The Surrender ProjectPosted: March 14, 2011
It was raining when we left, the bucket kind of rain.
We were late enough already, got lost on the way, got slowed by the rain, and it was nearly 8pm when we reached the double wide trailer with the orange cones in the yard to prevent parking on the grass.
Her name is Felicia. We talked for 45 minutes or so and she never did ask us in beyond the doorway, but she was giddy with Jesus.
We talked about what it means to be saved and asked when that had happened in her life.
“Three weeks ago,” she said, “That night at the ladies Bible study.”
It was the night I had talked about stumbling blocks. I had been nervous, because all that week I was working on a different lesson but 2 o’clock Friday morning He woke me up with a completely different lesson and I went with it and relied heavily on Him to get the message out.
Felicia had wept through the entire lesson.
Until finally she had burst out in loud, uncontrollable crying and we waited for the Spirit to birth something among us and she blurted out, “My mom died suddenly 4 weeks ago and I’m a train wreck.”
Jesus came to save the sick and to bind up the broken and she was in the right place.
She told me that since that night, her life has been different. She has peace. Joy. She has read the Bible every day with a new hunger, an unquenchable thirst. She said she feels God’s arms around her and wants to tell everybody about it.
Said She’s falling in love with Jesus.
After the visit, the girl with me talked, shared things I hadn’t known before. We traveled dark, rain slicked miles back to church and kids and schedules and delayed bedtimes. Right there in that van He spoke to me: Told me how I somehow thought I could fulfill God’s plans and dreams for my life my way, and hadn’t tonight shown me that letting Him do things His way is better?
Dear Journal, Like Abraham and Sarah, I’ve had God promises breathed over me. I can point to chapter and verse. I know God has promised. The only problem is that I’ve taken those promises and tried to tell God how to fulfill them. Expected Him to do it in my life the same way He’s done it in someone else’s. And when He delayed, I thought surely it must be up to me to make them happen.
But like Abraham and Sarah learned through Ishmael, God’s plans are only fulfilled God’s way.
I’ve given birth to an Ishmael.
Or two. He pierces my heart with the truth: The difference between Ishmael and Isaac is who’s in control.
And I’ve been in control. I’ve invested time and money trying to fulfill the promises of God in my life. I’ve taken control over bringing them to pass, labored long to give birth.
Abraham did learn to give up control (it is possible, hallelujah!)…for when God asked for the greatest sacrifice~Isaac’s life~ Abraham set out to obey. He had finally realized that God’s plans are always… only… fulfilled His way.
And he surrendered.
How? I need to know how, because I’m a control freak. I’m trying to be in control of bringing about God’s plans and purposes and promises upon my life. And my children. And maybe the whole world, at least the one I live in.
That night I saw my Ishmael paths, dear Journal, and my Isaac path and that Abraham could give up his Isaac in Genesis 22 because he had already given up his Ishmael in Genesis 21.
“She said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac. And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham, because of his son (Ishmael.)” Genesis 21:8-13
Be it Arabah or Abraham, we all have a hard time letting go of our babies.
Yet I for one need to realize that “my” babies, those born of my own efforts at fulfilling God’s word for Him…like I could ever do that… will never be heirs of the promise.
“But God said to Abraham, ‘Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac your offspring shall be named.”
So Abraham rose up the next morning, loaded the child and woman up with food, and sent them away. This is how I am to let go? This is the answer for control freaks?
“Yes, it is,” God tells me through Galatians 4. “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh while the son of the free woman was born through the promise. But you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But what does the Scripture say? Cast out the slavewoman and her son for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the slave woman.”
Journal, there comes a time when we must cast out our Ishmael. We must let go of control. We must surrender all our efforts at accomplishing God’s will our way. We must come to the table with no preconceived ideas about how, what, and when God is going to fulfill His word in our lives.
God is calling me to full surrender.
He is asking me to come to the table with absolutely nothing but my “Yes.”
No suggestions, no “helpful” attempts, no preconceived notions. Just a “Yes, Lord. Your servant is listening.”
Journal, you know that I have grown tired, oh so tired, of living the Christian life in the flesh. The pages here record a God who calls, moves, and invites to something profoundly different: a Christian life fully lived in the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God.
No props. No bootstraps. No jazz. No Guarantees. No Rights.
He has brought me to this point and dear journal, I am terribly excited.
It is no coincidence that Loving Husband is preparing for his Dissertation on the Shantung Revival, the revival where missionaries, pastors, and laity alike had Acts 2 like encounters with the Spirit of God.
Oh, I’ve learned so much from their testimonies! And from Brother Yun and from Bill Bright and others who have testimonies of walking by the Holy Spirit…and throughout them all is this one theme: full surrender.
Precious Jesus has shown me that full surrender isn’t possible for someone who doesn’t fully trust first. He has worked diligently for many years to rebuild trust, to invite me to believe and then show Himself trustworthy.
And now…now He prompts me for surrender. Surrender is never taken by force, it is always given. My spirit responds and He wakes me in the morning with words: “After you have returned, strengthen your brethren.”
I hope to somehow give words to what He is doing in my heart. Even in this, I surrender to Him. His work, His way.
To be continued…