Once we have surrendered our lives to God, we enter onto a journey which I call the 10,000 Surrenders. It is a journey in which we are constantly having to offer our resistance up to God and as we do that, he is healing us of the fight within us. Every time our expectations of what life should be for us, every time our assumptions about life are challenged, every time our desires are thwarted—we are experiencing the difference between what the world wants for us and what God wants for us. And it’s at that conjunction that we need to surrender to God’s will.
I should explain where the metaphor 10,000 surrenders came from. Every day, it seems, for the last 30 years since I surrendered my life to the Lord, I have had to surrender my objections to what is in my life many times in order to be back in relationship with God. And so 10,000 is a huge number which expresses to me the endless times I will have to give up my world-conditioned will to align myself with God’s will.
My spouse didn’t do what I wanted him to do… my child did poorly on a test in school… my two-year-old is biting other children… the car ahead of me is slowing me down… the promotion I’ve been lobbying for went to someone else … the weather isn’t what I wanted … the list is endless. Every time we find ourselves in resistance to what is—the weather, human nature, unmet expectations– that’s a call to surrender. It’s not that what we want is wrong, although that’s probably true in God’s eyes, it’s more that we are not accepting what is in our lives right now. If we stay in resistance to what is before us, we are holding onto the past, so we cannot hear what God is saying to us at all today in this moment.
It’s the rebel in us that has to die 10,000 deaths before s/he is done. The reason that the Israelites wandered 40 years in the wilderness was so that the whole rebellious generation would die off. Even Moses died before crossing the Jordan; then the Israelites led by Joshua and Caleb, who had never rebelled against God, crossed the Jordan into the “Promised Land.” If we take a good close look at the Exodus story, it is a template for our journey of faith with God. The first part of the story is following God’s chosen leader, Moses, out of Egypt which represents the world—that is our first and the major surrender, following God’s inner direction. At God’s call we “leave” the place of slavery in us. It is a difficult leave-taking because we are so attached to the world even though it enslaves us.
In the second part between Egypt and Mt. Sinai we are in limbo, out of our depth in a strange land, following God’s lead, eating strange food, depending on Moses to find fresh water sources. We can easily see God helping us negotiating the way through a pillar of cloud during the day and pillar of fire at night.
It’s at the end of the second part of the Exodus story that the Israelites construct Baal as Moses lingers high on Mt. Sinai with God, that God sees that the rebelliousness of the Israelites will not work in the “Promised Land.” So he hands down laws over the course of four books of the Bible—Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. And every time the people cry, “we need a leader who will take us back to Egypt!” where life was good for us, the rebels die from a plague, from fire, illness, or they are killed by other Israelites, etc. Finally, when the whole generation, the ones who preferred slavery in Egypt to traveling this unknown territory, that was led out of Egypt has died off,; the remainder was ready for the Promised Land.
Symbolically for us a good part of the journey led by God is about the death of rebellion in us. It is also about turning over every aspect of our lives, particularly the areas of guilt and shame, to God, so that he can transform us into the people he created us to be, free now of the world’s influence. It takes a long time, forty years in the Exodus story, for us to learn the new ways of the Promised Land, the kingdom in Jesus’ language.
Every time we surrender to life as it is before us, we draw closer to God. For every little surrender I make in traffic, the easier the next surrender is, and the more progress toward a deeper relationship with God proceeds. Every time I embraced what my husband and children wanted rather than what I wanted. Every time I give up my need/anxiety to be on time(I was well-trained by my parents!), I find peace and the grace to actually get there on time. Every time I surrender my will…I find God there with me.
10,000 surrenders…I found through 20 years of practicing with the small and medium surrenders in my life that I could surrender even to my husband’s death, a tsunami in my life. All that practice in surrendering up to that time meant that I was open to hearing God’s direction for me in the midst of that crisis, once I gave up my resistance to his being at the end of his life. Last week I wrote about my resistance and what God offered me. It was a phenomenal time for me when I learned that what truly mattered was God’s presence in my life and that he would take care of everything else.
To surrender totally to God in every circumstance is a difficult task for us humans. We can see in the Exodus story how inconstant the Israelites were. And so are we. I consider myself to be a slow learner: it’s taken me 30 years after my initial surrender to be where I am today. Practice, practice, practice with the little things and the big ones, too. Constantly turning over my will to his. Always inviting him in to transform all my guilt and shame. 10,000 surrenders works!
Questions to ponder over the week: Have I surrendered my life to God/Christ/the Holy Spirit? Am I practicing every day to surrender my resistance to what is before me? Will I follow the Lord wherever he leads me, surrendering all along the way? Do I recognize my own resistance when it arises in me? Do I know the outer signs that my body throws up to me? Do I know the mind games that constitute resistance in the mental arena?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who surrender daily our resistance to God. May we be the people of God who are willing to wherever he takes us, even when our culturally-conditioned minds say otherwise. May we be faithful followers of our God wherever he takes us, knowing that he always has our best interests at heart.
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!” is up on Amazon in paperback and kindle versions. Check it out under my full name, Patricia Said Adams or Patricia Adams, if you’re interested.
Also look on this FB page for 4 videos about the kingdom meant to complement the book.
Read the whole blog(and archives) at bythewaters.net or await Monday thru Friday’s offerings on FB. I’m on YouTube at By the Waters with Pat Adams or on Twitter at BTWwithPatAdams.