“I give up.”
My husband always wants me to guess stuff. He wants me to guess the ingredients of the weird foods he has me try, guess the “surprises” he spoils me with, guess where we’re going – he always wants me to guess.
I try, really I do – but he’s REALLY good at surprises (and I looooove surprises, so it works out well). But eventually, I always end up giving up – and then he tells me.
Giving up is an interesting term – something that is usually viewed negatively in our society. The old adage “never give up” should be in the “Most Used Cliches” dictionary. And typically I would agree with that concept.
I constantly tell my students never to give up – especially when they are working on a tough reading passage or writing a laborious literary analysis. I constantly tell my daughter not to give up – when she’s tired from running in soccer or deliberating over yet another reduced fraction (ah, the pains of fourth grade).
We’ve grown so accustomed to hearing the phrase “never give up” that when it comes to the stuff we SHOULD give up, it’s pretty tough to do it.
Giving up, surrendering, waving the white flag – all ways we release control and allow God to take the reins and make the decisions.
I guess you’d say that control is an imagined idea in a fantasy world – because although we often try and keep it, we never really had it to begin with. The more we try and take control, the more we seem to lose it.
It’s best explained by a great worship song:
“My heart and my soul/I give you control/consume me from the inside out.”
Every single time I try and take over I make a mess of things. I am consumed by my worry and fret. But If I give my heart and soul completely to the ONE who is in control anyway, HE will consume me with HIS presence, and I can depend on His wisdom to guide me.
I often tell the story of the night I had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on my ankle. My husband asked me what I was most afraid of, and I told him I was afraid of being out of control while I was under the anesthesia. My husband took my face in his hands and told me something I will never forget as long as I live,
“Carrie Lane Wisehart, you have NEVER BEEN in control.”
In that moment, after 30 some years of life, I finally had a light bulb moment. I had never been in control. I tried all the time, but no matter how much control I tried to take, I couldn’t control the cancer in my ankle. I had to trust God with the process. Because there was NOTHING I could do. Absolutely nothing.
So in that moment I gave up. There was nothing I could do but trust, have the surgery, and live each day understanding and knowing that God – the same God who knew He was going to raise His son from the dead – had the wherewithal to know what was going to happen to me. And I was okay with that.
My cancer miraculously disappeared when the biopsy of my tumor returned – it was a miracle. But not before two agonizing weeks of waiting and trusting in God’s ability to lead me where I needed to go. Whether that was suffering or healing – I knew I had to relent the control I never had.
It’s funny to give up something that never belonged to you to begin with – but that’s what I had to do in order to allow myself the freedom to let go.
But isn’t there something freeing about letting go, giving up, and letting God take over? You don’t have to worry about what will happen and who will solve it. It’s about trusting in His eternal, big picture plan instead of consuming myself with the details and overthinking, worrying and plotting my steps.
He will direct my steps.
Once we learn to GIVE UP and SURRENDER control, God can use us in ways we never imagined.
Surrender – giving up – always costs something. It’s like the first time you jump off a diving board. The few seconds you are free falling in the air seem scary, but once you grow accustomed to letting go and just jumping, you want to do it again and again and again and again.
So, I often have to practice the art of surrender.
But the more I do it, the more I consistently see that God has bigger and better plans than my “invisible” grasp at control. And I continue to remind myself of all the times He has been faithful – and it makes the surrender all the more appealing. Because the alternative is the mess I make myself – and that’s never pretty.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Notice the word ALL. I’ve been noticing that a lot in scripture and worship lately. All is everything. It doesn’t say “all your heart but part of it” or “all your heart but the secret places.” It says ALL. So that’s everything. Total free fall.
But I love the last part. “…and he will make straight your paths.” I love it that it says “HE” will make straight your paths. Not me. Not broken Carrie with the bad ideas.
And that makes the cost of surrender perfect. Because when I lose myself in HIM, He finds me.
I give up.
This devotional is part of a series following a Women’s Retreat I spoke at. This is a follow-up of our weekend themed CHOOSE. We talked about Choosing Surrender, Choosing Obedience, and Choosing Joy. I hope you enjoy this 5-day series and hopefully find hope in the Jesus who allows us to have a choice in our walk with Him.
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