Usually the Unraveling Grace series happens on the last Thursday of each month, but I have invited more friends to guest post and am now hosting it more frequently. Today’s writer and I have several things in common: we both have visions for camping ministry and we are both dreamers. It was fun to share Celeste Barnard’s Brave Journal as part of the Stay the Course Series on God-sized Dreams. And it is a joy to host her today as she shares about a sticky word called, surrender.
Celeste Barnard is originally from Northern California, she and her Texas husband have been in ministry and married for almost 17 years. Together, they have 3 kids and a fat, little Pug named Latte. She is a writer and speaker who believes God does not waste one ounce of our pain- our stories are redeemed for His glory. She also is passionate about women being brave, because when we’re brave we give others permission to be brave too. You can find her devotional, Reflections, and her latest project, the Be Your Best Brave Journal on Amazon. You can also connect with her at celestebarnard.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or you can listen to her ‘Be Your Best Brave’ Podcasts on iTunes.
Getting a Grip by Loosening It
I was sitting in the pews, feeling alone, yet surrounded by several hundred people. My life, up until that moment, was filled with pain and disappointment. I tried to do everything in my own strength, but found myself broken a little more each day.
But on this particular night I was given an invitation to surrender my heart and life to Jesus. I remember tears streaming down my face, my heart beating wildly, and I ran. I ran to the altar. I sobbed like a child, and I surrendered.
Surrender: To yield to the power of another; to give or deliver up possession of (anything).
From that moment on, my life has been a series of surrenders. None quite that dramatic, but all have altered who I am in some way.
The Lord asked me to surrender my party lifestyle because He had a better way, so I surrendered that way of living to Him.
He asked me to surrender my life in California to go to Bible College and learn what it meant to follow Him, so I went.
Not every surrender has been easy. As a matter of fact, there’s been quite a few where I fought Him (as if I knew better).
When my husband and I lived in Irving, Texas, we felt called to move to Colorado. I know many of you are thinking moving to Colorado doesn’t sound like much of a surrender! But it wasn’t easy. When you move from living close to family—the only support you’ve known as a young mom—the unknown can be scary.
We lived in Colorado for 5 ½ years and I was incredibly thankful we didn’t settle for comfortable but took a step of faith and moved there. I loved living there and thought I might live there forever. It was in Colorado that I made some of the closest friends and was blessed by a body of believers that knew how to love our family well; they became family.
Then God called us to Brownsville, Texas. And at first, I kicked and screamed, and cried (for real). “Lord, there must be some mistake. Surely, you have the wrong people.” But He had dreams for us that we had no idea about.
This particular surrender broke my heart because it meant leaving behind a piece of me that I knew I couldn’t come back for. But I knew that whatever He had for us was going to be far better than anything I tried to hold on to.
Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open. -Corrie Ten Boom.
When the Lord wants us to surrender something it’s not because He’s on a power trip or likes to watch us squirm. His heart towards us is good and pure. He knows those things that have control of us that we need to let go of. He knows what needs to happen to build our character and move us forward into our destiny.
In Genesis 22:1-14 God asked Abraham to surrender His only son. How could He do that? Didn’t He remember how long Abraham and Elizabeth had waited to have a child? As Abraham was about to obey God and kill his only son, the Lord interjected, “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (vs. 12).
God wants to know if we’ll surrender and follow Him no matter what. He wants to know if He’s more important than our dreams, our house, our stuff, our ministries- or have any of these things become more important than God (an idol)?
Here’s what I’ve learned along my twenty-two year journey since my first surrender in those pews:
God can be trusted.
There are things we may never know about what He’s protecting us from.
He promises that He’ll walk through this with us.
He has something far greater than anything we try to hold on to.
There is a blessing in surrender.
James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Whatever He’s doing in your life, surrender it to Him; He’s got this.
Click here and listen as we let go.
One step at a time,
Is there an area in your life that God’s asking you to surrender?
Has past surrender been hard? Why or why not?
P.S. Get caught up on the Unraveling Grace series here:
January: Hurts, Hope and Healing by Jennifer Watson
February: For the One Who Doubts God’s Sovereignty by Abby McDonald
March: Beating Inflating Fears by Kelly Balarie
April: When Life Unravels and You’re Barely Hanging On by Bethany Huff and Function in Chaos by Renee Griffin
May: Not that “Be Still” Thing Again! by Amy Dalke