Confession: I wasn’t going to talk about my word, Restore, at Adore on May 14. I had already prepared another talk on Romans 12. But as I was leaving church the day before, my friend Stacey Thacker asked what I was going to talk about. When I told her, she said “I think you need to talk about your word for the year.” It felt like a Holy Spirit prompting, so I went home and redid my talk.
On Monday, when I spoke on Restore (watch here), I had no idea that my pastor’s next sermon series was entitled Restored. Often I find that when God wants to get our attention, He continually gives us the same message over and over and over in a short period of time. My ears were perked up, listening for what He had to teach me.
On Thursday, my worship leader, Angie Elkins and I were reflecting on Adore and she made an interesting comment. She said that when she was selecting worship songs for Adore, she noticed that many of the songs about restoration were also about surrender. She said, “Don’t you feel like Restore and Surrender go hand in hand?”
I thought back to my message from last Monday: while I didn’t use the word surrender, that really was my final point: There’s a posture to restore. I shared about how in 1 Peter 5, Peter says “stand firm” twice. We must stand firm and allow God to restore us. You can’t restore a moving target. And that standing firm and allowing Him to work is surrender.
On Sunday, I walked into church, “Restored” splashed across the stage and across the bulletin, my ears still perked up, and my heart anxious to learn. And wouldn’t you know: the first sermon in the Restored series was about Surrender (watch sermon here).
Y’all! God convicted me last weekend of all the areas of my life where I had tightened my fist again. Dreams and desires I once released, I now gripped and shook at God in my prayers saying, “Do this! Please, God! Do this!” God reminded me that He wants all of me: all of my heart, all of my mind, all of my soul. He wants me to surrender completely to Him.
How do we do this?
Peter gives us three ways to surrender:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world – 1 Peter 5:7-9
First – Humble yourself. I hate this one. But I know that when pride takes over my thoughts, inevitable my inability to surrender is not far behind. I start telling myself I deserve this and deserve that. That the person who hurts me deserves this and deserves that. But when I, like my pastor prompted us to do in service last Sunday, approach God with open hands, with humility, I open myself to the work HE wants do in me. And truthfully, I know that His work is always more beneficial than my striving.
Second – Cast your anxiety on Him. It’s ok to tell Him. It’s okay to have a conversation with Him. It’s ok to say “God I really want this in my life.” It’s ok to be honest about our struggles, because He already knows them anyway. But there’s a difference between casting our anxieties and praying big, bold prayers, and scheming. I had been scheming – planning the perfect scenario and then asking God to do that. I didn’t leave room for Him to work. And there’s something that happens in the act of casting our anxiety on Him. The Greek Word for cast literally means to throw upon. We can throw it all on Him; He can take it. And I feel like God probably wants to take it because Peter tells us that He cares for us.
Third – Be Watchful. Be sober-minded. Don’t let anything distract you. Hebrews 2:1 says Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. The Greek Word for pay attention literally means to turn your mind to. Drifting is our natural tendency. We must be alert. We must turn our mind to God, because Satan is out there, prowling like a roaring lion, seeking to claim territory in your life. He’s looking for ways to try to prove to you that he’s bigger than our God. But he’s not. He lost the day Jesus walked out of the grave.
As I left church on Sunday, I received an email and a text message with some timely encouragement. Just like Mary in Mark 14, God reminded me that I am seen. All He requires of me and you is that we do what we can. Will we mess up? Yes. Will others question our surrender to God? Most likely. Will it hurt? Probably. But I don’t want to miss out on what God could have done if I just opened my hands in surrender.
Because surrender and restore go hand in hand.