Sometimes a trial comes when we least expect it. Mine came this past spring. I was being used mightily by God teaching a Bible study. I was experiencing God’s anointing, listening to His voice,and walking in obedience. I was surrendered to His will for my life and willing to do anything for Him. I was abandoned to God and perfectly positioned for Him to use me with power. God had me in His bulls eye, but so did the devil.
The devil is terrified of a soul that is surrendered to God. So he attempted to take me down with confrontation, rejection, and hurt. My sweet little sensitive self didn’t handle this very well, and it led to four agonizing months of struggle. This trial ultimately moved me from a position of utter surrender to a position of sheer survival.
Can you relate? Are you in a season of surviving, just doing what it takes to make it from one day to the next? Are you surviving the wearisome years of mothering small children? Are you surviving the desertion of your husband and the subsequent bitterness of divorce? Perhaps you are surviving chronic pain or disease. Or maybe you are in a struggle with depression or panic attacks. Are you desperately trying to hang on to hope?
Now that I’m coming out of my four month journey into the wilderness, I can see things more clearly. During this season of survival, I was focused on preserving myself and surviving rather than surrender to God. I can see that I did this in a variety of ways.
First of all, I fed my flesh. When my heart hurts, I want to eat. And I don’t want to eat a salad, I want to go to Chick-Fil-A and have a #1 with French fries and sweet iced tea. I ate out a lot with my sweetheart, Brian. I ate a lot of cookies…especially those yummy Panera Bread iced shortbread cookies. One a day kept the doctor away. I found whatever food made my heart happy, and I devoured it.
Secondly, I distracted my mind. My heart hurt so much that just to relax around the house was painful. So I watched entire series on NetFlix or Amazon Prime, entertaining my mind so that I could not feel the pain in my heart. I spent a lot of time in my bed, under my electric blanket, whiling the time away reading romance novels. I made lots of trips to Hobby Lobby and Belk to shop – they call that “retail therapy.” But when the car would pull into the garage from my big shopping excursions, my heart would sink, feeling the pain again.
Third, I fell into sin. My flesh was in control and it ruled the roost. I cussed. I was sharp with my husband. I let the sun go down on my anger. The Holy Spirit was not leading me but rather my flesh. I’m so glad that you could not see what I was like on the inside.
Lastly, I defended myself. Late at night when I couldn’t sleep, I would rehearse the things I wanted to say to those who had hurt me. And they were not kind – they were downright mean. Hurtful. Vindictive. I was a sharp lawyer – both the defense lawyer defending myself and the prosecution, laying charges against my enemies. God says “Vengeance is mine” but I was taking matters into my own hands, at least in my thoughts.
Could I have done it better? I don’t know. My goal was survival…whatever it took to make it through. Survival included continuing to care for my family and home. It including being present in relationships and allowing others to lean on me, weak that I was. Survival involved resisting the voice that told me to quit my ministry: leading, teaching, mentoring, and writing this blog. It even included evading feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.
But sadly, survival cost me my surrender. During these months that my focus was on myself, it was not on God. I needed His help, but I was not laying down my life before Him, asking Him to use me. I was not loving and serving others as Jesus would. I was not “counting all things as loss” as Paul did. Because in survival, it was all about me. In surrender, it is all about God.
I think this was the devil’s plan all along…to move my focus from surrender to God to the survival of me. God vs. me. Survival vs. surrender. I’m finally back on the road to surrender, hoping to make up for lost time. I’m thankful for the grace of God that loved me through my season of self and survival.
If you are in the midst of a trial, it’s okay if you are doing what it takes to survive and function and live through it. But don’t forget about your surrender. Don’t get so tied up in preserving yourself that you omit serving God. Don’t sacrifice your surrender on the altar of survival.
Take a moment right now and surrender to God once again. Let your goal be survival AND surrender.
What about you….are you in a season of surrender or survival? Send me an email or leave me a comment and let me know.