Yesterday, I listened to a lovely young woman from Kenya talk about her childhood, living with a mother who was surrendered to the Lord. She spoke of how common it is for Christians to talk one way but act another, but that her mother always lived out exactly what she spoke. She (the mother) believed in the Lord, and walked with Him every single day. This young woman grew up learning to live with and for the Lord every day. He was included in every aspect of life. It was not until she came to America that things began to change. She said after being in this country for awhile, she realized that she began to live her own life, make her own decisions.... only considering later that maybe she should ask the Lord what He thinks of her plans- hoping that He would either agree, or if not- given enough time He may change His mind. God was no longer the main source, He was an after thought. Can you relate to that? I can.
I, of course, have lived my whole life in this country.... in the self centered, me-oriented culture. My mother raised me to be "independent"! I was a master of "I can do it by myself!" Surrender and reliance on others is a weakness. This is the legacy my mother passed on to me. And my father just stepped back to let my mother "handle me", choosing to remain a passive influence in my life. The world I grew up in was one where men stayed out of the way, and the woman ran the show- she was the one in charge. Very feministic, and very backwards to the life I have now chosen for myself.
It took me YEARS to realize that I could not do everything myself.... I was not (and am not) superwoman. It took years and very hard circumstances for me to learn that I could not control everything. I needed my husband's help. I was not strong enough on my own. It took a couple more years to learn where that strength and help I so needed should come from---God. It was quite a process to shift control of my family from myself to my husband (where he is called to be the head of the household). I had to learn the truth behind biblical submission. And I have to say that our family runs so much better- I am so much better- living under the authority structure that God developed for families. I have learned how to surrender to my husband, and since I know that he has his best intentions at heart for me and our family, I can trust in his authority and decision making.
So shouldn't I be able to do the same just as easily when it comes to God? He has my best at heart as well, doesn't He? But somehow, those self sufficient ways that were so ingrained in me growing up- the "Me, me, me, I can do it myself so stay out of my way" thinking that prevails our society- this still clings on. Often I don't even recognize it. I'm just too consumed with running my own life to stop and think about where God is in everything I am doing. And this is because I am not currently surrendered to His will.
I had a period of surrender. It was difficult and challenging. At times even painful-- because God was doing healing work in me. But at the same time I have never felt better in my life, because I knew I was in God's will for me. I opened it all to Him and said, "Have your way, Lord!" Unfortunately, I don't live there. But shouldn't I? I have stumbled off that surrender path, and sometimes feel like maybe I've lost my way a little. But I can see the Lord in the distance, calling out to me, "over here... I'm over here. Let me help you find your way back!"
Jeremiah 4:1-4 (New Living Translation)
“O Israel,” says the Lord, “if you wanted to return to me, you could. You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more. Then when you swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name.”
Coming Judgment against Judah
This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the Lord, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.
Lord God, thank you that you are a patient God full of love and mercy. Thank you that You have a perfect will for my life, and You are eager to share it with me. Please help me be still before you. I want to step back from my busy, crazy world of self sufficiency. I want to learn to wait more on You, to listen for your soft, still voice to guide me. I want to live a surrendered life where my preoccupations rest only on You- on a relationship with you- and not on my problems. Please forgive me for my pride- I want to surrender this power I have tried to hold onto. Soften my hard heart so that your seeds can be properly sewn into my life and then on into the life of others. I love you. Amen.