Surrender Makes Me Brave
Today, I opened a book I had purchased a few months ago at a writers’ conference. The author had scribbled out my name and underneath, “Be Brave.”
I’ve been struggling with that lately. So I laughed. I may have almost snorted out my almond milk hot chocolate.
There’s only one way I know how to be brave. And it comes via surrender.
Early weekday mornings, I drag myself downstairs, grab the thick reference Bible that belonged to my Grandpa, and curl up under a fuzzy white blanket on the living room couch. Across from me, my half-asleep 16-year-old Taiwanese exchange daughter, Ruby, grabs the other end of the blanket and sits with her Bible.
A couple months ago, Ruby asked me if I could read some of the Bible with her. We chose the Gospel of Luke- a book that traces Jesus’ ministry on Earth. I tell myself I’m there to encourage Ruby.
I think I’m the one getting the encouragement.
Merriam-Webster says “encourage” means to “inspire with courage, spirit, or hope.”
I’m learning to receive courage when I pause.
You see, having an intentional quiet time with Jesus Christ is making me braver.
Loving him and loving others has a tendency to drive out fear.
As a friend reminded me earlier this week, there is no fear in love. (1 John 4:18)
But it’s hard to be brave when you don’t pause to invest time.
It’s easy to do a million other things. It’s easy to put off what really matters.
And even a good friend, a best friend, can feel far away when we don’t make intentional time for that relationship.
I like to think I talk to and about Jesus often. Throughout my day. Here and there. It’s great and I hope he thinks so too. But sometimes it feels like my marriage: if we don’t spend quality, intentional, time together, I begin to feel an ache for real intentional connection.
Interestingly enough, the Gospels record that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. Even he, the Son of God, who was constantly ministering, healing people, and talking about his Father needed intentional connection time.
And because of the early morning quiet time with Ruby, lately, I find myself investing in more intentional time with my Savior.
Ruby and I read just a story or two. And then we pause. And we try to make sense of what we’ve just read. We ask simple questions, explore other books in the Bible, and sometimes, I’ll read what the Bible experts have noted in the reference section at the bottom of the pages. We’ll sometimes pray that God would give us insight throughout the day.
Often, I get excited, thinking of how the story we’ve just read corresponds with something in the Old Testament or another Gospel. Or I’ll see something I’ve never noticed.
Reading through scripture like this, exploring with someone who maybe has never heard these stories before, feels a bit like discovering it for the first time.
This morning, we read in Luke, Chapter 9. Where Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it…”
Then we paused.
And I learned something new this morning when I looked at the study notes. Jesus saying, “whoever loses his life for me” is a phrase found in all four Gospels. I didn’t know that. And in two of the Gospels it is shared more than once. The study note goes on to say, “No other saying of Jesus is given such emphasis.”
In other words, surrender is a major theme of following after Jesus.
I don’t’ know about you, but I often forget.
In the crazy of the day-to-day- cleaning spaces, running around, driving places, eating, juggling schedules and appointments…
I forget to surrender.
I forget to pause my time.
I forget to love.
I forget what’s really important.
And today, as I was driving to drop off my youngest daughter for preschool, I saw a street sign I’d never noticed before, a sign for “Leisure Lane.”
Now that sounded like heaven.
And I got to thinking, if I’m being really honest, sometimes the reward at the end of the day isn’t spiritual, it isn’t intentional, it has nothing to do with Jesus or his call for surrender… The reward is dreaming of a big vacation somewhere, bingeing on Amazon Prime movies, social media scrolling, or a big bowl of chocolate ice cream.
John Piper wrote a book called, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” In it, he shares a story of a sign in his childhood home that impacted him. It said something along the lines of “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Is that true?
I mean, I don’t know about you friends, but I don’t live like that most of the time.
But yet, in reading about Jesus and his ministry, I’d say, that’s exactly the kind of living he talks about- the kind where we trust him, surrender our lives and live for him- daily.
A life that pauses to remember what’s most important and follows the direction he’s leading every day.
And that kind of life- it’s not about rules or religion. It’s not about “I should do this” or “I have to do that.” It’s surrendered out of love, not obligation. It’s because drawing near to Christ, beckons us to a love relationship deeper than anything the world could ever offer- better than a bowl of chocolate ice cream, or the best world trip, or the best romance, or the best whatever…
Sure those things are enjoyable.
But they’re nothing compared to the love God has for us.
And his love moves us to surrender. To let go. To be brave.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
I don’t know what surrender looks like for you.
For me, it’s a struggle of laying down my dreams. It’s a wrestling over preconceived notions of what my life and career would look like. It’s my worries. It’s my insecurities. It’s my past. It’s my schedule. It’s my time.
These days, it’s also sometimes my sleeping in.
When we let go, when we lose our lives, it’s life-giving. It’s actually pretty mind-blowing amazing. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The more we actually obey his commands because we love him? The more we actually want to surrender all.
He gives us life.
He gives us truth.
He gives us the way.
He makes us brave.
“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine”
Oceans song lyrics by Hillsong UNITED