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

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.

@sarahkatelynn

My Only Constant // Jocelyn

Boxes everywhere. The house is disheveled. Packing for what seems like forever, and yet it seems like there’s always more. More transitions. More change. New things are coming fast and right now there’s a number of uncertainties.

For the most part, I’d say I’m someone who enjoys change. There are always hard changes that come up, yes, but for the most part I’m someone who gets excited about the future before being fearful about it. I love upcoming opportunities for adventure. (Sometimes to a fault because then it causes me to be bored with the present, but I digress. That’s not the point here.)

I’m officially done with a full year of campus ministry in a new state with a new staff team, and I’ve had the time of my life. (cue Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes)

Now it’s summer (“summer”.. “summer”.. #HSM2shoutout) and with that comes a bunch of travel. #NomadLife. I’ll be road-tripping from Virginia to Pennsylvania, up to New Hampshire for six weeks, back to PA for a week or so, fly out to Colorado for a week, then back to PA & road-trip back down to Virginia.

One of the uncertainties of life is that I currently don’t know where I’ll be living once I get back from all the crazy travel. So.. that’s a thing. Also, what’s in store for this summer? How is God going to use the Summer Mission I’ll be staffing in NH? Which students will I get to pour into? What will they be like? What will my routine look like while I’m traveling all over God’s green earth? Did I forget anything when I packed all of my other belongings away?

With all of this in mind, something I’m thankful for amidst of all the change is God’s constancy. I’ve been working my way through Jen Wilkin’s None Like Him, which is saturated with great truth from Scripture about 10 attributes of God – attributes that are only true of Him.

In the chapter on God’s immutability, Jen talks about how we can’t truthfully use words like “always” or “never” to describe ourselves or other people. That hit me harrrrd, especially being someone who finds it difficult to be consistent or disciplined in what seem to be the simplest of things.

“When we apply the terms always or never to other people, we speak an untruth. Human beings don’t always or never anything. We just aren’t that consistent. We frequently, we fairly regularly, we often or habitually, but we do not always or never. As finite and mutable creatures, we cannot lay claim to these terms, either as pejoratives or as praise. They can only truly be spoken of God.”

Like I said, this really hit home and made me have those thoughts of “oh man, that’s true. I’m not consistent. I can’t be perfectly disciplined like I’d like to be.” That could be kind of a downer. But at the same time it freed me up to shift my glance off of myself and onto a God who is perfectly consistent.

I can use “always” and “never” when it comes to God.

He always comes through, even if the timing is different than what I’d like.
He never loses His faithfulness. He never changes. He’s always the same.
He always delivers. Always restores. Never stops pursuing the broken.
His character is consistent. Always reliable.

How refreshing is that? To know that in whatever stage of my life, whatever circumstance, I can say that God is loving, faithful, steadfast, etc., and those statements will always be true.

Jen also quotes Psalm 18:31 in this chapter:
“For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?”

This reference made me think of the song “Rest in You” from All Sons and Daughters’ Poets & Saints album (highly recommend). The song begins with lyrics derived from this verse. ( take a listen here & meditate on its truth! )

The bridge of the song repeats the line “You cannot change, yet you change everything.” This line plays over and over in my earbuds as I think about God’s immutability and my heart reflects, “this is so true.” God does not change, yet He has changed my whole life. My whole identity. My whole eternity.

The next verse in Psalm 18 says, “…the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.” (it goes on from there – read it for yourself! pray through it. journal through it.)

I can not only trust in the consistency of God in the middle of my ever-changing life & daily circumstances, I can also trust that the change that He’s made (and continues to make) in my life is certain, and my position in Him is secure and protected.

I’ll leave you with this last thought from Jen:

“Because He does not change, we can rely on the unchanging truth of Scripture. What He pronounces as sin will always be sin. What He pronounces as good will always be good. All that He has promised to do must come to pass. The Gospel itself is bound up in the idea of God’s immutability. We fervently need God to stay the same – our great hope of salvation lies in His remaining exactly as who He says He is, doing exactly what He says He will do. As long as His infinite sameness endures, He will not change His mind about setting His love on us. We can not commit a future sin that will change His verdict, because His verdict was passed with every sin past, present, and future fixed in view. Whom God pronounces righteous will always be righteous. Nothing we could do can remove from us the seal of His promised redemption. Nothing can separate us from the unfailing, unchanging love of this great God, the Rock of our salvation upon which the house of our faith is built.”

Are you experiencing some sort of big, or even small, transition? Rest in these truths. Rest in Him.