I Keep Coming Back to SURRENDER

I don’t know if I will ever stop coming back to Surrender. And I promise, I’ll be getting some blogging on our Israel trip back in February done, I’ll keep up the music news, and whatever other things are on my mind. But I think this will become a serious theme of this blog. And I want it to be a re-occuring theme in my life. As I’m reading that book ‘Surrender’ I talked about a couple of posts ago (go HERE for that) I picked up another book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while: ‘Absolute Surrender’ by Andrew Murray I have an older copy of it, given to me by dear friends in North Carolina long ago, and the front cover is falling off. But even though he wrote the book in 1897, over a hundred years ago, the words still ring so very true now. Here’s what happened in my journal as I read, and the quotes that jumped out of the pages right to my heart this morning:

April 2, 2016

(more words on surrender – these from Andrew Murray’s book “Absolute Surrender”)

“…your God in Heaven answers prayers which you have offered for blessing on yourselves and for blessings on those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands? What is our answer to be? God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have failed miserable, who feel themselves condemned because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life.”

Oh, Lord, when will I ever not be in the last category, and be able to say with confidence that I’m part of that first group?? I ask You to please open my eyes. I’m reading Your Word (not as much as I could be, but I am reading it), I’m reading these books by godly people who are expanding on these truths I want to see alive in my life – Surrender, Absolute Surrender, Let God Guide You Daily

– and I am afraid I’m not changing or going to change. I’ve got all this head knowledge I’m gaining, but I want to read for HEART change! My soul screams it! I can’t even write fast enough to tell You how I feel about these frustrations. Jesus, I want to be completely surrendered! I want to stop failing all the time! Oh wretched person I am, who will save me from this body of death!!

Almost comical, I pick up the book to keep reading, I glance at the back cover, and this is what it says:

“Every ardent Christian aspires in his innermost being to enter into a successful, intimate relationship with his Lord. Yet, it seems impossible at times. The surge of emotional fervor that often buoys up a believer as he leaves a Spirit-filled service just as often leaves him frustrated and defeated a few days later.

Well, that can’t get any closer to how I feel.

“I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds partly, I cannot write properly.”

Lord, I want to be Your pen. I don’t want to share the power to command my life. I want You in full control – why don’t I then Let Go??

…..if these words strike a chord in you, reader, then come back next time for the rest of the words I want to share from Andrew Murray’s book, mixed with my own thoughts and prayers. It’s not a light subject: this thing of surrender. But I believe it’s the key, it’s the vital piece so many of us are missing. And if you’ve never considered surrendering to God, I hope it pricks your mind to consider such a bold step.

Perseverance can be broken down in First Steps

STEP 1: Identify the first obstacle.

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STEP 2: Face the fears that the obstacle brings up. How do you face fears? Well, the best way is biblically. For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1)

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STEP 3: Keep climbing over the obstacle, despite the difficulties.

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STEP 4: Do that again.

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See, Perseverance is all about ‘keeping on.’ I get knocked down, but I get up again, you know? Pressing on doesn’t mean victory every time. It means going through the wins and losses and moving ahead. By the way, you can’t keep going if you don’t know where you’re headed. Maybe I’ll write about that one day.

all photos were taken one day we spent up on White Wash in ABQ NM. great day with the family 🙂

Pressing On

This will be two-part, as I want to dive into the tie-in that this can have with my last post, Admitting Defeat. If you didn’t read that one, please do so either before or after you peruse these thoughts.

DSCN0303So the thoughts I’m going to share today might at first seem to be a retraction of what I wrote previously. They are not. This is simply the other side of the coin. But let me first define some words to help us be sure that what I wrote before still holds true in my thinking in light of what I have to say now…

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WORDS QUIT AND DEFEAT:

Quit mean to depart from, leave; to have done with, to forsake. This word is something we choose to do, it’s our reaction to situations.

to [be] Defeated: to [be] beat; victory won over [you]; to [be] prevented success. This word is something that happens to you. But notice with me something interesting: in order to experience defeat, it implies that a person would have to have been trying, fighting, and going for success. And trying against some kind of opposition. You usually aren’t defeated by nothing (that should be defined as quitting). And admitting defeat does not have to follow with quitting. The two can be separated.

So what do we do then after we’ve had to admit an area we’ve been defeated? We try again. We press on. And we do so in better ways: learning from the past lost victory, and moving forward.

Let me go back to that tiny incident that prompted me to write about defeat in the first place: my sprained ankle that is still not better (as I’ve heard is quite normal). What did I do the next day? Did I give up and sit on the couch all day long? No, I learned from it. I learned my limitations, and I tried again inside those limitations. I attempted a very small workout the next day, and it went well. When I had some swelling, I stopped and put my foot up for a few minutes with ice.

When we’ve been physically defeated, we need to admit it, evaluate it, and try again with gained knowledge how not to lose. When we’ve been mentally defeated, we need to take time to reflect, pray, and go at it again with a different mind-set. When we’ve been spiritually defeated – ah, that’s the tricky one! – we need to admit it to God, and try again, in HIS strength, not our own.

Press on, my friend, but not in a stubborn way that doesn’t change from the first time. Let the little defeats be admitted (that’s called humility) and learn how to try again (that’s called pressing on, or perseverance).

Admitting Defeat

I am not good at that at all. I will fight to the bitter end before I admit I am done. Nothing gets me down! I will not stop and say ‘okay, you’ve got me, I’m done in!’

Which can often be my un-doing. It’s probably better just to admit when I’ve been beat. Which is what I fought doing today…

I write tonight as I sit with my foot propped up and throbbing still from a five-week old sprain. I almost admitted the need to sit back and rest. At least, I told the dance teacher at Irish step dancing that I’d have to put my account on hold for a while. But then I came home, still not ready to throw in the towel and mowed the lawn. Yes, now it is throbbing.

Jacob was also a man who didn’t want to admit defeat (read more about that in Genesis 32). He had his fears, he had his moments of admitting many other things. But when he wrestled with the Angel of God, he just wouldn’t give up. “NOT UNTIL…” he said, as he clung to His feet.

What will it take for me to give up? Not until I’m dog-tired, broken, and incapacitated? Not until the argument is won even though the friendship is lost? Not until I break down and cry it out and realize I can’t do it all? Not until I’ve burned every bridge in an attempt to prove that I can do it myself?

It takes more than courage to come to the place where you say, okay I cannot. I’ve given it my best, and I am not adequate. Then, a door opens, and there is room for Someone to step in who is: is what? Is adequate, sufficient, capable, and kind. That moment that we ‘give up’ and let God, that’s a much better moment than any victory won at all costs.

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(took this photo at the Pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg October 2014)

A Tie, Some Scissors, and a Bank

How on earth does that go together? I’ll tell you, and it just happened today to me for the first time. I mean, it’s not everyday you walk into a bank and a total stranger offers you his tie and a pair of scissors to add to the chunks happily cut out by various females behind the counter and elsewhere.

At this point in time, you are probably as confused as I was when I watched the teller take scissors to a perfectly good tie while attached to the gentleman in the business suit. And they were conversing as if this was perfectly usual! My curious sideways glances invited me in on what was happening however: as I finished my own much more boring transaction, the man walked up to me and offered some scissors to participate in this fun, destructive act. He then explained that this childish cutting is part of a German tradition on the first day of a commonly celebrated holiday: Fasching. Here’s a little video so you can get a small picture of the events going on over the next week around here:

While this particular holiday may not make it to a permanent location on our family calendar, it’s always fun to see different celebrations from another culture. Encyclopedia Britannica has a nice little blip on the history of events: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/202177/Fasching.

As a military spouse, I cherish these impromptu events in my life. It’s unplanned, unexpected, and sometimes utterly necessary. The fun and humor in getting to experience diverse cultural events, especially when they come at me in funny forms like chopped-up menswear, balance out all the challenges that come with trying to learn a new language, figuring out where to buy groceries, and overcoming the other various challenges with being stationed overseas.