When we first come to know Jesus, we joyfully lay down our lives and turn over control to our savior. But when do we surrender after that, and how often do we need to lay everything down before God? Is it just when we get saved, is it when we’re repenting of a big sin, or is it … daily?
I admit it can be hard to surrender when I have my own plans that I'm holding on to. To be honest, I almost always have something that I’m worried about. But how am I supposed to let go and let God if I’m constantly trying to push my plan through to completion?
I had a run-in with this lately. I was in a great worship service at church. The lyrics were biblical, the church band was on point, and everything was set up for me to praise God with all my heart.
Everyone around me seemed to really be connecting with God, but something felt off for me. My mind was clouded, and I felt emotionally heavier than usual. I wasn’t sure if it was sin, spiritual warfare, or just being in a funky headspace, but I didn’t have the experience with the Lord in worship that I’d gone there hoping to have.
I left smiling politely but feeling silently dejected. I came home and was in a funk for a bit. Then I turned on some worship music and hopped on the computer to do some work.
King of the Jungle
I turned on one of my childhood favorites by Stephen Curtis Chapman, King of the Jungle, which has almost always really hit home for me. If you were a child of the 80s and 90s then you probably remember this song bursting through your boombox speakers. The lyrics go something like this:
“You’re the k-i-n-g of the j-u-n-g-l-e...
What I see keeps telling me this world’s gone crazy
But what is real says God is still on his throne
What I need is to remember one thing
And that would be the Lord of the gentle breeze
Is Lord of the rough and tumble
And he is the king of the jungle. "
It’s a really upbeat song and might even come across as cheesy with its upbeat 90’s-sounding pop rifts. But it’s always hit me straight in the heart. Knowing that the God I'm trusting my life to is sovereign and powerful, helps me rest easier and makes letting go less of a chore.
It’s so good to remember that regardless of what’s going on, God is unchanging. Hebrews 13:8 says:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
That means he’s always good, regardless of the scary things facing us. He always loves us, regardless of how we feel. And he’s always sovereign, regardless of how out-of-control the world appears.
That last part can be challenging though. It’s hard to fathom how a good God who’s completely sovereign would allow awful things to happen. But honestly, that’s a topic for another day. The takeaway is that whether we grasp it or not, the same God who is sovereign over cool, gentle breezes, a hug from a loved one, or my child’s smile, is also sovereign when we go through a hard time or when we feel disconnected from him.
He's still fully good. He hasn’t stopped loving us, even when we can’t feel his presence.
I’m not going to lie. I played that song on repeat. I said, “Alexa, start the song over,” more times than I could count until my husband came downstairs to watch a show together and said, “Alexa, turn off the music.” (He didn’t know. Don’t be hard on him.)
His Will is Better
But when I was listening to the music and sending out invoices for the week, I talked to the Lord and asked him for help. Then I figured the best thing I could do was simply surrender to whatever his will was for me. His plans are better than my plans, and quite frankly, I was exhausted from trying to manage it all.
So I said, “Lord, I surrender to whatever your will is for me." I opened my hands and let go of all the things I normally hold on to.
Friend, the craziest thing happened. When I loosened my clutch on how things had to be and surrendered to whatever his plan was, it felt like a burden was suddenly lifted. I could see clearer, breathe easier even. I couldn’t believe how freeing it felt to just… let go.
It was almost as if my need to fix things and feel close to God had blocked me from just resting in him. Then when I surrendered to him and his future plans for me, peace flowed like a river. It was as if the shackles that had held me back were released and I could just be.
I don't know why I was so surprised. His will is better. His plans are better than my plans, and his ways are higher than my ways. It's no wonder that remembering that and simply giving him control brought peace.
As I sat there for a minute, I was reminded of the joy and peace that are ours when we sit still before the Lord. Spending time with him makes it so much easier to let go. His glory and magnificence make it easy when we take the time to dwell on his beauty.
It reminds me of when I went to the Louvre, which is hands down the coolest art museum. Its ancient renaissance paintings take up entire walls with frames larger than a movie theatre and far more entrancing.
When I was 18 and fresh out of high school, I had the gift of getting to go there with my mom. I still remember what it felt like to peruse the halls. I felt like a tiny caterpillar in a world of butterflies. I couldn't stand tall enough or grow eyes large enough to take it all in.
At one point, I just collapsed in awe on a soft bench stationed in front of a truly giant painting. I sat there for what must have been forever, just soaking in the beauty of the old masterpiece. Its beauty and magnificence overwhelmed me and I had to be still.
God wants us to be still before him as well, and he's much more beautiful and magnificent than even the most enchanting painting in the Louvre.
My life verse has always been Psalm 46:10 because it sums up what I've always felt God saying to me:
“Be still and know that I am God.”
There’s something about observing the grandeur of our great God, and being still (instead of striving), that brings both humility, peace, and then unexpected joy. Suddenly surrender isn’t such a burden and letting go makes total sense. When we see God rightly, giving everything to him is a joy that fills our hearts with gratitude as we fall back into the arms of our loving father.
Have you ever felt that? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling that I’m not alone. There’s something holy about surrendering to God’s will that frees us up to enjoy it and perhaps feel his nearness easier in the process.
What do you think? Feel free to sound off below and let us know how surrendering to God has improved your life… and maybe gave you the freedom to sing and dance around your kitchen.