Do you like to feel in control of your life? Do you always plan everything, keep a
to-do list, know where your career or education is heading, and have goals written down? Have you mapped out your hopes and dreams and are working on them right now?
If the answer is no, then no pressure!
We are sometimes asked to think of where we would like to be in five or ten years’ time (especially at job interviews!). We may want to achieve particular milestones by a certain age, have aspirations to travel to wonderful destinations, or ask God to help us obtain something we earnestly desire.
While it is good to aim for these things, in reality we do not know what God has in mind for us. We are not really in control at all. Something may happen which changes our plans, causes a delay, or points us in an entirely new or different direction. This realisation may be unsettling for many of us. So how do we cope? What are we supposed to do? Should we not make goals or plan for anything?
I have made some goals in my life and while a few have worked out, most changed over time or were completely forgotten. Sometimes my priorities shifted without really understanding why until much later. Life is usually a mixture of these scenarios because we never really know how it will turn out and what God’s will is – at least not in the beginning.
A few years ago I came across something that really helped me loosen my struggles. The writings of Fr Dolindo Ruotolo simultaneously challenged and helped me to free my mind from worrying about the future. Fr Dolindo was a Roman Catholic priest and an advocate of surrendering everything to God – he received direct guidance from Christ about this. His writings were translated from Italian to English. It is worth finding out more about this humble Servant of God. Additional resources are provided at the end of this post.
So what does it mean to surrender? The dictionary tells us that it is to yield power, control, or possession of something; to give up completely; to give (oneself) up into the power of another; to give (oneself) over to something (Merriam-Webster dictionary). That sounds like scary stuff to most of us, doesn’t it? It conjures up images of being in prison, war, or living under totalitarian regimes. We may acquiesce when it comes to chocolate, a warm bath, or a comfy bed – it is easy to let go and surrender to these – but when things get hard we dig in and want to feel that we have our hands on the controls of our life.
In the Bible, surrendering means to submit yourself to God, be transformed, humble yourself before the Lord, trust Him with all of your heart, and so on.
How do we do this when we are so engrossed with personal, work, relationship, health, and other issues? How do we just let it all go? It’s hard! We just push on, don’t we? We ‘get on with it’, or distract ourselves with entertainment, technology, sport, or holidays. We ride the wave until things sort themselves out. We rationalise and reason with ourselves: “I can cope with this. I don’t need to surrender. I can toughen up and do this myself.” We forget God completely or only turn to Him when we have exhausted all of our efforts. We can treat God as if He is in a place called ‘the last resort’.
In truth, we are scared to surrender to God because we are afraid of what He may want of us. What if He asks us to abandon all we have, leave everything and everyone, and become a missionary overseas? What if He wants us to live in poverty as a sacrifice, for His sake? What if He falls silent and the answer seems to be… well, nothing? What if we ‘waste’ our years waiting? What if He sends us something we cannot bear? What if He wants us to suffer and become a martyr or face some other challenge?
But you see, these ‘what if’s’ miss an important fact: GOD IS GOOD. By getting to know Who He is, we can more easily surrender to His goodness. God wants to show us how His power, strength, love, and grace can transform our lives. When we get out of our way and put Him first, we realise that He would never hurt us. Why would He? He made us. He knows us. He wants us to trust Him because He has the full perspective on our life. He is in the box seat. He is the pilot. He is above and across all situations, and will provide what is best for us. He is the ultimate parent, carer, friend, and love.
When I was searching for a surrender-themed picture for this post I found many with people’s arms outstretched to the sky, people looking up blissfully, people standing on mountains, or people meditating. They were nice but did not grab me. When I came across the picture of the cutie pie above, I thought ‘yes, this is it!’. This little child says ‘surrender’ to me. I like the way he is laughing and carefree while he looks like he could be holding the Bible. I think that’s the way God wants us to be – to remember His promises, chill out, ask Him for what we need, then kick back and laugh together because we know that He has our back.
Babies and children know how to surrender to the love of their parents. When they need nourishment, comfort, cuddles, or patching up a scrape or wounded ego, they fly into the arms of mummy or daddy. They intrinsically trust that their parents will look after them. They know that their needs will be met; they arise, laugh it off, and go on with their life. They somehow know that all will be well because no matter what, life is a beautiful adventure and God made it that way just for them. Our aim is to do this with the One who is mightier than us, and surrender with the joyful abandon of a child.
God is our daddy and wants us to be like the child in the picture above. We know that as we grow up and become adults some issues in life are not that easy to shake off. Serious stuff happens and crushes our hearts. The good news is that our Father will always be there for us if we take a few moments to:
Sit down with Him in a quiet place;
Understand that He is love and wants the best for you;
Remember how He cared for you and others in the past;
Reach out to Him – talk about your pains, hopes, and life situations;
Enter into the silence of your heart and mind;
Nourish your soul with His words and promises;
Decide that surrendering means trusting in His infinite wisdom;
Erase all thoughts of doubt about His power;
Repent from past sins, receive His forgiveness, and repeat:
Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you,
take care of everything!
Jesus, You take over