For the past few months I have been on a hiatus from writing but certainly not from God working on me to make me into what He wants me to be. While I have been away, I have spent time reflecting on the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt to the promised land. and as I have read through their stories, the weight of being a sojourner here on earth has not been lost on me. As I grapple with where I am in life, where I have been, and my role on this stage of life, in contrast with the stories of the Israelites, there are two principles that have resonated with me: surrender and obedience.
Throughout the sojourn of the Israelites, God asked that they loved, served and obeyed Him. And what made the likes of Moses and Joshua successful in obeying God while most of the Israelites struggled was surrender. Surrender is the answer to our commitment to intimacy and obedience to God. Our intimacy does not come from where God has placed us or what He has given us. If that were the case, the Israelites of old would have been the most surrendered people. Surrender is a choice we have to make everyday; an active choice and not a passive happening.
Matthew 25 speaks to a parable that Jesus told and while there are many lessons to draw from this parable, today this parable highlights what active surrender looks like. In this parable, a man goes on a long journey but before he does so, he entrusts his wealth to his servants according to their abilities. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two and to yet another one bag. Two of the servants understood that everything they had been given had to be surrendered to the will of their master and so they made a choice to invest the gold. The last servant took a more passive approach and instead of discerning the will of his master, buried his one bag of gold in the ground. He held on so tightly to what he had been given, unwilling to allow any transformation to happen with his bag of gold and he missed out completely in the end (Matthew 25:14- 30 paraphrased).
What are you holding on to so tightly? What have you buried so deep that you are unwilling to allow God to bring transformation and change to? What remains unsurrendered to the Master’s will? For me it has been my hurts and disappointments in people and circumstances, my time and my schedule, my abundance and my needs, my identity, my family, and my education. There have been many aspects of these areas of my life that I have held so tightly to my own way and I have been unwilling to surrender these parts. Like the servant that hid his bag of gold, I have tried to keep these areas under my own control. God has been teaching me to let go and surrender these parts to His leadings. Like the servants who had five and two bags of gold respectively ended up with better outcomes than they started off with, so will many things in my life have better outcomes if only those areas are surrendered to God. For starters, most of my strivings will cease and God will truly be exalted in my life (Psalm 46:10).
But here is the caveat: surrender and obedience walk hand-in-hand. Without obedience, one cannot be fully surrendered and without surrender one cannot wholeheartedly obey. I pray that in whatever God is calling you to obedience and surrender that you will have a heart that is inclined to listen and at accordingly and as you do so that transformation happen to the five bags of gold or the two bags of gold in your life for the glory of God.