Category Archives: Surrender

‘Course He isn’t Safe…

“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” ~ C. S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

So far, 2012 has been a very hard, very painful year. I’ll leave it at that. A few days ago, I was feeling broken down, helpless, and completely alone. I realized in some ways, I had lost sight of my Jesus. I realized that was the reason everything seems so difficult to cope with. So I sat down and started to read one of my favorite Gospels: Mark.

I love Mark because of the pictures of Jesus, the King of the Universe, as a humble servant. I guess it can be so easy for me to get caught up in my busy life and use that as an excuse not to reach out and help those around me. Mark always reminds me that if Jesus could take time out of His three year ministry to help everyone who came along, I have no excuse to turn my back on anyone. But that really is not what I was wanting to talk about tonight. Instead, I want to talk about the entirely new picture of Jesus I got.

Like I said, I was broken and needing to be reminded of exactly what kind of a Savior I have. So I started reading at the beginning and just kept going for a good long while. I was lying in bed, cuddling with my puppy, catching up with my Jesus, looking for comfort. I got something a little bit different. I got Mark chapter six.

Maybe I should rewind a little. Because before chapter six comes chapter five. The end of Mark five is the story of the healing of Jairus’ daughter. If you read my blog at all, you probably know I’ve written several posts about that story and it is one of my favorites. The next thing I found Jesus doing was having compassion on the crowd and miraculously feeding the five thousand. At that point I was feeling pretty comfortable with my Jesus. I kind of think maybe the disciples were, too.

Then another familiar story: Jesus walking on water and calming the storm. The disciples saw Him walking out on the water and were terrified. They had no idea who it was and thought it must be a ghost to have that kind of power. And then Jesus called to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid!” When He came up into the boat, “they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure and marveled.”

That awe-inspiring power had been there all along. I wondered if the disciples felt any fear, knowing they spent their days so close to so much strength. Yet once the boat lands, Jesus is right back to healing the sick. There was so much power and majesty bound up in the same Man with so much tenderness and compassion.

I was wondering. Thinking about this apparent paradox and letting my mind try to understand what the disciples must have felt in those moments on the boat. Then it hit me: I am in the exact same position. Not only do I spend every day with Him, He lives in me!

That was one of those surrender moments. One of those moments where I suddenly realized I have absolutely not control. And no, it definitely was not the kind of comfort I was looking for. And yes, it was a little scary. But it’s okay because this kind of life isn’t really supposed to be safe. He never said it would be. I guess I still do not need to know if it is safe. I just need to know that He is so very, very good.

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Sandstorm

Everyone tends to talk about storms and rain as pictures of something negative. I never understood that. Rain is beautiful. It’s cool, cleaning, refreshing, reviving. Without water, there is no life. So I never thought rain was a bad thing. Recently I’ve been in a desert of sorts. So many things in my personal life seem so dry, dead, and hopeless. Rain. Rain is all I want. Just a few drops of clean, cool water to rinse away some of the dust and give me a chance to breathe. But rain never comes. There’s always just enough seemingly stagnant water showing up at just the right moment to keep me alive.

Still I stand. I stand and raise my hands high to praise God. I know it’s only by His grace that I can stand here at all. I force myself to thank Him. I choose to believe He has a good purpose. I train my heart to trust even in this. Still… I can’t help but wonder. I see so many people around me so full of joy. It can’t all be pretending. There must be more to this life than just struggling to make it through each day. I can’t believe Jesus was willing to come and walk the earth just so we could have the chance to limp along beside Him. There must be more.

Lord, what would it take for me to feel alive again? What am I doing wrong? How can so many months go by like this? I just need a few cleansing drops of the water of Your Spirit… a momentary brush from Your healing hand… just to touch the hem of Your robe… but it all eludes me. I read Your Word. I pray. And it feels like words on a page and petitions made to the ceiling. I lift my head, despite the pain and exhaustion. I look up, forcing my heart to hope. And what do I get? Another face-full of burning, stinging sand.

Will the sandstorm never stop? How long do you expect me to keep walking through this? I don’t have the strength… but then I never did. I already said I’m only standing by Your grace. And I guess that means You’re still here with me, whether or not I feel it or see Your hand working.


Sometimes…

Sometimes, our Heavenly Father asks us to let go of things, even things we treasure. It is never out of spite or cruelty, but always out of love and concern for our wellbeing. Sometimes something that we think is so very valuable can really be harmful. God only does what any loving Father would in asking us to give up the dangerous things to Him so we will not hurt ourselves. Sometimes the things we are holding onto really are good things, even things He has used to bless us. But if we hold onto those good things too tightly, or if we try to use them for something they were never intended for, He may have to take them away. He loves us too much to let having a good thing get in the way of having the best thing.


It’s Not the End

Abraham was told he would be the father of a great nation and then waited decades, watching as he and his wife aged until the fulfillment of that promise seemed impossible. David was anointed as king and spent years running for his life, even despairing and leaving the land of Israel. The disciples believed they had finally found the Messiah only to watch Him be brutally killed. Throughout the Bible and throughout history, great men of God have been given a vision and then have watched it die. But that’s not the end.

The son of promise was born to Abraham and gave rise to the nation of Israel. David was crowned the king of Israel and ruled well for many years. The disciples saw their resurrected Lord. God allowed it to become impossible for His promises and the vision He gave to come to pass. Impossible for man, but with God all things are possible. And when God left it so that only a miracle could answer the confused prayers of His people, none but Him could receive the glory for the promises being fulfilled.

So often in my life it seems like I’m running in circles. It seems like God says go, only to stop me and say to wait a little longer. It seems like I’m getting nowhere and nothing is happening to bring the promises He has given me into reality in my life. He’s promised to sanctify my life and make me like Him, and still every day I find myself falling to the same temptations. He’s promised to give me a loving, forgiving heart for His people, but there are still offenses I can’t bring myself to forgive. He’s promised me things about my future, yet year after year passes and I can’t see how any part of my life is moving toward those things.

But I know that He is faithful. I know that when He has spoken something, it will never fall fruitless. And I know that His timing is infinitely better than my own. It can be painful to see the impossibility of bringing His will to pass in my own life… but then how much sweeter it will be to see Him do it in a way far better than I could have ever imagined!


“I Cast All My Cares…”

Wow, I am an awful blogger. Over three weeks and no posts. But my stats tell me that for no reason I can comprehend, people are still stopping by. So to my faithful readers, I must say thank you, and I’m sorry. Life’s been crazy for the past few weeks, and with school starting on Monday, things aren’t promising to get any better. My mind has been so scattered all summer long. But right now, in a word, I’m scared. To be a bit clearer, I’m scared out of my mind.

By Monday night, I should be at college, signed up for classes, moved into my dorm, and left alone. Well, okay, not really alone, I’ll be on a campus full of people. But mom will probably be out of the state by then, and the closest people I actually know will be an hour away. My entire life is about change, and every time I think about that, I panic a little.

And yet, looking around, it’s hard to tell the change is even coming. Because I haven’t packed yet, my room looks just like it has for the past three years. Yes, there’s a stack of things for my dorm in the corner, but it’s really not that noticeable. Last night I went to the last service I’ll attend at my home church until Christmas break, and again, aside from a few good byes, nothing out of the ordinary happened. Everybody I see often acts normally, knowing their good byes won’t come until Friday night or Saturday morning.

But something’s off. Maybe it’s just me, but it almost seems like there’s something hanging in the air. Almost a sense of urgency. Suddenly realizing, what if this is the last time I see him or her? What if this is the last time I walk through this park? It’s so strange to realize that in less than two days, I’ll be gone.

Of course, there are other strange realizations as well. The other day, it suddenly hit me that some of my fantasies were coming true. You see, I’m a dreamer. I’ll stare into space thinking about “what ifs” for hours if I get the chance. But when I was about fourteen, one of my favorite things to dream about was going to college. Not just any college, though. I’d seen the students at Calvary Chapel Bible College when we picked Dad up from conferences, and I’d been impressed. I wanted to be one of them. So for hours when I was cleaning or delivering papers or supposedly doing math, I’d be thinking about going to that college. It was one of the things that I wished for, and that I thought would never happen. But it’s happening. I wonder if it’s always this scary when dreams come true.

But yes, I’m scared. I’m worried. Right now all the “what ifs” that come to mind are things that could go wrong. At church last night, though, we sang a song that really hit home for me.

I cast all my cares upon You
I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet
And anytime I don’t what I’m to do
I will cast all my cares upon You

And that’s all it really comes down to. Trust. I’m doing a little better now, and just keep needing to remind myself that He’s in control. He’s taken care of everything. I just need to trust.


Contentedly Single

Well, it’s summertime, and the teens of America are rapidly pairing up. At least, the ones in this small town are. I suppose I wouldn’t really know about what’s going on elsewhere. But among people I know, the last two weeks or so everyone seems to have gotten couple happy. Yet here I sit alone, utterly single. Today I had a conversation with a friend of mine who’s been away for a couple of weeks that went something like this:

“Wow, I come back and it seems like suddenly everyone has someone.”
“I promise I don’t!” I said quickly.
“Oh… I’m sorry. You can smack me now for not thinking.”

I laughed it off, but it reminded me again of a thought I’d been avoiding… everyone has someone- everyone but me.

I started asking God why. Why am I alone? Why am I almost always lonely? I’m so much older, more mature, more ready for a relationship than most of them. All my life I’ve longed for love… when will my prayers be answered? Will anyone ever love me like that? Why do guys never even look my way? Why am I still alone? Why?

Of course there are moments when I’m content. I’ll see a girl pining away after her absent boyfriend and thank God that I’m not dependent on anyone like that. I’ll get caught up doing something and be grateful that I’m free from the complications of a serious relationship. There are times of being so ravished by the endless love of my King that I can’t imagine wanting anything more. But those high points rarely last long, and next thing you know I’ll stumble across someone’s old wedding pictures, or notice the tenderness with which a man looks at his wife, and once again find myself yearning for someone to look at me like that, to slip the ring onto my finger, to promise he’ll never leave me.

So I’ve been struggling with the proper way to deal with this. I mean, I don’t want to completely cut off these emotions. They’re natural, they come from God, in the right context, they’re a beautiful part of His plan for mankind. However if they’re misused or given control, filth and wretchedness must follow. But where is the balance? How can I nurture these feelings in a healthy way?

I decided to stop and thank God for the feelings I’m having, for this wondrous capacity to love. Then, I began praying for my future husband, the man my Father has chosen for me will bring into my life in His perfect time. I reminded myself that until then I must wait, saving myself wholly for that day when I will leave the authority of my earthly father and be given to the man I’ll spend my life with. I also began to feel convicted… how prideful of me to tell God how much more mature and deserving I was than others! How could I tell Him I was more mature, and who am I to judge? And even if I am, does that really mean I’m ready? Ready to unconditionally love and respect an imperfect, sinful man? Ready to submit to him as the head of the household even when his decisions seem foolish to me? Ready to follow him to the ends of the earth even when he can’t always promise a warm home or food on the table? Ready to always be there to help, serve, and love, regardless of his response? No… I’m not ready yet. God still has a lot of work to do on me.

I don’t know what God has planned for my life, but I do know that His plans are so much more than I could ever dream of. He’s not up there in heaven wondering I’m going to get a move on and get a guy in my life. Instead, He’s gently whispering to me, “Be strong, My daughter. I know it seems hard. I know the road may be long. But it’s worth it. I have better things in store for you. I love you, precious child… when have I failed you? Do you trust Me?”

I still long for marriage. I look forward to spending my life with the man I love. I want to be his helpmeet, the mother of his children, the bride of his youth, the companion of his old age, his fellow traveler on the path God lays out… yet I’m content to be single for now. Faithfully waiting, growing closer to my heavenly Father, knowing that when the time is right, He will send me love… love that will be all the sweeter for the wait.


He Knows Better Than I

Despite being homeschooled, I do actually have some friends in my age range. So naturally, I know a few other graduates of the class of ‘09. Of course, we’ve all been finishing school and getting ready for life, and where we’re going next is a common conversation topic.

A couple months ago, I was talking to an unsaved friend of mine about it. She told me her entire life plan… where she’d go to college, what she’d study, how her career would go, when she would marry, when she would have kids, how many she would have, when she would retire… she had it all figured out. At the time, I was almost jealous of how sure she was of the future. I imagined that it must be infinitely comforting to know where you’re going.

When I had that conversation, I was terrified of the future. In fact, I was terrified of life. I was afraid to stay where I was because I didn’t want to spend my whole life there, yet I was afraid to move forward because I had no idea where to go next. I was paralyzed. That was why the confidence my friend had impressed me so much: she knew where to go. I was entering a crucial stage of my life, a time when I would decide what sort of woman to become. I already knew what I wanted, though. I wanted to be a young woman with a vision.

I’d spent my life in a state of uncertainty. It never really mattered what I wanted to do: mom told me what I needed to do, and I did it dutifully. Whenever I had to make a choice, I’d agonize over it, even if it was something as simple as which shirt to buy. So what I wanted was a sense of purpose, a reason to live, and a goal to shape my life around. I was tired of doing the bare minimum, I wanted to stand up and make a difference. Of course, before I could do any of that, I had to decide how. Great, back to that cursed decision making.

But over the past few months, I’ve been learning a beautiful lesson. The Savior has been teaching me that I don’t need to make that choice. He knows me, He designed me, He has a plan for me. What right do I have to say how I want my life to go? If it weren’t for Him, I wouldn’t even be alive, much less have any ability to do anything. Why should I agonize over what to do with my life when He has a perfect plan already in place? I’ve realized that His plan is so much better than anything I could ever dream of, and, with that realization, not only have I found my vision, but I’ve discovered that merely having a vision is not enough.

I’ve stopped longing for a vision, because I have one. That vision is to give myself fully to the service of the King of Kings. Now the next step is surrender. Giving up my feeble grasp at control and letting God truly rule in my life is anything but easy, but through His grace and with His strength, I know I can live fully for my Lord. Now, as I look back on that conversation with my friend, I wonder how she could be so secure, how she could have any sense of hope when she was relying completely on herself, and I thank God that I no longer have to bear that great burden. Yes, at times I still worry about my future. I honestly have no idea what to expect. But even when I’m the least certain, I find hope, joy, and peace in the knowledge that He is in control, come what may. His ways are so much higher, and He knows better than I.