God’s great love for us, the easier it is to surrender to Him because “…perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) A good way to discern how much you know and trust God is to take a honest look at how you respond to Him when He allows disappointments and sorrow into your life.
The second barrier to total surrender is a spirit of pride or wanting to be in control. Our natural desire as human beings is to have control of everything in our lives, and we grapple to give up control. Trying to deal with life’s circumstances can be a hard struggle, but usually our biggest struggle is not from our circumstances, but rather from within us. This is, in reality, a struggle with God! Our focus is on trying to control what happens to us, rather than trying to become more like Him. We try to determine what WE want to do with our lives instead of determining what GOD wants us to do. We need to accept the fact that we will never be able to control what happens to us. If we give up our desire to control, God can then freely orchestrate the events in our lives, and we will be delighted to express the music through which He is glorified. When our pride drives to control, we end up imitating Satan more than Jesus.
My strong willed daughters are learning that they can’t always do what they want to do; They are being molded and shaped by the values that we want them to embrace. If they would be left to themselves, I’m afraid they would become extremely self-centered and arrogant. Their sin natures must be dealt with, and they need to realize that life is much bigger than themselves. I wonder if my Heavenly Father sees any similarities between their struggle for control and my own. If God wouldn’t intervene with consequences in my life, what would happen to me? Is He unfair and unloving when He allows me to face hardships and difficulties in this life, or is He simply helping me to become molded and shaped into His image?
The next time you are experiencing a trial or loss, look at it as an opportunity to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. Rather than becoming angry and bitter at God, I challenge you to test your level of commitment to Him. Can you genuinely pray this prayer? “Dear Father, I trust You in this situation because I KNOW You and BELIEVE that You are only allowing what is the very best for me. Your Son, Jesus, showed surrender to You when He prayed “… remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” In the same way, I am asking for this “cup” to be removed from me. However, if this difficulty, pain, sickness, strained relationship, diagnosis, or problem is needed to fulfill Your purpose or for You to receive glory, please don’t take it away! I will bear it with Your enabling grace.”
This is genuine surrender but I can assure you that it never comes easy. Rather than rebelling when we have questions like, “Why God?” we should be praying for a beautiful heart of surrender to God. This is our greatest act of worship! How are you worshiping Him today?
“When we completely surrender ourselves to Jesus, we discover that He is not a tyrant, but a Saviour; not a boss, but a Brother; not a dictator, but a Friend.”