As humans, we’re riddled with the impulse and longing to control our surroundings, relationships, and outcomes. Control is the sticky lie that promises that, if we work hard enough, we can avoid suffering; it’s the soothing ointment we long to cover our past wounds and fears with; it’s the enticing bait that leads us astray, hollows out our resilience, and betrays our trust.
As a family, we’re talking about the dichotomy of surrender versus control. In reality, most of us live in the tension between grappling for control and living in self-abandoned trust. But what if we gave into that brave, dangerous, heroic life of unbridled trust in the triune God?
In the gospels, Jesus reveals the nature of His Father to us. We meet a Father full of grace, whimsy, delight, and passion. Contrary to what we expect, God is neither oppressive nor controlling. Instead, Jesus declares His Father to be entirely prone to honor and restoration. Even more, He’s a Father who bestows love and favor far before it can ever be earned.
To lean into a life of surrender, we need to know the One we’re surrendering to.
God is in the business of valuing us and loving us. Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? Yet not one of these is forgotten before my Father. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7). God, as defined by His Son, deeply loves us. He numbers our hairs, He knows us, He does not, cannot, forget us. While our impulse to protect ourselves from pain may dismiss these facts as wishful thinking, we need not succumb to that lie anymore. Illustrated by Jesus and proven in the cross, the love of God knows no shadow of alteration, no requirements, and no end. This we can trust.
God is not manipulative. On earth, we’re taught the harsh narrative of karma, leading us to fearful mistrust of ourselves and anger towards an unpredictable higher power. However, the true God does not manipulate outcomes based on our actions. Instead, Jesus exposes God’s way of doing things in Mark’s gospel like this, “for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” God’s goodness is not restrained or restricted based on who we are or what we’ve done. Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” This we can trust.
We long to become a people with practical trust in the loving care of God under whatever pressure, and to say, along with Jesus, “into your hands I commit my spirit!” Surrender is heroic, daring, and risky. It requires the death of preference and pride. Manning says, “This kind of trust is acquired only gradually and most often through a series of crises and trials.” It’s okay for the process to be messy and gruesome. We can’t avoid that. But we’ll continue to learn the art of surrender together, step by step. This we can trust.