Scheduling Surrender

I slid my meatballs into the oven, threw some spinach in with the sautéed mushrooms, sat back down to edit the opening paragraph of my Rhetoric essay, and exhaled slowly.

Why this weightiness? Why so heavy, heart?

I carefully went through a mental checklist of the various aspects of my life: a college that I love, two jobs I enjoy, new friendships to build, old friendships to nurture, celebrations to share in, a supportive family, encouraging mentors in the faith – a beautiful collage of people and places and shaping experiences that on most days would have me feeling filled to overflowing. So why was today so different?

I narrowed the search in the database of my brain and deliberately outlined the specific events of my day: Class. Class. Class. Lunch. Homework. Class. Work. Homeward commute. Make food while doing homework. And that was that. Here I was.

I pulled out my planner to outline tomorrow’s schedule, and doodling in the margins, noticed one little box in today’s agenda that was still unchecked. A detail that had somehow slipped my notice as I was crossing off tasks on my way out the door this morning. An endeavor I had ignored as I was rushing through my very full, could-have-been-vibrant day.

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Surrender.

Yes, in the wee hours of the night as I was scratching out the necessities of the forthcoming day, something in my soul had prompted the actual scheduling of surrender. And I, in my determination to enter each new hour fully prepared, had conveniently danced right around that responsibility – ignoring lingering hurts, stuffing some raw emotions, holding on to unconfessed sin. The result was an empty ache, a heavy spirit, and a confused heart.

In waltzing around surrender, what did I miss?

The joy of casting my cares on the Lord and allowing him to sustain me. (Psalm 55:22)

Partaking of the peace of God which transcends all understanding. (Phil. 4:7)

Receiving rest through offering up my weary heart at the feet of Jesus. (Matt. 11:28)

When we come thirsty, He fills us up. When we come lonely, He brings us into fellowship with Him. When we come with a humble heart and a loose grip, He gently takes the burden out of our hands.  Surrender is the act of hauling our brokenness to the foot of the cross and proclaiming, “I do not want this anymore. You can have it all.” It is intentional. It is daily. It is beautiful.

I closed the laptop, checked the meatballs, and set distractions aside to let God do His freeing work in my soul. First thing on the agenda tomorrow? Surrender. I don’t want to miss out on this again.

How have you seen the power of daily surrender in your own story?

Where do you need to schedule surrender in your daily life?

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My Gap Year: What was the Purpose in the First Place?

60H

All through high school I thought I had the four years after graduation figured out. I knew I was generally expected to dive right in to college and I was determined to follow through. I knew what I wanted to study and knew the general location of where I wanted that to be. I knew I wanted to attend school loan-free and complete it debt-free. I knew I would be paying for my own education and that I would graduate at a younger age than the average student. I knew there would be challenges, but I was confident to face them. I was familiar with the idea of a gap year and at moments would entertain the possibility, but for the most part, I decided against it. I knew a year out of school would mess everything up. Yep…I had it all figured out.

Senior year brought a flurry of activity, and with it came that multitude of college applications, essays, forms, visits, and scholarship and financial aid paperwork (as well as the vast overabundance of mail and phone calls.)  It also brought a growing level of uncertainty. After every meeting with an admissions counselor and every conversation with a prof, I would picture myself in that particular academic setting and point out all the things I admired and appreciated – yet my heart would be uneasy. I wasn’t nervous. Neither was I excited. Deep down, I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be there. Not “there” as in a specific school…”there” as in college itself.  And I really did not want to accept that realization at all.

I had everything figured out, remember? It was all lined up. I wanted the challenge, the adventure. I wanted to share post high school experiences  with my friends. I thought I wanted to live up to the cultural expectation of “college after high school because that’s just what you do.” It all made sense. Still, I had no peace. I was pursuing my plans instead of pursuing God’s will.  That, my friends, is a dangerous place to be. In the words of Corrie ten Boom, “There are no ifs in God’s world, and no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety. Let us pray that we may always know it!” So gently, firmly, and with oh-so-much love in His voice, God began to impress these words upon my heart:

“Stop. Stop the pursuit. Stop forging forward. Rest in me. I have so much more I want to share with you. So many ways to reveal myself to you. I want your full attention. I want you to know me closely, personally, intimately. Stop.”

Every protest and excuse and struggle that I spewed forward fell flat (of course) and the deposit day came and went without a place for the next semester reserved in my name. My files were put aside for potential future reference. My years of careful planning were completely gone within a couple of months. I was left with two things: absolutely no idea what I was doing in the fall, and a whole lot of peace. When the Lord of the Universe calls you by name and desires a deeper relationship with you, cultural expectations pale significantly in comparison.

What is it that I believe? What do I stand for? How do I live it? In what ways can I serve? Most importantly, who is the reason I’m seeking answers to these questions, and how do I know Him? Really know Him? This is the ultimate purpose of my gap year. To make use of the space, take time to listen, step back and learn who my Jesus really is.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11