Oh boy. It has been a long, long few weeks in our household. As it typical for many this time of year, we got hit with a bug that was not only relentless, but really, really mean. I did not want it as a friend and did not invite it over, but came it did against my wishes and refused to leave without a fight. And let me tell you, this mama knows how to fight when something, be it man or virus, tries to cause harm to her babies.
But we seem to be in the clear now (thank you, Jesus!) and I can finally sit down and focus on something other than fevers and boogers for awhile… and write.
One of the things I find to be true of most of us is that we’ll pretty much do anything to avoid pain. We generally associate pain with suffering and suffering is “bad” so we do almost anything we can to make sure we only experience things that feel “good”. Whether it’s suffering that is the result of something we’ve done or suffering because of others, we generally try to avoid it.
We like feeling good. Having friends that love me feels good. A hot shower feels good. Hot tea on a rainy day while reading a well-written book is really good.
I like good. I like it when life is going my way. When it does, it makes me feel like all is well in the world, even if I know it’s not really, but it’s well with ME and that’s, well, good.
But (you knew that was coming, didn’t you? It’s how I roll), I’ve been learning that things going our way doesn’t necessarily mean what we think it does. Nor does suffering.
In my last post I shared with you that my plans have been sidelined. Maybe not even sidelined, but pushed so far out of my line of sight that I don’t even know what to look ahead to. I have been throwing my own little fit worthy of an Oscar here in my world. Not outside, of course, but in my mind and heart I have been so mad at God. I’ve thrown all sorts of questions beginning with “WHY?!”up to Him with the hope that He’d send me an e-mail or a holy vision of sorts saying, “Summer, my dear, beloved child, I’m doing this because: (insert awesome reason here). Surely you can see why I’ve said, “Wait” now.”
But He hasn’t.
I still have no clue what He’s up to. I’m still thoroughly confused. The difference between me now and me a bit ago is that I have given up. Not “given up” in the sense that I am lying here waiting to die, but given up my control.
One of my absolute all time favorite songs is “I Surrender All.” It’s a classic hymn that just begs the worshipper to make sure they know what they’re really saying. “Do I really surrender EVERYTHING to Jesus? My hopes and dreams? My marriage? My children? The health of my family? EVERYTHING? Do I trust Jesus with my WHOLE life?”
Those are some deep thoughts there. You can’t just say, “Yes!” without realizing that with that surrender might come pain. Maybe even real, true suffering. Surrendering one’s whole self to Jesus doesn’t mean that you’ll be skipping through rolling fields of green sniffing wildflowers. Surrendering one’s whole self to the Master of all creation means that we are willing to do what He thinks is best, even if it is painful. And sometimes it is brutally painful.
Thus far I have not suffered like some of my brothers and sisters in Christ have suffered. I am thankful for that because I would never desire anyone to carry the load some of them have had to carry. And in my flesh I don’t want to suffer like that. But am I willing to trust God so much that I would allow Him to lead me through such a journey? Every part of me is resisting the thought.
I think, especially in the era of the “Prosperity Gospel” (the one that preaches that God only wants good things for His followers: to be healthy, wealthy and wise, HALLELUJAH! Pass the offering plate!) we are taught to think that if we suffer or even when things don’t go our way, we must have done something to fall out of favor with God. Have you felt like that?
Even though I know it’s not true (nor is the prosperity gospel, by the way), I have been wrestling with why I’ve been feeling so lost and confused. Surely I must have done something wrong to cause God to not agree with my plans, even my good ones.
Now, before I lead you into thinking that God doesn’t want good things for His people, that is absolutely false. He desires to bless us abundantly. The question is, however, does His idea of blessing look like ours? Ours tends to be tangible, while His tends to be focused on the eternal. And God has a real mess to work with because we aren’t perfect. His plan for us isn’t to make us happy, but to make us HOLY. Refining is part of that process, which can at times be painful, but it is through that refining that we are blessed beyond measure. Sure, sometimes there are tangible blessings along the way, but those are added bonuses. The real blessing comes much later.
That said, while I’ve known this in my head and heart I have struggled to apply the fact that God doesn’t want to be my co-pilot. He wants to be the driver of my life (yours too). We’re supposed to trust His leadership, even if it looks scary or like it might hurt or if it means foregoing those plans I’d made. Even if it’s SILENT.
Instead of throwing my Oscar-worthy tantrums (again, they’re inside my head… or made visible only to those who I know will still love me and maybe stand there and laugh at/with me while I’m throwing them, you know, the really good friends), He wants me to say, “Okay. I surrender all, Jesus.”
I don’t know about you, but it is so scary to let go of the reins. If I’m going to let go, the only one I’m going to give control to is going to be the One who has the whole picture not of just my life, but of all eternity, in the palm of His hands, someone I know well (and crave to know even better) and who loves me SO much that He was willing to suffer the most brutal of deaths on my behalf. Yeah, Jesus, I can trust You. I DO trust You.
And I surrender all.
(but can I skip through rolling fields of green while smelling wildflowers too?). 😉