There is Freedom in Surrender

But from eternity to eternity the LORD’s faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and His righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep His covenant, who remember to observe His precepts. Psalm 103:17-18

My church is nearing the end of a 21-day church-wide fast.  I have fasted with close friends before, but I’ve never fasted with a large group of people.  Our pastor said at the beginning of the fast that we would all be changed by the end of it.  He was certainly right about that.

On the first day of the fast, we were each given a sheet of paper that contained a list of prayer topics and verses for each day of the fast, and throughout, we have been provided with frequent encouragement via text as well.  This has proven to be very beneficial, as we are covering many needs for ourselves and our church family, as well as our communities, our country, and the rest of the world.  I will be writing about some of the things the Lord has shown me during this fast, but today I want to share about the very first thing that He began speaking about.

Submission.

The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines submission this way:

1. The act of submitting; the act of yielding to power or authority; surrender of the person and power to the control or government of another.

2. Acknowledgment of inferiority or dependence; humble or suppliant behavior.

3. Acknowledgment of a fault; confession or error.

4. Obedience; compliance with the commands or laws of a superior.

5.Resignation; a yielding of one’s will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring.

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9

We are to submit to God, to the government, to teachers, to supervisors…basically to anyone who is in authority over us. The Bible talks about wives submitting to their husbands, and children to their parents.  I am only writing today about submission to God.  Total, complete surrender.

What does submission look like to me?  What should it look like?

To me, it looks like writing when I don’t necessarily feel like writing.

It looks like fasting, when I’d much rather go get a plate of food, or even a little snack, right now, to satisfy my growling stomach.

It looks like continuing to pray when I don’t see any results, especially when the prayers include the salvation of loved ones.  God’s heart is for all to come to the knowledge of Him.

It’s not saying the first thing that comes to mind when someone has either wronged me or I have perceived a wrong.

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

It looks like speaking to a person I barely know because He has prompted me to do so, taking me out of my comfort zone.

It’s setting aside my plans for the future, which include staying in my current home, if the Lord is calling me to move.

It’s being content in whatever circumstance I’m in, and not constantly whining to the Lord about my desire to get out of it.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11

It’s allowing the Lord to be my wedding planner, as He moves things around in His way and in His time, instead of mine. Let me explain.  One day, when I was talking with the Lord (okay, maybe it was more like complaining), asking when the time will be right for my beloved and I to get married, He clearly spoke to my heart that He is my wedding planner.

Sometimes submission comes easily, and sometimes it’s a struggle.

I’m reminded of a pastor I heard once who was speaking on the topic of obedience, and, as he was wont to drive fast, said that his right foot was the last part of his body to get saved.  I confess that I laughed right along with everyone else, while at the same time sympathizing with him.  See, I have secretly believed that I was meant to be a race car driver.  😊

Thankfully, if we belong to the Lord and have surrendered our lives to Him, we don’t have to struggle with this alone.  We have help with submission and everything else we struggle with.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17

Those promptings to help us make good decisions, that’s Him.  The strength to not eat while fasting, or the ability to not retaliate when someone wrongs us, or the courage to do what seems impossible – that’s Him.

And the best part is – when we submit and obey those promptings of the Holy Spirit, the Lord says that He will reveal Himself to us! I don’t know about you, but that is my number one desire.  Jesus (Yeshua) said:

The one who has  My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him. John 14:21

The Lord has given me the word Freedom for this new year.  I’ll write about that another time, as the Lord continues to speak to me about it, but part of His revealing process was to continually bring to mind a song from many, many years ago that I hadn’t thought of in a very long time.  The song was made popular by Debby Boone, and is entitled Surrender.  You can listen to it here.  The entire song is beautiful, but the part that has been most touching to me is the chorus:

For the freedom I seek is the word that You speak

Running deep as a song of my soul

To be totally sure, and totally Yours, and totally surrendered

The Lord’s message to me this week:  There is freedom in surrender.

I pray that there is nothing I haven’t submitted to Him.  What about you?  If there’s anything you haven’t surrendered, will you pray this with me? The Lord can do far more with whatever we’re holding onto than we can.

Lord, if we are holding anything back, we repent, and surrender everything to You now. Help us to submit even when it is difficult or painful. We thank You for forgiveness, and ask for the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives to help us obey in everything.

All the LORD’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees. Psalm 25:10

Here’s something else I wrote about Freedom.  Check it out!

Whatever He Says, Do It

I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel. Psalm 32:8

I was recently given the opportunity to write something in which I mentioned some of the ways that we can hear God speaking. Some of the ways we can hear Him include Bible verses, songs on the radio, a still small voice within, conversations with friends, a stirring in your spirit when you read or hear something, and dreams and visions. The Lord will give confirmations as well when they are needed.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

Another way the Lord speaks is that an idea will come to mind, and it will be the very last thing you would ever choose for yourself, because it is costly.  Not necessarily monetarily, although that is certainly a possibility, but costly with regards to our lifestyles and comfort levels.

One biblical example is the prophet Hosea.  Hosea was a righteous man, and he was commanded by the Lord to marry a promiscuous woman.  The Lord used that marriage to illustrate His love for Israel.  Though Israel wandered and would get entangled in the pagan worship around her, God loved her and continually sought to bring her back to Him. As I read the story of Hosea and Gomer, I find it interesting that nowhere does it say that Hosea questioned God, questioned His motives, or had second thoughts about obeying.  He obeyed, and the Lord was able to use that obedience to both warn Israel and give her hope.

Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  Luke 11:28

It reminds me of a time when I was asked to take in a young woman who was going through a difficult time finding a place to live.  The person making the request knew her well, and spoke very highly of her, mentioning that the young woman, like me, was a follower of Yeshua (Jesus).

I said that I didn’t think so, but that I would pray about it.  I didn’t pray about it very much, though, not like I should have.  See, I had already experienced a roommate situation years before that began well but ended badly, and the last thing I wanted was to repeat the experience.

In addition to this, between family members and all of the pets, we already had a full house, and this full house needed repairs. So yes, I prayed, but only halfheartedly, and I really wasn’t listening for God’s answer.

One night, a few weeks later, I was getting ready to feed our pets, and realized that we were completely out of cat food.  It had been a long, busy day, and I was tired.  For this reason, my daughter and I drove to a higher priced store just a few blocks from our home instead of driving to the less expensive store farther away where we normally purchased pet food.

My daughter offered to go inside and purchase the cat food while I stayed in the car.  I gratefully accepted her offer, and within minutes, she returned to the car, with a bag of cat food in hand.

As we pulled out of the parking space, we saw something dark moving on the ground several yards ahead of us, moving between the parked vehicles at the end of the parking lot.  As we got closer, we saw that it was a kitten limping on three legs.  The fourth leg was missing.  Our hearts melted.

My daughter scooped some of the cat food into her hand and headed toward the kitten.  As she put the food down on the ground, several other kittens came running toward the food.

As I watched this, the Lord clearly spoke to my heart.

“You’re concerned about the kitten, and that’s a good thing.  How much more should you be concerned about My child?”

Ouch, that hurt!  Teary eyed, I drove home knowing that we were soon going to be sharing our home with this young woman.

I wish I could say that by now I have learned that what the Lord does in my life is always for my good, and that I bend obediently to His will, but there are times when I still question what He could possibly be thinking.  During those times, He calls me – calls us – to walk by faith and not by sight.  Obedience always brings blessings.  It may not be immediate, or even apparent until years later, but this is a truth clearly stated in the Word of God.  In this case, it was immediate, and the blessing far exceeded my “sacrifice.”

When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.  Luke 5:4-7

I am now facing another challenge, which I will write about another time.  It is another “opportunity to excel,” as a previous supervisor of mine was fond of saying whenever someone in the office was faced with a difficult task.

Have you experienced something similar?  Have you been feeling like the Lord has been leading you (okay, sometimes it feels more like pushing) into a place where you don’t feel comfortable, and don’t particularly want to go?  Trust God.  Seek Him.  Ask Him for confirmation.  Then, whatever He says, do it.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone water pots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. John 2:1-11

What a Difference a Day Makes

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

One night awhile back, I had gone to bed hot and irritated.  I live in Florida, and our air conditioning had been having issues for weeks.  After several service calls, the issue had still not been resolved.

There is a balcony off of my second floor bedroom, and tall palm trees in my backyard block the view of the neighbors.  As I prepared for bed, I opened the balcony door, hoping for a breeze to help the ceiling fan cool me.

For the first time in weeks, I slept.  No outside noises woke me during the night, and the Lord sent a breeze to cool me.  I woke well ahead of the alarm I had set.  In the darkness, I contemplated going back to sleep, but instead decided to just have a time of quiet reflection.

I watched as the darkness gave way to light, and watched the breeze blow gently through the palm leaves.  There were still no outside noises – no slamming doors, no vehicles starting, no barking dogs, no voices shouting.  It was peaceful.  It was perfection.

So the LORD said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 2 Kings 19:11-12

It took me back to my younger days, and my very first apartment.  Money was very tight – so tight that I often ate what I called poor man’s pizza, which was nothing more than toast with spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese.  To save money, I often slept with the windows open.  I lived on the third floor, and palm trees blocked the view of the neighboring apartment buildings and the shopping center across the street.

I was a new believer in Yeshua (Jesus), and I greeted every morning with the joyful expectation of spending time with Him.  I devoured the Word of God.  All of my free time was spent studying, praying, and listening to songs about Him.  He filled my life.  He filled me.

Seasons come and go.  Life gets busy, and sometimes the important things are relegated to a lower place in our lives.  It isn’t intentional, and sometimes isn’t even apparent until we have a nostalgic moment, and then we long for the simpler times.  We quiet ourselves, and the Lord whispers that if we slow down and spend time with Him, today can be that way, too.

He reminds us that with all of the distractions of this life, He is peace.  He is hope.  He is there.

What a difference a day makes.

Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. Lamentations 3:22-24