If you’re an American, you’ve probably heard the expression “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Surrender.”
What’s that? That’s NOT what the Declaration of Independence says?
“Oh,” she says sheepishly. “That’s right. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Yeah, yeah, that’s it! Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Well, this month at Facets of Faith we explore “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Surrender”─no disrespect to our nation’s founding fathers. Settle into a cozy chair, put up your pedicured toes (after all it is summer), and sip on some iced tea as you read about life, liberty and the pursuit of surrender.
I (Tracy) kick us off. Jennifer and Kim follow in the weeks ahead, so don’t miss their contribution to the conversation. Feel free to chime in yourself. We’d love to hear your life, liberty and pursuit of surrender stories too!
Have you ever lay dream-filled eyes on something and thought, “Now that’s what I want for myself”? Most of us want life. Most of us want liberty. And most of us want happiness. But surrender? Forget about it!
What might me miss if we decide not to embrace surrender with a welcoming hug? What if we bristle like a cactus and back away from God? “Don’t touch me! Quit poking! That hurts!”
Let’s face it. Sometimes surrender does hurt. Sometimes surrender keeps poking and prodding as we feel like an ember as the fire glows orange. Surrender’s heat sanctifies. Surrender’s heat says, I’ve got a better way. Surrender’s heat says, Follow me into the fiery furnace.
Who wants to join me?
Now don’t everyone raise their hands at once!
What’s the problem when we don’t surrender? (Every time God asks us to)
We’re not going to find liberty. We’re not going to live as God intended, and that’s no way to live at all. Christ died so we could have abundant life. In light of His sacrifice, why wouldn’t we want to live our lives to the fullest, even if it requires surrender that sometimes pokes and prods a bit more than we wish?
Our selfish, sinful nature says, I want what I want. Whatever makes me happy? I’ll grab at that!
We may or may not recognize our behavior, but we all have a sin nature. Awareness is what helps us surrender it to God bit by bit. Some things God shows me as sin now, I would never have recognized as such years ago.
Subtly, slowly (but then again not) He sets me a little freer. Each decision of surrender moves me closer to whom God intended me to be all along. Pure. Holy. Righteous.
I’m already Beloved. You too! Those other bits? They’re the work God is moving toward as He paints His masterpiece in each of us. We’re His workmanship and we’re made in His image. That’s why, if we love Him, we’ve got to cooperate with His plan.
Cooperation requires surrender to His authority.
I don’t always understand God’s plan. That’s good. It grows my faith. It grows me. Growing pains aren’t just for teenage boys.
Sometimes the growth, and the pain in that growth, helps me to have humility─not something that comes naturally to most. Certainly not to me. I, Me, My … not so humble.
And this is from a woman who wants to be, who loves Jesus, loves herself, and loves others albeit very imperfectly! But my “want to” isn’t broken. I want to do what God wants me to do. I want to be who God wants me to be. But oh brother can I not be sometimes!
Please tell me I’m not the only one.
God walked me through a situation where I didn’t meet someone’s expectations. It was devastating to my spirit. I’ve spent a lifetime of trying to do my best, to be my best and always put my best foot forward — perfectly. Everything in order. Everything just so. Best, best, best — must always do the best. Root deep, God keeps ripping away at it. Like a weed, He’s going to pull it all the way out. Ouch!
None of that matters! None of it! It doesn’t mean the people aren’t important. It doesn’t mean the project wasn’t important. It means I matter to God more than what He asked me to do.
What’s one thing I learned in my surrender moment?
I matter more to God than what He asks me to do. And He wanted to know if His approval mattered to me enough to outweigh others who didn’t see what I accomplished, didn’t see sacrifices made. Would His approval be enough? Would it be okay to my identity, my self-esteem if no one beside Him recognized one thing I did in that season?
I didn’t like it at first. I got mad. I’m used to relying on my performance. It’s been an AWESOME coping mechanism.
1. an adaptation to environmental stress that is based on conscious or unconscious choice and that enhances control over behavior or gives psychological comfort.
Compare defense mechanism (def 2).1
The problem with coping mechanisms is it’s all about cover up. Cover Girl doesn’t have anything on this girl’s coping mechanisms God’s chipping away at.
Do you see the key word in the definition? Control! And a close runner up? Psychological comfort!
I had poured my heart and soul into this project, and no one noticed (or so it seemed). It’s as if God blinded their eyes from seeing what I know and those in my inner circle know. Beyond that? Blind as a bat. Would I be okay with that?
I opened the gift God intended.
Yes! Yes, I would be okay with that!
Others’ blindness to my performance gave me freedom. It stung at first, like when sweat drips down into your eyes from hard work. But then, God gave me new vision, He removed the salty tears that blurred and gave me perspective.
I surrendered to Him, audience of One whose eyes see all that I do, all that you do too. He doesn’t miss a thing.
He says, Good job! I see you. I love you! You are Mine. I know this was a hard lesson for you to learn, but isn’t it liberating? You’re not measured by what you do. I want more than that for you. You don’t have to try so hard. Rest in Me. Listen for My voice. Please Me. Don’t worry about the others. Perhaps when the time is right I will reveal to them. For now, you’ve learned a valuable lesson. I love you no matter what! And you will not always meet other people’s expectations no matter what you do, so stop trying so hard to do so. Just do what I ask you to do. No more. No less. No matter what, you are enough. Remember what I told you. You are good enough and sometimes good enough is good enough.
For a woman who has had a tight grip on performance as her security blanket, that sentiment feels foreign, yet liberating to my ears.
God set me a little more free. I stopped striving to earn other’s approval. And in turn I got me back, only a better version, a bit more sanctified. I got a little scorched by the flame. It hurt. But God made it all better in a way only He can. I do care what He thinks. And I’m growing to know I do make Him happy. It’s hard to imagine in my sinful, fallen state.
Coping mechanisms have a way of holding us hostage. God sets His captives free! I don’t have to be an overachiever to be appreciated. Praise Jesus!
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Surrender. Perhaps that’s the key to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The more I surrender, the happier I become.
What about you? How has God brought life and liberty as you pursue surrender?
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1”Dictionary.com.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com n.d. Web. 29 June 2017. <http://www.dictionary.com/>