Jodie
Got the Newsboys song "I Surrender All" running around in my head today.

Surrender. When I hear the word, I think of those old black and white movies where aliens invaded the earth. Aside from being taken to our leader, they typically wanted us to surrender. Don’t know why, but that’s the first thing that pops into my head.

Surrendering to aliens? That’s scary. Surrendering to God? That’s scarier. At least we could see the aliens with our eyes and, hey, typically, we knew exactly what they were up to.

It’s not so with God, is it? We don’t always know what He is doing. He doesn’t clue us in; He doesn’t have to clue us in. And that’s what makes the idea of surrender so scary to us. Believe me, the devil loves nothing more to manipulate that fear so that we try to handle everything in our lives right by ourselves instead of giving it over to God to take care of for us. The devil convinces us that we won’t like what God does, that if we surrender to God, He will take control and lead us down paths of destruction and pain.

I well remember the first time I faced surrender. I was 27 years old. It was just after September 11, 2001. Family life at Fort Bragg was really uncertain. Nobody knew who was leaving when or for where or for how long. Most of the Special Forces soldiers had already pulled a vanishing act, and it was anybody’s guess when the rest would be wheels up for parts unknown. Like most military wives, I wrapped my (literal and figurative) arms around my man and held on tight. My prayers were mostly me screaming at God to not send Paul anywhere, because I just couldn’t handle it. In my mind, a deployment was the absolute worst possible thing that could ever happen.
And in the midst of all of that, God started telling me to let go. In Bible study, we talked about surrender. It felt like every sermon I heard was about surrender. Every song on the radio? You got it… surrender. I am almost certain God would have resorted to billboards if I hadn’t gotten the picture, He was firing that word at me so heavily. There just was no peace anywhere.

Then came that pre-dawn October morning. To this day, I can see it, smell it, taste it, feel it… I was on my knees in our living room and staring at a crossroads. I knew with everything in my spirit that I had to place my life (including my husband) squarely in God’s hands and stop trying to do it myself. But my mind didn’t agree. The devil had full control, telling me to hold on, that I couldn’t protect Paul if I let him go…

And that is when the devil went one step too far, because it hit me that I couldn’t protect Paul or myself at all. The fact was, that I didn’t hold him anyway, even though I had this illusion that I did. I felt like Saul on the Damascus road, when the blinding light appeared. (Maybe it was just the lightbulb over my head?) God is the only one who is with me and with Paul--and now with our daughter—everywhere we go. As long as I was trying to hold on to Paul, God couldn’t. That was the scariest thought of all.

Right then and there, I literally shoved my hands out in front of me and said, “Take it. Take it all, take us all… I’m yours. Send me where you want. Send Paul where you want… because being out of Your will is the worst place to be of all.”
Paul did not go to Iraq until nearly five years later. And when he did, both of us were ready because God had made us ready. I thought it would be the worst thing that could ever happen, but to be quite honest, it was the best. We’ve never walked closer to God or to each other than we have during or since that deployment. I didn’t say it was easy, but it sure was easier knowing that God had it.

And lest you think surrendering is a one-time thing… nope. Sometimes we take what we lay on God’s altar right back. We pick it up again. Sometimes, especially during deployment, I had to put myself and Paul back in God’s hands dozens of times a day. At one point, right after three of our soldiers disappeared, I nearly physically exhausted myself trying so hard to “keep him safe.” Somewhere, I got the idea that if I quit praying for an instant or he was off of my mind for an instant, I’d lose him. (I think we all know who that idea came from, huh?) It took me nearly a month to figure out that I was trying to protect him myself… an impossible task.

Surrender is something we all need to do. We all need to give our lives over to God and let Him have control. In all honesty, when we “give” our husbands or our children or our writing to Him, we are really giving over ourselves and our control over our lives. Tough, but necessary and, in the end, easier.

It is all about trust. God says that He will never leave us or forsake us. He will never do anything to hurt us. Do we trust and believe that in our heart of hearts? Do we believe that no matter what—good or bad—God is always always always operating in our best interest? Failure to believe that is what makes surrender hard. No, life isn’t always easy or fair, and we don’t always get what we want. But God makes sure we always get what we need… if we let Him.

JB

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