Job was a man of integrity, faultless and blameless. And yet, God allowed him to suffer incredible losses. He lost his servants and his livestock. He lost all of his possessions and his children. He lost his health.
And Job’s response?
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1:20-21
Job fell to his knees. He worshiped.
He surrendered to the journey, surrendered to God’s way instead of His own.
God called Jonah to take His message to the people of Nineveh. But Jonah chose to go the opposite direction, to run from God.
As he went down to Joppa and jumped on a ship, God sent a violent storm. Jonah knew he was the cause of the storm, and he asked the others on the ship to throw him overboard.
God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah. As he sat in the belly of the whale, he contemplated what he had done. After three days, the fish spit him out on dry ground.
Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”
This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. Jonah 3:1-3
This time Jonah obeyed God. He didn’t run, didn’t go the opposite direction.
He surrendered, yielding his will to God’s.
Mary was a teenager, engaged to marry Joseph. She was planning out her life, her future. She was looking forward to getting married, starting a family.
But God interrupted.
He sent an angel to speak to Mary, telling her she was chosen and highly favored. She had been chosen to carry the Messiah, the Savior of the world. It required a complete upheaval of her life and her plans.
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. Luke 1:38
She accepted God’s interruptions, His plans over her own.
Mary surrendered to God.
Jesus. Messiah. God Incarnate. Wonderful, Counselor. Immanuel, God with us.
Jesus grew into the ministry the Father planned for Him. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind. He restored the broken, forgave the guilty. He fed the hungry and gave water to the thirsty.
He turned the religious establishment upside down, challenging the traditions. He started a revolution.
But then, after the last supper, Jesus slipped away to pray. He knew what God was calling Him to, to surrender His life for our sins.
And He was anguished.
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39
There he bowed before the Father, praying, begging God to take away this assignment.
And yet, He surrendered. He chose God’s way over His own. He chose the pain of the cross, the rejection of the Father, so He could be the sacrifice for our sins.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey it’s the importance of surrender. It’s the importance of letting go of my plans, of my hopes, and trusting God’s plan, His purposes. It’s in surrender that God has the power to step in and take control, to make circumstances work for our good and His glory.
I’m so glad Mary surrendered her plans, her future. I’m so glad she accepted the assignment from God, to carry the stigma and rejection of becoming an unwed pregnant teen. I’m so glad she chose to give birth to my Savior in the loneliness of that stable. I’m so glad she chose to raise the Son of God, to watch Him nailed to that cross for my sins.
And you. What are you facing today? Where are you striving against God? Are you fighting the pain and rejection of divorce? Are you facing the grief of a loved one lost too soon? Are you facing the fear of an uncertain financial situation? Are you caught in the grips of an addiction to pornography or drugs or alcohol?
Surrender. Quit fighting. Tell God it’s His, that you don’t want to carry the burden any more. Tell Him that even though this journey isn’t the one you wanted, you are willing to take it as long as He uses your pain to help others. Tell Him you are willing to travel this road as long as He does an amazing work in you so He can do an amazing work through you.
Surrender. It’s the first step of the rest of the amazing life He has planned for you.
And it will make for the best Christmas ever…a Christmas filled with the perfect peace of the Savior who loves you more than you could ever imagine.
Merry Christmas, my friends!