Go Deep, Surrender, and Finish Strong

The above words have initiated several conversations over the years. The conversation usually begins with the recitation of them, followed by, “What does that mean?”. It is easy to say what it means to me; trusting in God, surrendering my plan, and focusing on him to see me through. While right, as I studied more, I realized that there is more to it.

Who do you turn to first when trials come? God, others, or even self? We all go through trials, sufferings, or circumstances that challenge us beyond measure. As Christians, it’s in these times that we tend to seek the Lord more. We want insight into what the Lord is doing, but do we trust him?

Did you know that trust is five-dimensional? I didn’t until I came across Psalm 37 and the supporting text shared. It said that,

Trust is:

  1. The renouncing of irritability and envy.
  2. Delighting in the Lord
  3. Submitting to the Lord
  4. Practicing patience in hope
  5. Avoiding anger

Dig Deep

If we’re going to go deep, we have to dig deep. Digging deep is more than reading God’s Word during difficult times, but it’s also about self-reflection. Our response to whatever we are going through matters. Sometimes, the things we think are God turning his back on us or punishing us; He is using to grow our faith and our character. Our emotions indeed get the best of us. We are human after all, but instead of focusing on others, it’s time to get real and ask ourselves the hard questions.

  • Am I being prideful, envious, selfish, judgemental, or hypocritical?
  • Am I unkind in my speech to or about others? How do I treat others?
  • Why does this irritate me?
  • Why am I angry?
  • Am I being fearful?
  • Do I believe God is all-powerful?
  • Do I believe God is with me and will see me through?

How we answer these questions reveals the condition of our hearts. Are we ready to receive what the Father wants to say to us?

Surrender

But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet.

Hebrews 10:12-13

Some may relate surrender to giving up all hope. Some see it as a relinquishment of personal rights. Most relate surrender to weakness, and nobody wants that! We want to rally the troops and fight to defend our opinions, our ways, our lives. We see in the above verse that God patiently waits until we are humbled. What does humbled mean? It realizes that there is a better way than envy, pride, anger, hypocrisy, addiction, unbelief, and seeks help. That is a significant strength! When we humble our hearts to His ways, he reveals the answers and gives the power needed to either move forward or to stand in His truth. (Hebrews 12:10-11). It’s in these times that we begin to understand and experience His mercy and grace.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

Many say the absence of chaos brings peace; however, with Christ, peace is found within and settles on the heart and mind. This peace causes us to stand firm as we endure the trials and persecutions before us.

Finish Strong

Sometimes we are called to bow our heads and endure the storm. It doesn’t seem right or fair at all; but, justice belongs in the hands of the Father and not our own. We can combat the lies, rumors, and hurt around us, but does that resolve anything? If we are honest with ourselves, it typically does more harm than good.

Standing firm under persecution is proof of a changed heart. It is proof that we have a strength that goes beyond our human capacity and a God-given determination to stand up under all those insults, hurts, lies, losses, and ruins because our Saviour is worth it.

– Love God Greatly

We learn in Romans 12 three things that we can focus on when we encounter trials.

  1. We can rejoice in the hope given
  2. Be patient in tribulation
  3. Be constant in prayer

In all things, God wants our hearts. He desires to shape and mold them to reflect His plan and purpose, not our own. The Lord can’t grow our faith or develop our character if we don’t let Him dig deep into our hearts. It’s through prayer and supplication that we see he fights for us. We need to get out of the way. As we see Him move, we can delight in Him and rejoice in His mighty hand.

Proverbs 27:19 says, ”As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” To whom do you reflect when waters rise? God, man, or self? Be honest in your self-reflection. We need to remember that the Lord does not reflect upon how we see things. We focus upon the outward appearances of others, but the Lord digs deeper and sets his eyes upon our hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7).

And So I Wait

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” 

– Lamentations 3:22-26

Waiting is hard during difficult times. Trusting the Lord seems even harder. I know for me, my desire is to want to fix the problem based upon my interpretation of the situation before me. My heart cries out to the Lord to do my will and the silence in return is deafening. The still small voice within me presses upon my heart that I can only see in part and that the One who sees me has a better view. His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. My ears fill with the resounding crescendo of the words, “TRUST ME!” And so I wait upon the Lord and His perfect timing.

The Spider’s Web

Who would have thought you could gain insight into life from a spider’s web? They are beautiful, purposeful in their design, but they are also a snare, deceiving prey with its beauty.

As I reflect on this today, it reminds me of Ecclesiastes, and it states that there is a time for everything. There are no guarantees that life will always be as I currently know it to be. People and things wither away and won’t endure the test of time. Whom will I put my confidence in when these changes happen? Who will hold me together and bring me through? Where will my hope be found when the sword crushes my spirit? If it’s in anything other than Christ, I deceive myself.

Where is your confidence today? Is it in your job, your relationships, self, or is it in the things you have and your talents? As beautiful as some items are, sometimes they can turn into a web of deception when we hold tight to them for security.

The Emerald Waters

Our family recently spent some time captivated by the emerald green waters of Destin, Florida. It was fun to watch my husband and daughter roll with each wave among the ombré hues of the Gulf.  With each swell, they would lean back and let the wave carry them and then look to the shore to measure the distance.  They would then swim out and wait for the next big one to carry them further. As I watched them from the beach, a pressing upon my heart began and the words, “Keep watching me.” filled my mind. It wasn’t a watching of people but something of the waters that stirred within my heart.

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In the Potter’s Hands

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

– Isaiah 64:8

The above verse has been on replay in my mind over the past few months as I pivot around in this season of uncertainty and change. When I say pivot, it really feels more like the spinning of a potter’s wheel. Just as I begin to feel that something is finished and ready to move forward, the next rotation comes too fast warping what was built up.  With each revolution of the wheel, I wonder if the lump of clay that has been spoiled within me can be remade.

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