It’s nearly over.
I’ve been thinking about what I want to say about 2020 that could be encouraging, and my thoughts always turn to a word that I chose to focus on for 12 months.
This word is not always an easy one to embrace. We want to be in charge. We want to take control of our lives and plow ahead—planning, preparing, casting vision.
While those things are not bad, the truth is, what we see is often short-sighted. Self-focused.
“Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but the Lord’s plan will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21
Surrender has not come without a price. Giving up my desires, my hopes, my dreams to embrace what God has purposed for me has been a struggle. The spiritual battle of letting go often leaves scars. Not scars that are visible, but deep down inside where no one sees but my Creator. Letting go of the picture that I thought was my life, I recognize that this tapestry of moments is only beautiful when I see it from heaven’s perspective. The twisted threads of 2020 are creating something that only eternity will reveal.
Lord, Help me live with my eyes wide open. I don’t want to miss what you have for me.
I surrendered my marriage. A God-honoring marriage takes two people who are surrendered to Him and committed to each other. My relationship with my husband can go only two directions. We will get even better as we grow older together or we will grow apart. I choose the better way. When CoVid19 pressed us into spending more time together at home, I knew that there would be days that challenged us, but overall we have a deeper appreciation for each other and and are so thankful that we still enjoy each other’s company after 39 years of marriage.
I surrendered my children–again and again. I said before they were even born that they were His, and that I would do my best (imperfectly) to raise them in a way that honors Him. Freeing them from my own preferences and trusting God to work out His perfect will for them, I found that parenting adult children is harder than raising toddlers. I love them fiercely. I want a loving, balanced relationship with them, and so, I surrender. Placing them in God’s hands, I will choose this act of worship to God time and again, as I trust Him with the picture of what I thought a family should look like.
I surrendered my grandchildren. Social distancing took a toll on my heart. Some moved farther away, and though we still visit them, it is not the same. Family gatherings changed. My aching heart longed for time with every single one of them. Surrendering the perfect moments I had preconceived in my heart meant that I had to let go of my emotions, offering them up to my Heavenly Father in an attitude of “Nevertheless, I will worship You.”
I surrendered my parents. Both in their 80’s and health failing, I know that time with them is precious. While we are careful, we chose to not stay separated out of fear. We are cautious, but because they have been able to remain in their home instead of full-time care, we have spent more time together over the last two years than ever before. I have no regrets, only prayers for God’s mercy on them, whatever that looks like from His perspective.
I surrendered my worship. While as a church we are meeting in person now, everything has changed. Online worship was and still is a lifeline for so many. Grateful for technology, it is still not the same. When we began gathering together as a body of believers again, I gained a new appreciation for my church family. Some are still absent and I am reminded all over again that we really do need each other. The Lord knew that, and He established it for His good purpose.
Don’t think this is about me, or about what I “gave up”. It is so much more than that. When I say surrender, I am confessing that these are areas of my life that I tend to want control over–and God, in His mercy, has reminded me that He is in control—and because He is Sovereign, I can trust Him with all of those things that I have surrendered.
Surrender is not a 12-month journey. It is a lifetime of letting go. God doesn’t just want you to give Him your Sundays or your weekends, or your year. He wants YOU. He wants all of you. Every year, month, day and second belong to Him. Surrender is a journey–it takes a consistent walk in His direction. Following God is a journey that involves commitment. It takes preparation. Focus. Stamina. The good news is, when we surrender to His plan, He gives us everything we need for the journey. His promise that He would never leave us or forsake us is recognized when we realize that He has given us a gift: His Holy Spirit. Not some mystical power, but His power in us, enabling us to live out this life that He has given us.
My prayer for 2021?
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13