I love the assurance in Philippians 1:6 that Christ will finish the work He has started in me. He won’t give up on me, even when I’m ready to give up. He’s right there, always encouraging, guiding, forgiving and loving.
To experience His love fully, however, I need to recognize my powerlessness. As long as I think I can change myself, I won’t allow Jesus to do His work in me. When I’m totally frustrated and throw up my hands in despair and confess that I can’t do it, He can step in and do it. My goal is to be better at surrendering before I reach that point of frustration and despair. I wish I could surrender totally and immediately upon the first prompting of the Holy Spirit, but my sinful, selfish, self-deceptive nature is so strong that I’m often thrown into a period of confusion, which doesn’t clear up until I see where I’m compromising. I need to develop the habit of crying out to the Lord for the strength to obey as soon as I’m aware of a spiritual struggle.
Here’s an example from my 1990 journal: One day, I wanted to pick up my photos but the Lord wanted me to take my young children straight home. Four different times, on my way, I said to myself, “It must not be the Lord’s will for me to go,” but instead of surrendering and asking for help to obey, I felt sorry for myself and frustrated, and I kept trying. Finally I did give up–when I was in the parking lot–but I would have saved myself a lot of trouble if I’d immediately turned to the Lord and said, “I don’t think it’s Your will for me to go now, Lord. Please confirm that, and give me the power to obey you.” I need to practice talking to the Lord instead of talking to myself when I feel those “tugs”.
Obedience comes more readily when I believe God knows what’s best for me. When I wanted to pick up the photos, God simply knew (as I saw later) that the kids and I would be a lot happier if I took them straight home, met their needs first, and then picked up the photos later. When I finally surrendered, He brought good out of the situation in that I shared with the kids my spiritual battle and how God finally had to “spank” me to get my attention. They thought it was funny that I needed a spanking, so everyone’s good humor was quickly restored. (My “spanking” was that the kids became disagreeable and uncooperative and that’s when I finally said, “Ok, Lord” and went home.)
Years later, I can’t say I’ve mastered the art of instantly surrendering by faith, believing that God has my best interests at heart, but I can say that I’m making progress! He is faithful!