Have you ever noticed how the theme of surrender shows up over and over in the Bible? From Abraham, Moses, Joshua, the prophets, Ruth, the Apostles, as well as Mary and Joseph (just to name a few), the common thread of surrender to God’s will and power weaves its way through the story of each person’s relationship with God. None of them were qualified for their calling. None were worthy. And obedience was usually a bit inconsistent. Maybe you feel that way, too? I know I do. But we can learn much from those who trusted God and moved forward in His power.
In every case the power to fulfill their calling, and the knowledge of the next step of obedience to take, came not when these frail and flawed human beings resolved to accomplish the goal with their knowledge and power, but rather when they confessed their lack of understanding and ability, and declared their need for and trust in God to empower their obedience.
The same is true for me and you. God calls us to much bigger, scarier, sacrificial lives than any resolution or goal we could ever set for ourselves.
How do we respond to God’s call?
We don’t have to know every step we will take in obeying God, we just need to remember the crucial first two steps:
- Remember who we are called to follow.
- Surrender to Him.
Believing the One who is in us is greater than any obstacle, lack, or opposition we will face equips us to entrust ourselves wholly to the One who calls us out of the comfortable and known and into the uncomfortable and unknown.
One of my very favorite expressions of this kind of surrender is voiced by John Wesley in his Covenant Prayer.
⇑ CLICK THE IMAGE TO REQUEST A 4 X 6 DIGITAL PRINT OF THE COVENANT PRAYER. ⇑
Obedience is tied to surrender.
Praying those words of Wesley reminds me of how dependent I am on Christ’s ability to empower me to even say those words, much less live them out.
You see, I know (sooner more likely than later) I’ll think, “I’ve got this!” and begin to trust in my ability, knowledge, and sufficiency to walk out my calling.
Whenever I respond in this fashion, I come up far short of where God desires to take me. Or, more likely, I fall flat on my face in humiliating failure.
I’m not alone. I see this familiar pattern recorded in the Biblical accounts of people who sought to follow God. And I know it from my own past experience.
We need God in order to obey and follow him.
That is why no resolution will be as effective as complete surrender when it comes to trusting and walking in faithfulness to God.
Will we respond like Mary or Zechariah?
Recently I read Timothy Keller’s book, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ. In chapter five, he guides the reader in a detailed examination of Mary’s call and her obedient response. Keller contrasts the responses of both John the Baptist’s father (see Luke 1:5-23; 57-64) and Jesus’ mother (see Luke 1: 26-38).
Zechariah’s response illustrates the struggle to believe God’s message when we are not willing to relinquish control to Him.
Like many of us, Zechariah’s response focused on his own ability to bring about the results God promised. Zechariah’s pride doesn’t block God from bringing about his purpose, but it does result in God humbling Zechariah as the Lord reveals how His strength is made perfect in Zechariah’s weakness.
Mary, on the other hand, models what a faithful Christian response entails.
The message and calling the angel conveyed to to Mary went against all she had ever been taught about God. She wrestled with questions, but there was a crucial difference in her questioning and that of Zechariah. Mary’s “How can this be?” was clearly an attempt to understand God’s revealed truth rather than an attempt to stay in control.
Ultimately, she chose to embrace the mystery of God’s plan and surrender to His sufficiency to accomplish it by using her in all her frailty and humanness.
Use these FREE PRINTS to remind yourself from whom your power comes…
As we seek to obey God and fulfill our calling, it helps to remind ourselves often why and how we will be able to reach the goal. It is by the grace and power of God that we can go where He sends us and do what He calls us to do.
I’ve made a few freebies based on the images in this post. You’re welcome to request a copy of any that will help you deepen your trust in Christ.
If you want to print out and frame the above photo as a memory jogging tool, just click the button below and I’ll email you a link to the file. You can either print it at home on your printer or upload it to someplace like Walgreens or Target and have a 4 x 6 photo made.
Would you like a 4 x 6 print of the Covenant Prayer by John Wesley? Click the button or image below and I’ll email the image file to you.
Here is a vertical adaptation of the featured image at the top of the post. It is also 4 x 6 so it will be easy to print at your favorite photo processor or print at home. It should slide in a standard frame or just pop it on your fridge, the dash of your car, or put on your mirror as a little reminder of what trusting in Christ is and is not!
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