Have you ever had a plan? Not the day to day plans or to do lists that we all make. I mean a PLAN. A plan so pertinent to your existence, your future, your happiness that you started planning and scheduling everything else around it. Not just your day, your week, your year; but your entire life. Until it took on a life of its own. We’ve all had a plan like this. You probably have one right now. But our plans don’t always work out the way we expect, do they?
You know who also had a plan? Jesus. His plan was in perfect harmony and complete synchronicity with God’s plan. And, as Christians, we all agree that Jesus’ plan “worked out”. It’s not be a plan most of us would pursue. None of us is going to wake up tomorrow morning and say, “You know what sounds like a good idea? Persecution. Death.”
But that’s where we’re all ending up. At the end of our best laid plans, whether our hopes are dashed or all of our big plans come to fruition; it all ends the same way. And, I think, we all intend to end up in the same place…Jesus.
So if our final act on earth is death and our ultimate goal is Heaven – if we are headed to the same destination as Jesus – why are we fighting so hard to control how we get there and every aspect of our lives along the way, instead of following Jesus’ example of surrender?
Jesus is our example in every way. For example, the fruits of the Holy Spirit which Jesus embodied perfectly…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. However, one of his greatest characteristics was his willingness to surrender to the desires of his Heavenly Father because that made everything else possible. Jesus came to earth with a mission for his life that would ultimately end in his death on the cross and he would not be tempted or swayed to abandon God’s plan for his life.
Matthew 16:21-23 (NIV)
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
There are two reasons that we stand in the way of God’s plan. 1) We don’t know what it is. Or 2) we do. We either have absolutely no idea what God wants. Or it is made perfectly clear what God wants from us; and out of fear of failure, pain, or rejection, we choose not to follow through.
Matthew 16:24-26 (Voice)
24 (to His disciples) If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me. 25 The person who wants to save his life must lose it, and she who loses her life for Me will find it. 26 Look, does it make sense to truly become successful, but then to hand over your very soul? What is your soul really worth?
So, the question is, do we have the courage to let God take the lead and find out what He has in store for us? Can we let go of control? The truth is our need to control, to manipulate, to work things out for ourselves is creating resistance against God’s plan. We don’t think of it that way, but that is exactly what’s happening – we’re standing in direct opposition to God’s plan.
Please don’t misunderstand. This isn’t about goals or accomplishments, or even purpose and calling. It’s not about getting what we want or even getting what God wants for us. It’s about experiencing God like never before, soaking in His Presence, aligning ourselves with Him in every possible way in order to truly connect with Him so that we can connect with ourselves again – to find out who we really are and learn to listen to our OWN intuition because that IS the voice of God within us brought to us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can let go of what we think we want/need – even let go of who we think we ARE – and finally discover the truth of who God created us to be and what we were specifically designed to contribute to the world. In other words, which brick is mine and where does it fit in the wall.
Ephesians 2:19-22 (MSG)
That’s what we all want to know…
Who am I?
Where do I belong?
What am I supposed to contribute?
Do I have anything to contribute?
We may not realize that’s what we’re asking but that’s where all of this stuff comes from…the constant planning, goal setting, controlling, people pleasing, giving unsolicited advice to other people, judgement, unrealistic expectations. It’s exhausting. Aren’t you exhausted? Are you ready to surrender?
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Wouldn’t it make all the difference in the world to truly KNOW, once and for all, that God is in control and it’s all going to be okay in His timing? And not just because people say it all the time, but…for real. What if? Even if it doesn’t look like what WE hoped for or expected.
The following section is my personal reflection on the “Steps to Surrender” as presented by writer and speaker, Gabrielle Bernstein. According to Gabrielle, the steps to surrender are prayer; focus on what’s thriving; obstacles are a sign that you are headed in the right direction; ask for a sign; and when you think you have surrendered, surrender more.
1 – Prayer. We spend a lot of our prayer life petitioning the Lord for things we think we want or need. Tell me how, Lord. Tell me what. And that’s okay. God’s word tells us to be specific in our requests. But that’s not the only form of prayer. I want to encourage you to spend some of your prayer time another way. Soaking. Just soaking. Spending time in His Presence with no agenda of your own. Just soaking Him in and experiencing Him with a quiet heart and a quiet mind. Then pray that God’s will be done in whatever way ultimately brings about the best outcome for ALL. The fact is your agenda may not be in alignment with the greater good. So ask how you can come into alignment with His plan. It goes back to the brick – instead of praying for your brick, pray for the wall.
2 – Focus on what’s thriving. Instead of focusing on what’s missing and what’s not working, which leads to a spirit of discontent and bitterness, focus on what’s already going right. What FEELS right in your spirit and in your gut – those areas of your life that feel good and bring your peace and joy. As you take your eyes off of what’s not working and focus on what is, what is begins to expand into what isn’t. And what isn’t working begins to work. It could be that you come into alignment with His will through prayer and positivity and that thing that wasn’t working shifts into something new altogether. Or it could be that through prayer and positivity, you are able to see solutions and inspiration where it did not exist before.
3 – Obstacles are signs that you are headed in the right direction. You always hear people say, “That’s the enemy’s opposition! You must be headed in the right direction if he’s trying to hold you back!” I’m not saying that there is no such thing as spiritual warfare. There is. But if God is allowing the enemy to oppose you, there’s a reason. And it’s this. You have something to learn. Maybe a bottom to hit so that you can learn to get back up. An opportunity to seek and connect more deeply with God. The willingness to let go. To listen. The resilience and determination to make a way where there is no way. The opportunity to find out who you are – even if you discover something about yourself that you don’t particularly like. It’s part of the process.
When you face an obstacle, you’re going to find out who you are and you’re going to find out who God is. So instead of bringing opposition back at the obstacle, creating resistance – instead of fighting it, roll with it. Experience it. Get curious about it. Look at it from all angles – not from an idol of knowledge – but with pure interest and enthusiasm for the journey ahead as the Holy Spirit reveals what you need to know, where you need to grow, stretch, change, move forward. Take the opportunity to connect more deeply with God in faith as He makes a way.
4 – Ask for a sign. Guidance. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the next step in God’s plan. Ask for confirmation that you are moving in the right direction.
Seek Him in prayer. Carve out that quiet, prayer time in His Presence. Ask. And then wait in stillness, without agenda, for His response. Then ask for confirmation of what you feel Him saying. Because of Jesus, we have full access to and the full attention of the Father. We have the ability to be in constant contact with God without mediation; and to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit who is our helper and great gift from God.
Personally, God speaks to me in numbers and images. First in my head or my Spirit and then in the physical world. But He also confirms through the words of other believers. Tune in and figure out how He speaks to you, specifically. This gift can only be developed by regularly spending time in His Presence and cultivating your willingness to listen.
5 – When you think you’ve surrendered, surrender more. Deep calls to deep. Imagine a crystal clear body of water. Even when the water is clean and still, it’s hard to see beyond the surface. But when you allow yourself to slip below the surface, a whole new world is revealed. As you explore, you go deeper and deeper still. Before you know it, you’re swimming along without effort or fear. No more gasping for air. Just enjoying the rhythm and movement of the water.
The same is true of surrender. When you live in surrender, you begin to align with God’s will and you find yourself following the wild adventure that He has just for you in this earthly life; you release the worry, fear, anxiety, and doubt related to a self-controlled life and find peace, joy, love, and contentment. That’s what it is to experience God…enjoying the rhythm and movement of the water.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 (Voice)
7 But blessed is the one who trusts in Me alone;
the Eternal will be his confidence.
8 He is like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots beside the stream.
It does not fear the heat or even drought.
Its leaves stay green and its fruit is dependable, no matter what it faces.
34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
What do you need to surrender?