Surrender Can Be a Process

I wanted to feel peace before making my life-changing decision to retire. I wanted, needed, am wired for a clear step-by-step plan to know what is coming next and how to get from point A to point B. I longed for it, earnestly sought it, prayed for it, and asked many others to pray for it as well.  I did not receive the peace or the clearly defined path that I felt I needed before I could make the decision to retire.

Eventually I changed the focus of my prayers. For weeks I put the following prayer request on our church prayer list, “Please pray that we would trust God with our finances and our careers.” Because when I really looked at what was holding me back from total surrender I realized that, for me, part of it was a trust issue.

Could we make it on one paycheck? Still help the girls with their tuition? Attend family weddings in Florida and Georgia this summer and so on? Would I regret walking away from a great income and the perks that went with it (free cars, free trips, etc)? I needed to take my eyes off of my fears and put them on my Savior. I needed a laser focus on who God is and what His Word says. I needed to focus on what was truly important – God and his plans and purposes – not mine.

I copied James 1:5 into my planner each week, “If any of you lacks wisdom. He should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” I realized I lacked wisdom regarding God’s call on my life and the changes I would be making if I were to retire.

As I started to move towards total surrender I was deluged with doubts and fears surrounding the decision I was about to make. Which meant writing 2 Corinthians 10:5 for a while and saying it to myself over and over (substituting the we for I), “I demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and I take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.”

As the feelings ebbed and flowed, I repeated (and still do repeat) Proverbs 3:5-6 to myself, “Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. In all my ways acknowledge him and he will direct my paths.”

And finally, when I knew internally that I was finally ready to surrender, to truly pray “I will do anything God, anything,” to trust God completely, my weekly planner verse changed to Psalm 46:5, “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

The peace I longed for in the decision-making process, that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I did receive it – but only after the decision was final. It came as an overwhelming, God-given peace. I felt a lightening of my spirit as I finally leaned in to and answered God’s call to leave my career of 18 years and pursue ministry full time.

The clear step-by-step plan – still waiting for that one. I’ve come to realize that God in his infinite wisdom may choose not to give it to me. I do not know what the future holds or what shape or time line my “full time” ministry will take. But I trust in the God who holds my future.