Tuesday, May 24, 2016

3 Steps to Surrender to God

I know you’ve heard it: “Christian-ese.” The terms and jargon that are familiar to those of us who living within circles of faith.  However, when speaking to someone new in the faith or outside of our faith, some our language doesn’t mean much to them.  

For example, when I was beginning my walk with Christ, I would sometimes share my heart with a woman who gave consistent advice.  “Just give it to God,” she’d say. 

At one point I had to ask myself:  what does that mean? What does it mean to give something to God? 

How can I give something - especially a problem - to a God that I can’t see, I can’t hear, I don’t understand what he’s up to… what does it look like to give something to God?  

Through the years I’ve learned that it looks like is surrender. Surrender is bowing our knee and coming under the Lord’s authority and leadership to guide us through a particular problem or  situation. Eventually we hope to stay surrendered to God through every aspect of life.

I’ll say with caution that I have figured out surrender to some degree. I’m not perfect at it. It’s not something I do extremely well all the time, but I do have more of an understanding of what it looks like than I did in those early days.

How to Surrender

I’d like to share with you three very simple steps I’ve learned to use to surrender, to “let go and let God,” or to “give it to God.”  

1.  Understand why we should.  

Why should we surrender? Because Jesus asks us to. He wants to bear the burden for us. He desires to help us carry the Load. 

In the Bible, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you… for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (See Matthew 11:29) Many of us today don’t understand what a yoke is.  It’s an instrument used by those moving heavy loads before machinery was available. A yoke was the device that connected one large animal to another so that they could pull the heavy load in tandem, in partnership together. 

Jesus asked us to take His yoke upon us. That means He is already wearing a proverbial yoke, asking us to come and take on the other side of that yoke with Him to partner with Him and take on life in tandem with Him. 

There are some beautiful things that happen when we take on His yoke. First, He does all the heavy lifting. He bears all the burden and we’re just coming alongside Him for the ride. 

The other wonderful thing is that He leads us. When we are connected to Him by a yoke, He’s guiding and directing us. So if we need to turn to the right, He’s prompting us to the right. If we need to to go to the left, He’s prompting us to go left. When we’re yoked together with Him, we have no choice but to follow Him. If we need to go straight, it’s Jesus, Himself that’s going to help us face that trial head on and get through it.  

2.  Pray.  

All of us have a problem that we’re dealing with right now. It might be large or small problem, but we all have at least one issue that we struggle with. Our natural tendency is to try to work through it in our own strength. We believe we’re wise enough, clever enough, or that we’ve got enough friends, the good doctor, or something in our own strength that will see us through the trial. 

Because we think we have things handled, we don’t seek the Lord at all. We need to remember to first - not last, but first - seek the Lord, pray, and honestly tell the Lord what we’re feeling.

Prayer is an aspect of relationship building. Even though Jesus knows everything - what we had for breakfast, what we’re thinking and feeling right now - He still wants to hear it from us. He’s a loving Father who desires relationship with His children and He wants to hear our heart. 

If you’re a parent and have a child who had a date over the weekend with a group of friends, you know what their plans were, what they were wearing, who they were with, and what time time they got home. But you still want to see the excitement in your daughter’s eyes.  You want to hear the tone of her voice. That’s exactly how it is with the Lord. He knows all about our situation, but He still wants to hear from us because He loves us and desires relationship with us.  We can cry out to Him saying, “I don’t have the slightest idea what to do right now. Will you help me?” or “I have an idea of what to do but I’m not sure if it’s right? Will you reveal to me what it is that we should do together?” The Lord will hear and honor that prayer.

3.  Wait. 

If your situation allows for some time to step back, breathe, to “Be still and know that He is God,” that is what we do next. We allow the Lord to move, to work through His people, to open doors or to calm hearts, or to fix situations before we move into them. 

Consider the level of emotion that rises up when trouble comes,, we can choose to either react and do things from our emotional state (which might be throwing extra fuel on the fire and keeping things agitated), or  we can step back and let things calm and come to a settled state before moving as the Lord directs. That’s the beauty of waiting. During that time of waiting, we’re allowing the Lord to do what only He can do. We’ve asked the Lord for help and now we’re giving Him time to do just that. 

Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of waiting and have a situation that requires us to act right now. Recently our main sewer line backed up and we had to keep the ball rolling. There was no waiting or standing still. We knew we had a problem, we prayed on the fly and asked the Lord many times, “What do we do here?” In that process, even though it was hurried and stepped up, God provided a friend who recommended another friend with expertise. We were able to make the right decisions and receive trusted, Godly counsel. We worked with contractors who we had no doubt were doing the right thing. It was wonderful to watch the Lord work through it. At the end of the situation - not necessarily during it - that’s when we could step back, breathe and say, “Wow, Lord, You did a mighty work and we’re grateful for that!” 

I pray these steps bless you today, ministers to your heart and brings peace. With this simple understanding, you can surrender to the Lord and lay your problems and worries at His feet. 

I also pray it that we’ll choose our words carefully when we speak with people who are new to our outside the faith. We can still offer proven, Godly counsel to our friends, neighbors and co-workers them without using terminology that they may not understand.  It can help us all to navigate problems God’s way, relying on His strength and not our own. 

View this message on video:

This video originally appeared on Facebook LIVE on April 20, 2016.
It has been edited for the text version on this blog, above. 

Your Turn:

How would you describe ways to surrender to God? What's worked best for you in your faith walk?

Share a time when it was difficult to surrender. Did you give in to God? How did you benefit after taking on His yoke? 

Leave your comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word,

Psalm 119:28