Exchange Conditions for Submission
It is a law of the spiritual life that every act of trust makes the next act less difficult.[i]
Hannah Whitall Smith
ave you ever put conditions upon your willingness to obey God? I remember a friend who, when she was young, was willing to do anything for the Lord but go to Africa. At that time, mission work in Africa was a badge of honor for the young adults in her circle of Christian friends, and though she desired complete submission to God’s will for her life, in her secret heart of hearts she could not face the possibility of a mission field so far from home.
"Anything but Africa, Lord," she would pray.
With much agony of spirit, she finally submitted to the Lord and opened her heart and mind to the possibility of mission work. But an overseas assignment never arrived for my friend. Instead, she was called to be a stay-at-home mom to five sons (and I'm sure there were days when she thought Africa might've been an easier mission field!).
The Lord asks us to release our “anything but” conditions for obedience into His hands. This doesn’t mean we are to make a list of every horrific thing we can imagine, but most of us have at least one area of ongoing resistance that we need to release to the Lord.
We fear the loss of freedom of choice. We fear others will take advantage of us and rob us of the time and focus we need to accomplish our goals. Our lists of excuses are lengthy, but at the heart of the matter is the secret desire to live our lives according to what we want to do, and we aren’t open to suggestions from the Lord that may run counter to our own desires.
Removing the conditions we place upon our willingness to obey God can be an agonizing process. As we pour out our hearts to the Lord, we wonder how we can proceed? How to release our own desires when we don’t know His plan? How to sign a contract with a God whose thoughts we cannot know?
As I cried out concerns like the ones above to God, the answer came to me in these words:
Proceed by trusting the Lord.
No one can deliver out of His hand.
Efforts to protect yourself will fail, but if you trust in God's ability to protect you, then you will prosper.
Do not draw your own hedge of protection around and about yourself. Trust in the Lord's protection.
Bottom line, are you going to trust Him--or not?
The assignments God gives may take a toll on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Or, He may strengthen us to the task so that we are blessed through the work He provides. Whatever path He chooses for us, we must trust in His unfailing love. The Lord knows our hearts; if we aren’t able to submit entirely, then at least He will know when we are willing to be made willing.
Submission to God’s will reflects a level of trust that removes yet another weight from our hearts as we enter into freedom.
Pray: Lord, I trust you with my past, present, and future. I entrust myself fully to You. Make me malleable in Your hands so that my thoughts and the intentions of my heart are influenced more by You than by my desire to have my own way. Forgive me my fear of Your good, pleasing, and perfect will. Amen.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.