Going through some of my old journals I found some fun reminders about where I've been and where I am heading and as I read enjoyed some new learning.
As I read, God reminded me about my journey to surrender. In 2013, my first Cuban mission trip, I went with serious control issues. In my life, I was trying to control my work environment, my family, relationships, everything. I was failing miserably at it, I wasn't winning at anything, my family was frustrated with me and I was frustrated with myself. I was simultaneously totally blinded by my need to control. Looking back, I can remember the internal battles I had. Internally, I hated my negativity and the reactions I had to small things, like spilled milk. I had no grace in situations that fell outside of my control.
I recall a circumstance that represents what this looked like in me. I had a glass cake platter and lid that I often kept on the counter with baked goods. One afternoon I made some cupcakes and placed them on the platter. The kids later asked for one. The next thing I heard was glass shattering on the floor and my first reaction was anger. In my mind at the time, I didn't detail it this way, but I was mad that my young kids couldn't lift the heavy glass lid, that they lost their grip and broke it. Control ran so deep in me that I was not first concerned that there may have been injury from the broken glass. Almost immediately, I realized how backwards my response was and I felt God do something in me that allowed me to recover the situation with my kids. In that moment, I had to surrender my pride and my negative emotions. I had to make the choice to show grace, love and mercy. It was through this event that my eyes opened more to the trickle down of how control impacted my broader relationships. I hadn't been showing love to my family the way God desires us to!
While on this Cuba trip, God speak deeper into me about my control tendencies. He drew my full awareness to it and showed me how I had fallen so far that I was trying to control my relationship with Him. That I wasn't willing to let Jesus be my Lord. He was my savior, I believed, I confessed it, but I never let Him be my Lord. I didn't trust Him, didn't seek Him, was trying to do it all on my own and instead of succeeding, I was creating chaos.
Not only did He reveal these things to me, but He brought a path to freedom at the same time. What accepting this path required from me was total surrender. That was the hardest part for sure! Surrender goes against everything the world teaches us. It's not independence, it's not personal strength, it's not personal pride. It is however, Gods way, the opposite of the world. As Christians, we are in the world, but we are not to be of the world. (See John 17:16) So it makes totally sense that we would need to move in places that are opposite of the world, like surrender to Christ.
Are you walking in self ambition and not seeking Gods desires for your life? If something breaks or if milk spills, does it make you angry? Are you short tempered, quick to get angry, quick to speak, irrational in your spontaneous reactions? Do you regret your reactions to certain situations? When you have an opportunity to react differently, do you fail to and instead continue to default to your negative reaction? You may not be ready to hear this, but these are all demonstrations of someone trying to control.
Control has a nasty life trickle down. It starts in small places and grows into all the areas of your life, sometimes without you even realizing it. If you feel like this is where you're living, I encourage you to ask God to reveal if control is something you need to surrender. If He doesn't answer immediately, keep asking. He will eventually. He will not only answer, but He will give you a way out. It will include you surrendering too Him and choosing Him over your own way.
Psalm 19:21 says " Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of The Lord that will stand." Surrender is a total mind set shift from "what I want" to "what He has for me". God wants us to get to a place where we are willing to say "I want what you want for me, because it's better than what I want for myself". After you surrender to Him, what you know you need to do in response may make the subsequent hours, days or months may seem overwhelming. Self assessment, repentance and apologies are hard. They can keep us from moving forward in what God places on our hearts. The fear of the "what if's" can paralyze us.
That was for sure the hardest part of my surrender. It was the part I desperatly wanted to skip past. But I'll tell you what, if God says, "I've got something better.", and you surrender to Him in response, I promise, that what He has will always be better than what we could do on our own. Keep stepping forward, every day, seek him and ask Him what is it that He has for you. When He affirms the next step you need to take, take up courage and do it. He will bless your obedience. He will honor your heart of desire to honor Him.
How to pray for surrender: Psalm 139: 23-24 is an amazing pre-written prayer for us that will lead you into surrender. I prefer the Message version of this particular verse.
" Investigate my life of God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I am about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong - then guide me on the road to eternal life." This verse represents complete surrender! Test me, show me everything I've done wrong and then guide me. Teach me how to do it differently.
If you're seeking surrender, for God to be Lord of your life, I encourage you to start by praying this scripture. In this world where were told we should be able to do it all alone, God tells us that He wants us to rely on Him. Most of us know in our hearts that we need more than what we can do on our own, and it's really about finding the willingness of heart to take the next step. When you surrender, not only will He totally provide your more, He is going to knock it out of the park!