June 25, 2008

Perfect Surrender

2008 1518 page31 capave you ever felt as if God owed you a favor? As though it was payback time? Because you had spent the past many years giving God your best, it now was time for Him to give you exactly what you wanted?
Well, I have.
When I was about 7 years old, my parents, younger sister, and I were serving as overseas missionaries. This was during the time when missionaries returned home on furlough, or vacation, every two to four years, and those months in between stretched long and far. The only way we could go back home to visit relatives any sooner was if we paid for our own airline tickets—an expense that rarely could be afforded on a missionary family’s small budget.
But one day my dad found airline tickets for just the right dates at an affordable price. I was so excited I immediately began mentally packing my suitcase as my parents called home to share the good news with family. Then the blow fell.
“We can’t go. We just found out that the price of the tickets is for only one way, so we won’t be able to afford it,” my dad told us. Even now, so many years later, I can still feel the bitter disappointment. And at the age of 7, I blamed God.
2008 1518 page31Fast-forward to my senior year of high school. My family had moved again, and we were well settled into our lives in a new country as veteran missionaries. My sister and I decided to attend an Adventist boarding academy several countries away. Some of our friends were going to school there, and I was excited about a new adventure. Once again, I began mentally to pack my bags.
The summer before we planned to leave, however, our family returned home for vacation. While there, my grandparents turned on the television one evening and saw horrendous crimes being committed in the capital city of the country in which we were planning to attend school. They anxiously advised us to cancel our plans to attend academy there. Once again I was greatly disappointed. And at the age of 18, I blamed God.
It’s all God’s fault, I thought. Every time a dream appears just within my reach, He snatches it away.
These two experiences were not the only times I blamed God when things didn’t go the way I thought they should have, when my dreams seemed to crumble with the setting sun. I didn’t know whether I could trust God—and I didn’t want to try. That is, until He began to teach me the lesson of perfect surrender.
“Perfect surrender” means giving up all claims on what I personally believe I have a right to have. It means saying, “I am willing, Lord, to accept Your best for my life and to trust that Your best is better than I can imagine.” To surrender perfectly means to surrender completely, wholly, and fully—to hold nothing back from God and allow Him absolute control over your life. It is only then that God can work amazing miracles for us.
“How do I do that?” you might ask, because often we persist in trying to make our own dreams come true in our own timing. But actually, it’s easier than it seems. All it requires is a willing heart.
An age-old Bible text reminds me: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28, 29, NASB).*
Twenty years after I first learned to blame God, I am just beginning to learn how to surrender. Perfect surrender is not an immediate achievement. Neither does it come as a result of my having worked enough and learned enough and tried hard enough to become perfect. It comes, rather, as a gift from a Father who truly cares about me.
Perfect surrender will take a lifetime to fully attain. Yet each facet of learning to surrender is worth the effort as we continue on the pathway toward heaven and toward perfect surrender in Him.
*Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
When she wrote this, Maria Lombart was the registrar of Weimar College in California.