I think it’s safe to say that we all know of an area in our lives that God is calling us to surrender to Him. And we all believe surrender is worth it. At least, we want to believe that. But still, we struggle. Surrender requires faith, and faith has to be exercised to grow. And so when the extra strain is placed on our faith, we can often falter, wrestle, and be tempted to collapse under the pressure.
And on top of the pressure we feel from the feeling of losing control, the fear of the unknown, and the struggle of wrestling with what we really believe about God’s nature and character is the horrible feeling of isolation and loneliness.
I have a feeling you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I love mysteries!
And I hate mysteries.
And if I had to guess, I’d venture to say you’re in the same boat with me.
Allow me to explain.
My favorite genre of fiction happens to be suspense/mystery. I love them. Mysteries are a perfect escape from reality for me. I like not knowing what's going to happen next, and I love trying to figure out what happens next anyway, and of course, trying to guess "whodunit." Maybe reading isn’t your thing – but perhaps crime dramas are a go-to for you. I think media trends to show that we, the people, love mysteries.
In real life, however, I have a much harder time getting excited about not knowing what's around the bend. It's far too easy for me to find myself anxious, and often fearful, about anything from what's going to happen when I call this person, to what's going to happen over the course of the year – or beyond. When I don't have a grasp on what to expect or what's going to happen, it doesn't matter how big or small the situation is, I just plain don't like it.
As you probably know, I’m a biblical counselor and for the past 7 years have done crisis counseling and discipleship with women who struggle with addiction and other life-dominating problems. Over the course of time, I’ve noticed some common responses when someone first expresses a desire to give their lives to Christ, and I’d like to take some time to explore some of the common things that hold us back from finding the freedom and salvation we all want.
If you’ve already surrendered your life to Christ, I hope this article will serve as an encouraging reminder to trust God and remember what He’s done for you. And if you haven’t yet come to that point of surrender, I hope this article will challenge you to take that step of faith and find the peace that comes in trusting God with every aspect of your life.
Now, back to the topic at hand:
When I say surrender, what jumps to mind?
Most of us are familiar with the story of how God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses, the burning bush, plagues, splitting the sea. There's a lot there. A lot to learn. And as I was recently reading in Exodus 8, something jumped out at me. It was following the curse of the frogs:
Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”
Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”
“Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.
But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
(Exodus 8:8-10a, 15)
One of those sins that Christians tend to address as "minor," "little," and "unimportant," fear is often deemed unnecessary to address. We don't see it as a big deal, so we just ignore it, hoping it’ll go away. Unfortunately, though, as time goes on, fear not only doesn’t disappear – it actually grows. Before too long, the “little” sin is now the BIG sin that has begun to push us around and is grasping for control over every part of our lives.
I think part of the struggle we have to take fear seriously starts with the fact that fear in and of itself may not be a problem. Fear is a God-given emotion. The danger is found in what we’re fearing and how we respond to that fear.
I am so thankful that God uses people
Our God is a very personal God. He is a relational God. He lives in community, and He designed us to need that community, as well – starting with the fellowship we have through a relationship with Him. But it doesn’t end there – He also created us to need other people. Other Christians. Fellowship and relationships through the local church. Because God uses people.
We need encouragement. We need help. We need hope.
When we’re overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, and broken, we are tempted to isolate. But it’s in those broken moments that we most need each other. We benefit the most from our relationships when it’s the hardest – when we’re most tempted to give up, close up, or shut down. When we’re vulnerable. When we’re scared. When we’re desperate.
The pattern in scripture is that when people (or even the nation of Israel) were desperate, they cried out to God. And God sent a man. God sent a woman. God sent a person. And He used that person to help, encourage, and bring about deliverance, both personally and corporately.
When Adam was alone and needed a helper,
God created Eve.
WHEN DAVID WAS RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE,
GOD GAVE HIM JONATHAN.
When Israel cried out for deliverance in Egypt,
God sent Moses.
On the surface, we all know this. But it’s what’s lurking below the surface that’s the most dangerous. It’s those thoughts we don’t even realize we’re thinking. The things we don’t know we’re telling ourselves. The initial fears and doubts that run through our minds so fast that we’ve emotionally and physically reacted before we even realized what was happening.
The more I consider the power of fear in my life and in the lives of those I’ve worked with over the years, the more convinced I am that fear is the single most underestimated tool in the Enemy’s arsenal. I believe that’s why, in Revelation 21:8, the first quality noted of those thrown into the Lake of Fire are the fearful (http://biblehub.com/greek/1169.htm).
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
The same One who spoke with Abraham as a friend.
The same One who was with the three Hebrew children in the fire.
The same One who wrestled Jacob, who finally conquered him.
He is our defender. He does great and mighty things. He destroys armies. He stops people
in their tracks. He makes all things work together for our good.
Why, then, do we give in to fear?
Fear, my dad once said, reveals that we are walking by sight.
In a word: passionate.
About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even
iced skinny soy mochas.