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!
@jocerenee