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

Nothing Is Too Messy For Jesus // Debbie // CNU

Fear. Shame. Guilt. Loneliness. Need to control.

It’s a constant battle. These are all things I so badly needed to give to God, but wouldn’t. I’ve been so blinded by my sin that I’ve started to view things in ways that were not of Him. I found myself wanting to grow closer to Jesus, but not wanting to surrender my old ways. I found myself living a life that was half in and half out. I found myself not trusting in His plans for my life because I had this skewed perspective that my plans were better than God’s plans.

Little did I know…

Last year around September, every time someone would talk about summer mission with Cru my heart would start pounding out of my chest and my cheeks would turn bright red. I quickly pushed that aside because I already had plans of working all summer. Then I went to fall retreat where I heard more about summer missions, but I didn’t want to deal with raising support. So with that, I pushed it aside once again. Then I went to winter conference and heard more about summer missions and slowly began to pray about it. After about 3 months of saying no to God about summer missions, there I was in front of my computer screen looking through all the different locations.

Fast forward six months and I am in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with 30 strangers who quickly turned into my best friends. The month of June was a life-changing month. I was challenged, loved, and encouraged.

You see, for the longest time I tried to carry the weight of sin on my own and thought I could just go about my day as long as no one knew about it. Up until Jackson Hole, I had been walking in darkness alone because I feared judgment and condemnation.

Externally I was “pursuing Jesus whole-heartedly” and “living an obedient life,” but my heart? My heart had strayed so far from Him that I began to lose sight of His goodness and provision. I desired to trust Him fully, but I was too afraid to surrender my old ways, idols, and hopes for the future.

This reminds me of Lot’s wife in Genesis 19 and how similar I am to her when it comes to trusting God. When God was preparing to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah He sent angels and “one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” (v.17). Instead of being obedient, Lot’s wife chose disobedience by turning to look back at her homeland and turned into a pillar of salt. And just like Lot’s wife in this passage, I wasn’t putting faith in what God wanted me to surrender to Him.

I chose to hold on to my lack of patience, idol of marriage, need to control, and selfishness instead of giving it to Him.

It’s easy to fall back into old ways of doing things and putting God on a backburner. It’s easy to get caught up in shame and forget that Jesus sees past our mess.

Nothing is too messy for Jesus.

We don’t have to be overwhelmed by our sin because He has already taken it to the cross. We don’t have to feel ashamed of our past because we are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Because of Jesus we are clean and set free from the bondage of sin. Instead of hiding from God we should be running toward Him to lay everything down at His feet because He has overcome it all. He died the death that we deserve.

Pause and go listen to this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REZ_OI0Yku8.

There’s something so beautiful about surrendering your brokenness that brings you to a place of intimacy and vulnerability with Jesus.

When I came across Psalm 116:1-9 the other day I was filled with joy because this passage is such a beautiful representation of redemption. Instead of allowing your heart and mind to be damaged by the words of the world, learn and choose to see yourself through the eyes of Jesus, who calls us daughter, son, beloved, chosen, bride, work of art, and more.

This summer has wrecked my heart in a beautiful way. Say “yes” to everything He calls you to do even if you don’t want to, because our plans will always fail. And be joyful knowing that our plans will fail because we serve a God who is all-knowing.

Ah… How sweet it is that we get to wake up to new mercies every morning and how sweet it is to have confidence in His plans.

You guys… following Jesus is such a wonderful adventure.

Hey guys! My name is Debbie and I am a junior at Christopher Newport University pursuing a degree in Business Marketing. I really enjoy watching God paint new colors in the sky every morning and every night, it’s one of my favorite things! I also love Ellen DeGeneres with a passion and it’s on my life bucket list to go to her show and scare her. My forever go-to look would be a midi dress and sandals with my hair up in a bun and a cute headband. Some of my other favorite things include my mom, pup, Jesus jams, Grand Tetons, hugs, wildflowers, and quality time. Currently I am going through a sweet sweet season of admiring my Savior and being adorned by my Savior.
@debbieanthony1