I started a new Bible study during our first weeks back in Africa. It's called "Stronger; Finding Hope in Fragile Places." I chose it because I have felt that my heart is fragile and life is fragile and the country of South Sudan is a fragile place. Yet I know that in the midst of the fragility, my God is Stronger and my God can accomplish over and above what I could ever dream or imagine.
This morning I want to share about what God is teaching me regarding surrender. This topic seems to keep coming up in recent months. Last Sunday the pastor of the church we attend here in Nairobi, Kenya shared a great sermon about laying down our own agendas and surrendering to whatever the Lord has for us. Again, yesterday morning, many of the songs in worship centered on the theme of surrender. And now this morning, minutes after hugging my husband goodbye and sending him on a plane to South Sudan, the theme in my devotions is: Surrender.
The author of my new Bible Study, Angela Thomas, says, "Receiving God's strength means we choose to surrender to:
- His wisdom
- His timing
- His greater purpose
- His mystery.
We have to trust Him to surrender to Him."
I honestly feel like I have been doing this over the last year as Eli and I have prayed and asked the Lord to show us what is next for us. I do indeed trust in His wisdom, His timing, and His greater purpose. But what is His mystery? I found myself cringing at this word.
I am realizing that surrendering to His mystery means that even if I don't know what the details or specifics are, I still surrender. I can't understand His plan yet. But I can still trust Him and surrender completely to Him and whatever He has for us.
I was deeply encouraged by a quote by Jeff Bridges from his book, Trusting God , "Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us."
Again from Angela Thomas, "Surrendering means that we trust:
- God's sovereignty and timing for our lives
- God's method of giving us what we need
- God's provision from the fullness of His love
- God's heart being good and unchanging "
As I type my husband is about to board a plane to Juba, South Sudan. Lord willing, tomorrow he will arrive in Melut, our home that we've been away from for 13 months. As I prayed with him before he left this morning, I couldn't help but think that our plan only a few weeks ago was that our whole family would be flying back into Melut around this time. This isn't what I had in mind but the Lord is tenderly reminding me again to surrender.
"If we are going to mature as Christ followers, then we must undertake this work of surrender --- learning to give up how we thought it had to be, trusting the Lord God Almighty who gave us breath - so that every obstacle is removed and we are able to receive His promised strength."
I won't lie to you. Everything in me is wishing all five of us were getting on that plane right now. Everything in me wants to move forward with the ideas Eli and I had after months of praying and asking the Lord for guidance. But the Lord is calling me to surrender.
Surrender to His wisdom.
Surrender to His timing.
Surrender to His greater purpose.
Surrender to His mystery.