Obedience through Surrender // Jocelyn

As I’ve read and published the previous entries this semester [which has been an exciting joy each week!], I’ve been blown away and inspired at these stories of how the Lord has worked and moved. I found myself wishing I had more women like you to look up to when I was in college. Stories of surrender. Stories of heartbreak. Stories of insufficiencies and hope in Christ’s sufficiency. I couldn’t help but notice a theme:

Surrender.

Ew, scary word, right? In our culture of individualism and success and “you’re weak? what’s wrong with you? you better fix that”, we hear the word surrender and we instantly become that emoji in the purple shirt who has her arms crossed over her face. You know which one I mean.

I’m strong. There’s nothing wrong. I can do it on my own. I’m in charge of my own life.

And yet what I’ve seen in each of these stories is a posture of surrender. Giving up and giving over to the One who does have ultimate authority and strength.

Why isn’t surrendering easier for us? I think the reasons could be endless, but maybe one of them is we feel like God needs something more from us. We think He wants us to be sure to check the boxes. Behave. Try harder.

In our ladies’ Bible study at ODU this semester, we looked at the life of David. He messed up. A lot. The Lord had asked similar things of him and Saul during their individual times as king. Saul seemingly obeyed at times, but he also tried to do all of this extra stuff that he thought would appease God, rather than simply obeying what He originally said [see 1 Samuel 15 for the story].

David, on the other hand, sought the Lord for clarity on His commands, and continued to press on and trust the Lord even when he had his own doubts or when there were social pressures to do otherwise [see 1 Samuel 23:1-14]. And yes, David did mess up. He lusted, committed adultery, murdered, lied, etc. — but he acknowledged his sin. He had a repentant heart. He surrendered to the truth that he had sinned against God alone:

Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment. // Psalm 51:4

God knows that we’ll mess up. He knows that we’ll doubt Him. He knows that we’ll be scared at times. That’s why He tells us to come to Him to receive rest for our souls [Matt. 11:28-30]. It’s why He wants us to humble ourselves by casting our fears & cares on Him, the One who can care for them all [1 Peter 5:6-7, Philippians 4:6-7].

So what does God want? David knew:

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it. You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken spirit and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. // Psalm 51:15-17

In other words, God doesn’t want all of your good deeds in an effort to prove yourself. He wants you. He wants your heart. He wants your surrender.

We do think of surrender as weakness. As failure. It does involve giving up, but we find in Scripture that it is when we give up & surrender that we find rest. It’s counterintuitive, but isn’t that just like Scripture?! We have to renew our minds with these truths to fight against the things that we’re naturally bent toward in our flesh.

And it’s not too late to enter in to this kind of rest. That’s why the prophet Joel commanded the people regarding their repentance, “‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, return to Me with all your heart … and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster.”

Hebrews 3 & 4 give us this message repeatedly, too:
Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (3:8,15; 4:7)
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (3:13)
These words were given to the Hebrew people to prompt them to not be like their ancestors, who weren’t able to enter God’s promised rest because of their disobedience. The writer reminds them continually that Jesus is better.

It is by obeying that we enter God’s rest, and obeying involves surrender.

I would say this is what each of the ladies in this last series of posts came to the point of realizing, too.
How else is it that you’re able to trust in His sufficiency, give up your summer, give up your career plans, trust Him when He says no, enhance your prayer life, and have the assurance that He safe, sure, steady, and won’t leave you as you are, and therefore praise Him for all that He’s done?

We surrender our wills, our plans, our hearts, in exchange for His. We give up and give over.

How do we remind ourselves to continually surrender? How can we be enabled to do that?

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. // Hebrews 4:11-12

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the repeated prompt to enter God’s rest is followed by a statement about the power of His Word. Spending time with Him – immersing ourselves in His very words that He has given to us – is how we enter His rest. It’s how we’re led by Him “beside still waters” or “waters of rest” (Psalm 23:2). So I leave you with the same exhortation that Hebrews 3:13 talks about — Be obedient by surrendering to Him. Be honest about your sin, your emotions, and your need for Him. Give up and give over. Enter His rest and be nourished by Him.

Hi friends! ♡♡ I’m Jocelyn, and I run this blog alongside Brooke & Meg! I’m currently smack dab in my 4th year on staff with Cru, and I have the pleasure of working on the campuses of CNU + ODU.
I can be found obsessing over candles, fresh flowers, podcasts, and whatever current book I’m reading (which tends to be about 5 at a time – I’m trying to stop that). It brings me joy to create inviting spaces, and I love any excuse for a celebration.
Creating inviting spaces also includes spaces on social media, which means I loooove your interactions on our insta & this blog. I hope it continues to pursue a life of chasing Jesus!

From Plea to Praise // Rachel // ODU

Last year, 2 months after my grandfather passed away, I was sitting in church as they began to play the song “Hosanna” by Hillsong. Immediately I was hooked and could not get the song out of my head. I went home and sat in my room and listened to it on repeat as I began to pull out my guitar and start to learn how to play it. Almost a year later, the song has still been stuck in my head. Most people would be annoyed by his, however, I am glad it has stuck around. The song has brought me relief in the midst of this hard season.

You would think after listening to a specific song for a year that I would know a lot about it, but that wasn’t the case. I blindly sang, played, and listened to the song as it brought me comfort over the past year. Not once did I care to stop and think about what it really meant…until recently. Roughly a month ago, I pulled out my laptop and started to dive into what the word “hosanna” means. I wanted to know what the song was truly saying.

The word hosanna reminds me of the Chinese nesting dolls. You uncover one thing and start to think you are at the end… but not quite, because there is more to it! John Piper explains the word by saying this: “Our English word “hosanna” comes from a Greek word “hosanna” which comes from a Hebrew phrase hoshiya na.” The word itself has been on a journey throughout time!

In the Old Testament the word meant “Save us!” It was a cry for help. Fast forward to the New Testament, something happened along the way and the word began to mean “Salvation has come!” The meaning of the word has gone from plea to praise. Now what happened throughout the journey of the word hosanna for it to drastically change like that? If you said “Jesus” you are correct! Jesus is the reason that people took this word and altered it to be a praise instead of a plea.

Christ has done the same in my life today, he has taken my life from plea to praise. I accepted Christ into my life 2 years ago and everything started to change for the better! It has not been an easy 2 years though, many hard seasons have come my way and I tend to forget that I need Christ everyday, in every moment. Last year my discipler walked me through a book called “Hearing The Music Of The Gospel.” The more I read into the word hosanna, the more I am reminded of this book. The basis of the book is that we know the Gospel and are just going through the motions, we seem to know the choreography to the dance pretty well. Yet, we aren’t hearing the music. We read a passage and start to ask ourselves, “Okay what is this passage saying I need to do to be more like Christ?” Instead we need to read a passage and ask ourselves, “What spiritual brokenness is this passage revealing that only Christ can heal?”

When we first accept Christ we are overjoyed and excited to start making changes in our lives, but over time that feeling can dull down and we can forget to hear the music of the gospel. In moments where we can thank Christ for who he is and ask him for help to heal our spiritual brokenness, we tend to just pray for God to take away all of our problems. This may not be true for all of us, but it has been for me. Last year when I lost my grandpa, I kept praying for God to take away the pain I was feeling or to give me more time with my grandpa. I was crying out “Hosanna!” but I was living in the Old Testament and asking God to save me. Over the past year, I have moved from the Old Testament to the New Testament and learned to praise Christ for entering into my life and refining me during this hard season. Through Christ I have been able to learn to find joy in the midst of the hard seasons that life will bring. My “Hosanna” has turned from a plea to a praise.

Hi friends! My name is Rachel Titus and I am at the tail end of my time at ODU. I will be graduating in December and am excited and nervous to see what the Lord has planned for me next! I like to live by the saying “A little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.” But I switch it around to “A whole lot of coffee and a whole lot more of Jesus.” Thanks for reading! <3

For When I’m Not Enough… Which Is All the Time // Sarah // CNU

Sufficient: enough to meet the needs of a situation, fulfilling

All through high school, my English teachers told me not to start my essays by writing out the definition of a word. It was my staple item, my signature move; apparently, bad writing as well (if any of them are reading this, I am so sorry). But to me, defining a word sets the tone. It introduces the paper better than I ever could, which is why I am sitting on my couch trying to awkwardly create an introduction to one of the struggles God has consistently addressed in my life: insufficiency.

Back in February, I received a phone call from my dad that my grandfather had been taken to the hospital with multiple complications. The outcome was terminal, and my parents wanted us to come home as soon as possible to see him before he passed. Multiple thoughts ran through my head. He wouldn’t get to dance with me at my wedding like he always promised. He wouldn’t get to see me become a teacher or watch me start my own family. The man I had lived 10 miles from my whole life, the man who loved me and everyone around him so unconditionally, would be gone. I was devastated, again.

We all experience loss. Breakups, the end of friendships, death. I hate to be a downer, but it’s true. The world we live in is so imperfect and disappointing. Sure, we have great days, weeks, months, even years. But we all have moments that we wish would just go away. Getting teased in middle school for not being “popular”. Not getting into your dream school and having to re-plan the life you had created for yourself. Feeling inadequate when you don’t get your dream job. Losing one of your friends to a terminal illness. Hydroplaning your car into a tree at 60 MPH. Being told you’re not worth the effort of a relationship.

Receiving a phone call at 2 in the morning that your grandfather is gone and there’s nothing you can do.

I hate the feeling of weakness, vulnerability that I can do nothing about. I couldn’t stop the people I loved from suffering. I couldn’t stop my car from crashing into a tree. I couldn’t stop myself from entering into volatile relationships that were only going to destroy me. I couldn’t save my grandfather. Why?

Because I’m not enough. Because I’m not perfect. Because I’m not sufficient.

Because I need Christ.

The night before Grandpap passed away, I sporadically logged into my Tumblr account. Tumblr. Take that in for a second. Four years since the last time I had logged in. After sifting through posts from the impressionist movement and laughing at my love (obsession) for One Direction (Liam), I saw a Bible verse that I had posted my Sophomore year of high school.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I didn’t know that 4 hours after I read this, my parents would wake me up to tell me my grandfather was gone. As I sat in the living room of my dorm emotionally drained and exhausted, all I could think of was that verse. I was sitting in another disappointment, another hardship, another devastation. I was weak.

But Christ was strong. And His power rested upon me.

When we experience these times in our lives, we try to compensate for our lowliness, to fix things ourselves. It’s in our sinful nature, our human flaws. But we can do absolutely nothing without Christ. John 15:5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Apart from Him, nothing. With Him, everything.

Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” How amazing is it that Christ gave Himself for us, in our sin and brokenness to have life with Him? That he looked at us, undeserving of all He is, and chose us to be His. That we can go directly to Him with everything we have, for He is our Great High Priest, interceding for us daily.

We live our lives discouraged by our weakness when in reality, our weakness is our need for Christ.  Our weakness is His strength, and His strength becomes our own because He is sufficient.

There’s a song by Elevation Worship called “O Come to the Altar” (please please please check it out!!) that I started hearing almost everywhere when my grandfather was admitted to the hospital. There is so much beauty and truth in this song, but the part that has always stood out to me comes in the second verse. The lyrics say, “Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy, from the ashes a new life is born. Jesus is calling.

Jesus is calling you. Right here and now. In all your imperfections and sorrows, He is calling you to a new life in Him.

I don’t know who’s reading this, or what any of you that are have been looking for in your lives, but stop searching. Stop trying to be perfect. Stop tearing yourself down, saying you’re not good enough. Bring these sorrows and place them at the feet of Christ. He desires a relationship with you, he’s calling for your soul to be with Him. He desires to be enough for you, to fulfill you with joy. He desires to bring you the most abundant life there is. Sufficiency is something we search for every single day, and Christ alone can bring it into our lives. There is nothing more freeing than a full surrender to the Lord and trusting in Him for all.

God doesn’t promise us that our lives will get easier when we follow Him, but He does promise us that He will walk with us, work through us, and carry us home into eternity with Him. All we need to do is give Him our weaknesses, and He will give us His strength. Give Him our cross, and He will carry it forward. Give Him our lives, and He will give us life with Him. Eternal. Perfect. Sufficient.

Listen to “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship

Click for lyrics to the song

 

Hey y’all! My name is Sarah Bishop, and I am currently a junior Psychology major at Christopher Newport University. It’s my dream to teach elementary school and pour my life into children in need. I’m in my second year of leadership here with Cru, and I am so grateful for the community Christ brought me to. I enjoy Pad Thai lunches with my friends/mom, quoting The Office, and my beloved pair of Birkenstocks that I wear way too often. My prayer is that in whatever season of life you have found yourself in, you can rest in the sufficiency of Christ and the perfect love He has for you.