We have been talking about surrender again, in small groups and conversations….this same topic coming up again and again in different ways until even the most unobservant could see the theme weaving into our growth. And we wonder why it is so difficult to just give up the reins and let God lead us, as we shake our heads over the murky depths of our hearts.
It is maybe too simplistic to say that hearts are just hard and stubborn, or that we want to do things ourselves. No, it’s not that black and white at all. It’s more a complex shade of survival instinct laced through with gray disappointments, and feeling instinctively our smallness in a universe we cannot control. We can’t seem to help ourselves in building hedges of self-protection….If I am the only one I can trust to pursue my own good, then goodness knows I would build a whole kingdom to protect me and mine..
Like this random unimportant soldier in the battle of Jericho, who clearly heard God’s instructions to give all the precious metals to Him and destroy the rest. The God who had been leading them in one miraculous way after another was now giving them a whole new land to live in, and everything they needed, in abundance. It was an exciting, jaw-dropping time to be alive and walking by faith. And all God asked for was their obedience. But no, this one man– who walked through the Jordan River on dry ground while the water piled up on either side, mind you, and then walked miles around the city of Jericho until the walls just fell in on themselves– this man looked at the beautiful treasures within the city and couldn’t bring himself to give them up.
So Achan grabbed all the riches he could carry, and scurried home to hide them… buried it all in the ground beneath his tent, a shiny secret that separated him from his friends and neighbors with its weight. I can be scornful of his careless disobedience until I remember that he was, after all, a child of the desert wanderings. Child of slaves who died homeless, with nothing beyond what they could carry, and depending on the mercy of God for their daily bread new every morning, and no way to store up for future needs. Achan had grown up a nomad in the wilderness, waiting for the promise of home and prosperity to come true.
And can I fault him for grabbing onto what he could do for himself, when the allure of abundance was finally within reach? I can almost feel that clutching insecurity in his chest, and the fierce determination that he and his would never be needy again. How am I any different when I grasp onto whatever is beautiful right in front of me, the sure provision for the fears that I feel? It’s really not a matter of hard-headed rebellion, so much as a scarcity of trust.
Strange how it’s sometimes easier to depend on God in a crisis, when you know you haven’t got what it takes to conquer a city or cross a raging river. Maybe that’s when you know for sure that you need some supernatural help to make it through? Yet at the next unexpected situation you find that trust comes hard, and it can be so easy to reach out and take what you want for yourself against the insecurity of an uncertain future. Trust was damaged irrevocably in the Fall, our hearts wounded by the lie that it’s all up to us, and since then we’ve discovered that fear is a relentless slavedriver. Surrendering our sense of control in life is the last thing we want to do in the everyday, with the Enemy’s whispers still targeting our deepest fears: Did God really say that? What if He is holding you back from something good?
But the same God that makes a way through the high waters is the One who Hagar named “El Roi– the God who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13) God knew Achan…had been there at every birth in his household, knew how many mouths there were to feed. God had watched over Achan and his brothers and cousins and sons as they went to battle their enemies, and had brought them safe home each time. And the Lord God who made the fortified walls of Jericho fall in on a shout, says “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8) The Creator who made the sun stand still at Joshua’s request, keeps His eye on the daisies and the sparrows and gives them what they need. Achan could trust God’s promise to bless them in that land and make them prosper. And I need to remember what God has done and trust Him for the needs in my life, too. Surrender only becomes difficult when we listen to the wrong voices and forget who God is.
It’s beginning to crystallize that the more we know Him, the more we can trust Him, and the easier it is to surrender to His rule. And knowing Him grows from the time we spend with Him. The more often I encounter God in the pages of His Story, and see Him working out His plans, the more I understand His heart. The more I hear His words and read His promises and plans for me, the more I experience his hope and encouragement. And when I honestly pour out my own heart to Him, and feel His presence, see Him at work in my life, trust grows naturally. It is easy to surrender to Someone that you love more than life.
The security that answers fear is found in relationship: knowing the One who takes care of me, and being so sure of His goodness, faithfulness, and ability to provide that nothing can shake me.
**You can read the story of Achan’s disobedience in Joshua 7:10-25.
What if every circumstance—every part of your journey with Christ—was meant to do more than set you up for future “success”?…God really is after our hearts. He cares more about us knowing who He is than how easy or comfortable our journey is.Ruth Chou-Simons
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—PSALM 121:5-8
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.