August, 2003, July, 2006, August 1, 2006, November 4, 2012, January 5, 2014, September 13, 2015
Those are some of my significant dates. They include my move to Madison to take my first teaching job, my first mission trip, leaving the school district to begin working at the Church, my marriage, and the birth of my children. These are the dates when I understood, more clearly than any other times in my life, what it meant to be dependent on Christ. These are the times when life shifted, responsibility was overwhelming, and the future was unknown – and I had no choice but to surrender to Jesus. What are your dates? Your experiences? The times when you had to fall before Jesus with complete trust? My hope is that you have had at least one of those experiences, a time to look back on and say, “Jesus had control and we did ok.”
Unfortunately, those are only 6 dates. There are many, many days and weeks and years between them. Many days of life as “status quo”; days when I felt confident to live on my own power and control. Have I lived those normal, peaceful days with a full surrender and trust in Jesus? When life is in turmoil or change, when we feel like we have nothing to offer on our own, we fall before Jesus. However, the challenge lies in maintaining that dependence in our everyday, normal lives. Luke 9:23 says, “Take up your cross DAILY and follow me.” I don’t know if you can relate, but I don’t always surrender my everyday to Jesus.
More than anything, I desire my home to be springing with the life that Jesus, and Jesus alone, offers. I want my marriage to be centered in Christ, reflective of His grace, and a place where spiritual health abounds. My primary goal for my children is that they love the Lord and trust Him with all their hearts. I want my friendships to be places where Jesus is central and His love is poured out. And yet, God has been convicting me of a simple truth – spiritual health begins with me. I am half of my marriage. It cannot be spiritually healthy if I am not. My children cannot know spiritual health unless they see it modeled. And my home cannot spring with Life unless I am well-connected to the Life-giver.
And so, Luke 9:23 becomes more important. I must DAILY make the decision to surrender to Jesus. My decisions, my time, my finances, my priorities, my roles as friend and wife and mother and neighbor, must all be viewed first as a daily practice in trusting Jesus. My relationship with Jesus becomes a first priority, so that I can then place myself, my wants and desires SECOND to what Jesus wants of me. With this perspective, I feel an urgency to be daily sustained by God’s Word, prayer, community, and worship. I am convicted and confess that I place myself and my false sense of control before Jesus.
It’s not easy. Working towards our own spiritual health and dependence on Christ takes humility, patience, compassion, and an open heart. But by God’s grace, I get to take those steps. And I do so in confidence knowing that His ways are better than my own, and that I am a loved child of God. So this week, I will start each day with a simple prayer. Would you join me? “Lord, in this day, teach me to trust you. Open my eyes to the places where I can surrender my will to yours. Sustain me and give me your peace.”