A few months ago, our church was singing the hymn, “I Surrender All.” As I sang the words, I reflected on some of the times I had sung the song from my grade school years, to junior high school, to high school, college and after college. I asked myself if I really had meant those words throughout the decades that I had been singing the hymn. Here is a link for the lyrics. (By the way, I didn’t know until now that there were so many verses! I didn’t recognize the 3rd and 5th verses shown on this link. Perhaps the churches where I had been a member chose not to include those verses due to the theological content.)
That Sunday morning, I realized that I had intended to surrender all of my life during the previous years. However, there had been areas of my life that I didn’t realize I was still expecting to manage on my own. For example, when I was in high school and college, I was willing to serve the Lord whole-heartedly in my life, but I didn’t realize that I was only willing to serve Him joyfully in certain roles. I imagined my life would turn out a certain way after college, and I didn’t even realize that I was adding those reservations to my “surrendering all.” I only discovered that I had had those reservations when God didn’t allow for my life to follow the exact plan I had in mind. My severe disappointment showed me that I had originally planned to “surrender all” only under certain circumstances!
Disappointments, difficulties and trials of various levels of pain show me areas of my life that need to change. I know from Hebrews 12:4-11 that the difficult times orchestrated or allowed by God are not to punish me, but to train me for my good. The emotion of disappointment helped me to understand how my desire to serve God in certain ways had become a god in itself to me. I realized that it was possible to make a god out of what I thought my calling in life should be.
I have found that as I meditate on God’s character and what He has done throughout history, especially with respect to His work to redeem a people for Himself, I experience more joy and peace. Rather than spending time and energy wondering why this or that is (or isn’t) happening in my life, I can choose to thank God for His saving work in my life. I can trust Him since He is good and because He is at work for my good, and His plan is best.
You can click on the reference for each verse to see the context for the verse at www.BibleGateway.com.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.