Submission is difficult. This month's articles may feel unsettling, but that's good! Choosing submission helps us experience peace—something we could all use more of. So let's slow down and take a deeper look at how to surrender to God.
Part One: A Heart Check
Have you ever thought:
- I need to keep my options open because God may ask something I don't want to give or require something that will make me miserable.
- God hasn't done right by me to put me in this situation.
- I'm suspicious of God's plan even though Scripture claims he is good for me.
If you answered yes to any (or all) of these statements, welcome to humanity. Since the Garden of Eden, we've struggled to submit to God's goodness, especially when we cannot understand it. Over the next several days, allow these thoughts to get under your skin. For every yes, ask yourself the "why" behind it. For instance, you may journal: Why do I feel this way? Why did I think it would be different? What did I expect? What did I receive?
Because God invites us into a relationship, journaling and praying about these feelings is a way to clear the air between you and him. This is the first step in giving yourself completely over to God.
- What did God ask from each of these people?
- How did they respond?
- What was the fruit of that response?
Part Two: The Fruit of Surrender
We know that submission is challenging, but let's look at the other side: the fruit of surrender.
Answer yes or no to the following statements:
- I regularly admit to God my real feelings about hard things he's put into my life.
- I've experienced good fruit from "dying to myself."
- I often relinquish my desire to be right and confess sin to God and to others.
- I've experienced how my suffering can draw me closer to Christ.
- I've given up my need to know why with God.
- I've submitted to others' wisdom, allowing them to ask hard questions and push back on my thoughts and feelings about a situation.
We need reminders of God's goodness and our weakness if we're to cultivate a spirit of surrender. Some verses for meditation:
You may want to journal about these questions:
- Do I allow God to be big enough to hold all things—even things that seem evil and wrong—together?
- What does it mean for me to be "crucified with Christ?"
- Do I take on the dependence of a child when I approach God?
Part Three: Embracing the Practice
Henri Nouwen said, "You don't think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking."
Here are some ways you can live out surrender:
Live It #1:
In "What's in It for Me?" the author quotes Augustine: "God gives where he finds empty hands." How can you cultivate the inner emptying of your hands? Each day, spend a few moments "emptying your hands" into God's trusting care.
Live It #2:
Where do you need to stop asking "why"? Rather than asking (again) to understand, consider breathing in this thought: God, I trust you. I surrender to the truth of your goodness, even when I don't understand your way.
Live It #3:
The next time you have an argument with a loved one, don't justify yourself. Submitting can feel like a passive gritting of the teeth and a forced apology. But in this case, surrendering is about letting all justifications for why there's tension flow out of the mind, placing those excuses in God's hands.
Live It #4:
Invite a close friend to speak truth to you. Give them a few prompts by asking:
- "What fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26) do you not see manifest in my life?"
- "Where do you notice that I struggle to let God be in control?"
In addition, you can share your experiences with submitting and ask them to share their journey with "giving over to the goodness of God."
Submission doesn't come easily. But God reveals through Scripture that he loves our humility and honesty. When we approach him in a spirit of surrender, both in our relationship with him and with the struggles of this world, we experience the sweet fruit of his presence and peace.