“This is the third time I’ve faced that rapid,” I thought. “I know what I have to do – paddle, paddle with all the strength my arms can muster to avoid that same location!” This is the conversation that entered my mind as I approached the all-too-familiar rapid that had already beaten me twice – flipping me out of my tube and disorienting me below the fury of the spinning waters. Adrenaline coursed through my veins as I set my arms into motion, paddling to fight the “beast” that lay ahead.
As I came up to the area just above the dip to the waters below, I realized that my paddling had caused me to become stuck in a current atop of the plunge. And the harder I paddled to get unstuck, the more stuck I became. But the fear of submerging below the freezing waters for a third time motivated me to try harder, paddle more furiously.
It’s hard to be stuck, isn’t it? Sometimes life feels like that. Sometimes you resolve to try harder – try something new – fight from a different angle. But I contend that freedom comes in the most unlikely of ways.
Finally, after what probably only amounted to a few minutes of paddling, I laid back in the tube and gave my raw arms a chance to rest. I murmured in my mind, “I can’t; I just can’t keep paddling, so come what may, I’m prepared for the inevitable plunge into the deep.” And then something unexpected occurred; I naturally moved from the current in which I was stuck to the base of the rapid in one fluid motion – no tipping, no “certain” plunge into the frigid waters; I was safe. I was safe, and the scars on my arms had done me no good in getting there. All I had to do was let go.
I believe my trip down the rapids that summer day fulfilled several roles for me: fun with the family, bonding time, overcoming fears, and perhaps most unexpectedly, the Lord gave me a physical representation of something I struggle so heartily to do within the spiritual realm: surrender.
This word, so oftentimes packed with negative connotations, is the life-breath of Christians. How do we overcome a particular sin? We first surrender. How do we get over unmet expectations? We surrender. How do we reconcile the past? We surrender. But you see, it’s not just about the act of surrendering. We could surrender to a number of unworthy sources and be no better off for it. The Christian has power because of the Glorious One to whom we surrender.
Why should I let go of my addiction to __________________? Why should I let go of my yearning to know why? Why should I let go of my unmet expectations for the past? The answer is simple, and it’s found in Isaiah 61:3.
"They will be called oaks of righteousness, planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor."
We surrender because we desire for our lives to display His glory. And this isn’t like desiring the glory of any human, who, left unchecked, would puff with pride from all of that glory. No – this is the desire for the glory of the One who made you, who loves you, who knows how we best function. Would it not then be wise to trust the Lord and surrender our battles to Him?
Let’s not fight harder or try more. Let’s give it to the Lord, and move forward in obedience. Because He can do far more than we can. He can bring healing. And we will be “a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” Is there anything better?