Thy Will Be Done: My Story of Surrender

Part 1: Yet Not My Will

WRITING BRAVE

Some topics are easier to write about than others. What I am about to share falls firmly in the “difficult to write about” camp. It’s not a part of my life I talk about openly or often, but when I planned this writing project on the Lord’s Prayer, only one subject came to mind for “Thy Will Be Done”.

Thy Will Be Done: My Story of Surrender

I’ve tried to come up with something else. (That’s why this post is delayed and out-of-order in the series.) But everywhere I look, this one thing stares at me like an elephant in the room that refuses to leave no matter how much I try to ignore it. I’m interpreting this as a gentle nudge from God that it’s time to share.

My story is painful and messy and I’d rather avoid it but I’m writing brave today because I believe God has a message for you in my story. This is the reason I write. So please read gently and without judging, listening for the message God would whisper to your heart today.

As with many stories worth telling, it’s a long one (even after leaving many parts out), so I’ve divided it into multiple posts. It also gets ugly before it gets beautiful so be sure to come back tomorrow and stick with me until the end.

“Before every beautiful ending, there is a story of pain and loss.”

MY WILL BE DONE

After our third child, I felt called to surrender our family planning to God, relinquishing my (perceived) control over the spacing and number of our children.

Before I go further, let me be clear, I am not implying this is what God calls every family to do. I simply had a strong conviction it was what He asked me to do and I desired to obey to the best of my understanding.

See Also: I Said Yes

We all have a distinct life purpose He has divinely and uniquely created us to fulfill. Just like fingerprints, snowflakes, and zebra stripes, no two callings are created exactly alike. God’s creativity is infinite and there is no need to force people or families into any one particular mold.

Anyway, just because I felt God’s call pulling at my heart and I said “yes” to His plan, doesn’t mean everything fell into place easily. Over the years, I wrestled with doubts, uncertainties, and fears many times. I had my reasons.

  • Having a baby every 2 years for nearly 14 years is physically demanding.
  • Juggling the needs of multiple young children requires constant vigilance.
  • Going against the grain of a culture that is devoted to the idea that two children are more than enough is an exhausting swim upstream.
  • Having to repeatedly explain my reasons when I don’t fully understand them myself (beyond, “I’m doing what I believe God wants me to.”) erodes my faith that longs to believe God’s promises are true.
  • Being told that I’m “crazy” by people I love and respect hurts.
  • Being gawked at and publicly rebuked by strangers is frustrating and humiliating.
  • Being married to a military man whose job moves us every couple of years and prevents consistent and lasting friendships doesn’t make any of this easier.

These cumulative concerns kept a constant pressure pushing me toward doubt and the desire to give in to my culture’s status quo way of living.

There are so many wonderful, beautiful, joy-filled, heart-bursting, laughter-inducing, snuggly moments of having a big family too. But today, I need you to get a feel for my struggles so you can understand my story.

Please balance today’s post by reading: 20 Reasons We Love Our Big Family

There were seasons I struggled more than others. There was a very specific time in my life when I just didn’t feel like surrendering to God’s will.

Frankly, I had a different plan and I liked mine better than God’s. I even made plans to carry out my plan, subtly of course. I wasn’t going to outright disobey. I was just going to casually avoid a full surrender.

Confident my husband wouldn’t even pick up on my change of attitude, I guess I hoped I could fool God too. Perhaps He’d be too busy to notice my slight sidestep around His will.

Besides, it would only be for a short time and then I’d get back on God’s plan. I just needed a break from unfettered obedience. Or so I thought.

SURRENDER

God is often much more astute than we give Him credit for. This time was no exception. No sooner had I committed to my little plan then God put me in my place. The very next day was Sunday, and as usual, our family went to church.

The pastor preached on Luke 22:42. You know this story. It’s the part where Jesus is about to be unfairly tried, brutally tortured, cruelly murdered, and mercilessly mocked, all while carrying the weight of the entire world’s sin on His shoulders. He’s dreading it. He wants out of the deal. He’s asking God for another way.

It is what He says next that pierced my heart, “Yet, not my will, but Yours be done.”

Ouch. Jesus’ suffering was far greater than anything I will ever endure. He freely told His Heavenly Father His desire for a different plan. But then He did what I had refused to do. He surrendered to God’s plan rather than putting His own plan of escape into action.

Have you ever been in church or listening to a speaker or reading a book and you know God is speaking directly to you? That’s how it was for me that day. Everything else disappeared; the church, the people, the pastor, my husband. It was just me and God and He was tenderly dealing with my heart, removing my doubt and disobedience with the precision of a skilled surgeon.

I left church that day as a different person than the one who had entered. God exposed my “subtle” sidestep as the failure to trust that it was and I knew beyond any doubt that I could not go home insisting on my will and still claim to be a lover and a follower of Jesus.

It was an all-or-nothing moment. Either Jesus was Lord of my life or He wasn’t. Either God was worthy of my trust and therefore my surrender or He wasn’t. I couldn’t have it both ways. I couldn’t straddle the fence any longer. I was falling off and I had to land on one side or the other.

If Jesus was so willing to trust God to secure my salvation at such a great cost to Himself, how could I do anything other follow His faith-filled example?

So I tenderly laid my plans down on the altar of sacrifice and with a trembling voice I tentatively echoed Jesus’ prayer, “Your will instead of mine, Lord.”

I acknowledged that the dreams God had for me were far deeper than the ones I was clinging to. I let go of the death grip I had on my desires and opened myself to whatever God wanted to grow in me and through me for His glory.

“Dreams I Dream for You”, by Avalon

You taste the tears.
You’re lost in sorrow.
You see your yesterdays.
I see tomorrow.
You see the darkness.
I see the spark.
You know your failures.
But I know your heart.

The dreams I dream for you
Are deeper than the ones you’re clinging to,
More precious than the finest things you knew
And truer than the treasures you pursue.

Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view,
Then take the cup I offer
And drink deeply of
The dreams I dream for you.

You see your shame,
But I see your glory.
You’ve read one page.
I know the story.
I hold a vision
That you’ll become
As you grow into the truth
As you learn to walk in love.

Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view,
Then take the cup I offer
And drink deeply of
The dreams I dream for you.

Read part 2 next: The Joys and Trials of Surrender

Click here to see all the topics covered in this series.

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4 thoughts on “Thy Will Be Done: My Story of Surrender

  1. Elizabeth, this is a beautiful story! Surrendering is never easy but always profound, and in whatever area God calls each of us to fully surrender, we are also given the wisdom on the other side to share of Him. Thanks so much for sharing this…and on Fresh Market Friday!!

  2. We can’t help but be transformed when Jesus meets us face-to-face. I’m thankful He doesn’t leave us as we once were. Our stories have much in common. I appreciate reading a piece of yours! Blessings to you!