Surrender. . . Who Me?
When my husband Martin and I were newlyweds, we had a plan for our lives and believed God would get us there in the not-too-distant future. For a while things seemed to be going very well, until Martin started having symptoms that turned out to be a brain tumor. Martin emerged from this experience with some challenging disabilities, and we were left uncertain about the future we’d imagined.
Suddenly we weren’t so sure of our life’s plan anymore. We went back and forth, we prayed, and we spent hours talking it through with our wisest friends and advisors as we adjusted to this new direction for our lives. Fast forward a few years, I became pregnant and we became a family of three. As we figured out the basics of parenting logistics, we learned I was pregnant again—with twins! After they were born, we again made adjustments and actually starting to feel “in charge” again—at least a little. I was still working on church staff, traveling to concerts, and writing and recording with three kids in tow. I even spent the few spare hours I had working on a doctorate in worship studies. Martin was coaching baseball and was active in our community, and together—with help—we were holding down the fort at home.
A couple of years later, we became pregnant with baby number four! It was a fairly uneventful pregnancy until my thirty-seven-week ultrasound, when I learned that our little boy would be born with cleft lip and possibly a cleft palate. I felt a sadness begin to swallow up my dreams of the beautiful, flawless baby boy we expected. As I grieved, I worked to surrender the expectations I had initially clung to. There was nothing else to do. Don’t Christians trust God in every situation and give him glory no matter what? They do. But they hurt too.
Our pastor friend Bill said, “I think in this season of life you need to just surrender. You give it to God and then you sit tight.” God tells us to consider him, to immerse ourselves in his Word, and to meditate on his truth. When we do this, we’re positioning ourselves for a blessed life, regardless of our circumstances.
I tend to think of every hardship or challenge as a complication in my “normal,” chilled-out state. But these things are just what we walk through. The greater question is, how do we walk through what we walk through? Rather than being an inconvenience, a disability can be a tool in God’s hand—a way for his glory to be displayed. God has kept on doing good things we could never have planned through the unique, unwanted circumstance of Martin’s disability and each of life’s other challenges.
I understand that surrender may seem forced on us when the obstacles are supersized. But what about when the challenges seem more ordinary? Is complete, open-handed surrender still the secret to a blessed life? Is it still the door that opens into God’s presence, where the psalmist insisted there is “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11 NASB)? I believe it is. Not just in the losses, but even in the victories, surrender is the secret to a life of joy. I want to surrender my life to the one who loves and cares for me, the one who knows and does what is best and brings himself glory in the process. God deserves it.
How would you describe your trust in God’s love and care for you?
In what ways do you struggle to give up control of your life to God? In what ways have you surrendered to God?
How have you experienced joy and blessing through open-handed surrender to God? How could you begin the process of surrender to God?