A couple of weeks ago during worship we sang the song “ It Is Well” by Bethel Music. I would encourage you to listen to the song. As we were singing I could not stop thinking about what it means to truly say “ It is well with my soul.” Even in the midst of a storm, facing a seemingly insurmountable obstacle how can it be well? I believe that we can truly say it is well with my soul at the most difficult times in our lives when we come to the point of surrender. It seems counter intuitive. Victory and surrender seem to be polar opposites. How can someone have victory if they surrender? It has to be one or the other, not both- or does it?
I grew up in a community descended from pioneers in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. In fact my great grandmother’s family had been homesteaders. When I drive up into the mountains near my family home the one room school house she attended is still standing today. These were the kind of people who believed in picking yourself up by your bootstraps. They survived harsh winters, sickness, times of poverty, and even death with a certain stoicism that defied anyone to tell them they could not accomplish something they had set their mind to. They were strong, both in mind and body. There is something to be said about being raised like this. I was the first person in my family to go to college. Not only did I finish college, I went on to graduate from medical school at the top of my class. It wasn’t easy, but if my great, great uncle could chop off his own toe with an ax just because he had a corn that was bothering him ( and yes, it is a family story I grew up hearing more than once), I certainly could finish medical school and residency. I was raised to be tough, tenacious, and to do everything with excellence. I did not come from a people to whom surrender came easily. However, I am learning that there is no shame in surrender to Christ. In fact, it is exactly in surrender to Him that I have found my greatest victories.
I grew up going to church. I accepted Christ as my savior in my little preschool classroom in the basement of my church. It was a class taught by two of the most humble, unassuming, caring women I have ever known; Miss Clara and Miss Wanda. I
( although I am certain they would argue with me) still consider them to be some of the most mighty women of God I have ever known. In that classroom they taught me that Jesus loves me, and even when we are little our prayers have the power to change things. There is a reason that Jesus said we have to have faith like a child. I believed in prayer, and that He answered prayer. I still do, but somehow for a long time I forgot it was OK to let go and let God.
I have come to learn ( or maybe I should say, I am in the process of learning) that surrender does not mean giving up, it means giving over. Jesus died on the cross as full payment for my sins ( 1 Peter 3:18). He rose from the dead as my victory.
Colossians 2: 12-15 ( NLT) For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
Ephesians 6:12 says that we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. If Christ has already won the victory and I am in Christ, the war has already been won. This does not mean that I sit down, cover my eyes and cower when the battle is on. I need to continue to stand and fight. In fact if you continue reading Ephesians 6 verses 13-18 it speaks about our part in the battle. I believe that David is a beautiful example of trusting God in the midst of the battle. We all know the story, David was facing a literal giant. He was a teenage boy armed only with a sling and some stones. Yet he knew he did not fight the battle alone. He declared that even when the situation looked impossible God would deliver him. David still went out and faced the giant, but he did so knowing that he went with the All Mighty One. It’s like in the movies when the little kid is being picked on by the bigger bully. One day tired of being tormented the younger kid faces up to the bully. You then see the bully run away in fear. Why? The camera pans back to the smaller kid and we see the little boy’s father was standing behind him. It is the same for us. When we finally stop trying to fight the battle on our own and allow God to be who He is, we will come to the place of victory. This is the place where we surrender our own ideas of what the outcome should be, how the battle should be fought and chose to rest in Him. It is a place of knowing that when I am weak He is strong ( 2 Corinthians 12:10) It is a place of knowing that He is greater than anything we are facing.
I encourage you to read Romans 8. It is a beautiful picture of what it means to live victorious in Christ. It does not mean that everything is going to go according to my plans, rather it means allowing God access into my circumstance, knowing that He has wonderful plans for me. ( Jeremiah 29:11) It is knowing and trusting that I do not have to be afraid because God goes before me, behind me and with me. ( Joshua 1). Surrender is not giving up the battle, it is giving it over to a God who loves me and has already won my victory.
If you would like some further reading the following are scriptures that I have turned to many times to remind me that I serve a God who is greater than any giant I may face.
Ephesians 1:18-23 Psalm 18:35
Isaiah 43:2 1 Corinthians 15:57
Philippians 4:13 Psalm 60:11-12
John 16:33 2 Corinthians 2:14
Deuteronomy 20:1-4 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
2 Chronicles 20:15 Isaiah 43:19