This guest post is part of the Good Ways blog series, a collection of stories and practices for finding God in hardship.
It’s all I have left, stained beyond recovery, shredded and almost formless I wave the white rag above my head and cry out in my distress, “Jesus, I surrender, have mercy on me and save me.”
At nine years old I overcame dyslexia and learned to read. At last, I could read like the other kids. I didn’t feel any less stupid, but at least no one could tell I was stupid. In college I discovered that even though I was stupid, I could outwork the other kids and get good grades. If I just battled hard enough, I could overcome whatever was in front of me. If I overcame, then people might like me. Maybe they wouldn’t notice how inadequate and pitiful I was. That belief metastasized into my spiritual life and I began to believe that God would reward me for my labors – especially if they were in his service! In my heart I said, “God, I got it now, I’ll take it from here.”
A decade after college, I partnered with a good friend and started a non-profit to help widows, orphans and sojourners. I was earning my white robe, a veil to disguise how disfigured I felt on the inside. But God loved me too much to let me continue in blindness. He used the greatest crisis of my life to bring me to a point of complete breakdown, where everything I thought about myself and about him was broken apart.
An inappropriate relationship landed my friend in jail, ended our ministry, wreaked havoc on our unsuspecting church and destroyed any good we’d done in the lives of the people that we worked with. In the middle of the worst of it all I remember lying on the floor sobbing and crying out to Jesus for mercy over and over again. That white robe I’d worked so hard for was revealed as nothing more than a dirty rag. I was forced to look fully at my life and I hated what I saw. I saw how I’d failed to stand for truth, failed to be obedient to God’s leading, I saw a coward and a hypocrite. I spent that entire night sleeping for a few minutes at a time and then waking up and crying out to Jesus again for help, for hope, to show up and save me. And he did.
Three years have passed since the worst night of my life. God unveiled that even though my sin and inadequacy are despairingly deep, his grace and love are marvelously deeper. The greatest grace he has given me has been my beautiful wife, an amazing woman of faith.
So after three years, am I set? Not at all. God is interested in far more than pulling me out of crisis and disaster. When I surrendered my life to him he set out to bring about true healing. God healed my whole being and spiritually, emotionally and physically transformed me.
As I surrender my fears over to God a strange physical transformation occurs. To illustrate, I always wondered how people went up and down stairs without staring at their feet. Even though I tried to look up, my eyes stayed locked on that next step. Over time I discovered that my pelvis had been locked up, as if I was trying to walk around in a fetal position. I realized that through this posture I’d been trying to protect myself from the judgement of others. What an amazing reminder of the grace of God as I go up the stairs at work and see the faces rather than the feet of the people I pass.
For me, the process looks like this: recognition, confession and finally surrender. Today as I drove to work I could feel my morning coffee a little too strongly, and it dawned on me that it wasn’t a nice caffeine buzz I was feeling, instead I was anxious about an e-mail I had to write. “God, I gotta admit, I’m a little scared about this e-mail.” I confessed out loud. By the time I exited the freeway I had begun to let go of my anxiety and surrender in faith to the goodness of my God.
I find trust in God to be less a product of my will and strength, rather it is a surrender of what I’m holding onto. As I have acknowledged the goodness of his character, his love and his grace, he has literally straightened my physical being and brought incredible spiritual and relational healing to my life. What an amazing and awesome God we have!
An Invitation to Practice Surrender
What are you worried about? What is it that you hold onto when God calls you to trust him? What do you need to acknowledge of his goodness and character?
When you feel worried, try this prayer: God, I am worried about _____. Help me to remember that you are _____.
David and his wife Rebecca live in Boise, ID with their feline compadre Kiddo. The three of them enjoy coffee, Netflix and bacon. Find him on Instagram: @dekuhlrov