Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven, as well as on many other national and regional radio and television programs. She is a contributor to Zondervan’s NIV Bible for Women and writes at LaurieCoombs.org. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their three daughters.
Surrender, I hear over and over. Surrender, my child. I try––time and again, I try––but I fail.
Full of frustration and defeat, I cry out with one simple word––how?
I will work surrender in you. God whispers. Lay down what you have to offer, and I will work the rest.
I pray as I’ve been taught––Lord, I am willing that you make me willing to surrender in absolute surrender––because after all, many of us are willing in concept, but when the realities of surrender encroach upon our self-centered desires, willingness begins to wane.
For close to a month now, I have prayed and prayed and prayed for God to work absolute surrender in me with confident assurance that God can and will perform His work in me. And He is. He is working. But anytime we pray audacious prayers such as these, we must be prepared for what’s to come.
“Be careful what you pray for,” I’ve heard many say.
Pray for patience, and you will be given trials––the soil in which patience grows.
Pray for God to work surrender in you, and you’ll be asked to surrender that which you most love––to yield all to God.
Like Abraham, God asks every one of us to lay down that which we most love. That which threatens to overshadow God, Himself. But oftentimes––as was the case with Isaac––God isn’t looking to deprive us of the greatest gift He has bestowed upon us. But instead, He simply wants us to be willing to place Him above all else.
When we pray for God to grow our character, God often––if not always––provides difficult circumstances to test our faith and character––circumstances that can result in growth if we allow them to. But there are many Christians today, who are leery of God and of praying prayers that can possibly disrupt their comfort. But ultimately, comfort is not what we ought to be seeking, and the desire for comfort should never trump our desire for the will of God in our lives.
I believe it is God’s will for us to seek after righteousness. And I know Jesus is our righteousness, but I also believe God wants to work in us. To break us of all self-will that we might become more and more like Jesus.
As Ann Voskamp points out toward the end of her book One Thousand Gifts, we must go lower––always lower––to attain anything worthy, anything of value.
We must submit ourselves to God.
We must humble ourselves before Him.
We must draw near to Him, and earnestly seek after His will for our lives––not our own.
And to do this, all God asks is that we offer what little we have––what little effort, what little resolve, what little willingness we have––and He will do the rest. God will work in us the moment we begin to lay down what we have to offer. God accepts our offer and faithfully multiplies it.
We see this truth exemplified over and over in Scripture.
When a widow told Elijah she and her son would die of starvation after using the last of the flour and oil she had, Elijah asked her to offer what little she had to bake bread for the three of them promising that God would not let her flour or oil run dry if she did so. The widow complied, and God multiplied her resources and sustained she and her son’s lives.
When Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, He asked the servants to take jars and fill them with water. Jesus took what they had offered and turned the water into wine, working His first public miracle.
When Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves to feed the 5000, He asked the people to gather whatever food they had. It wasn’t much, but he took what they had offered and multiplied it to feed the masses.
In each of these instances, God’s people were asked to lay down what little they had. They were asked to surrender what they could. And in the wake of their surrender, God moved. He worked and accomplished the impossible.
Jesus tells us “what is impossible with man is possible with God,” and I believe absolute surrender is something we cannot do within ourselves (Luke 18:27). But when we lay down what little we have––saying, “All for you, my Lord”––it is then that we will see God work. It is then that we will see Him accomplish the impossible.
Comfort is nothing compared the miracles we will see God accomplish in and through us as we live our lives in absolute surrender! So, let us lay it down. Lay it all down to the glory of God and to our own joy.