Learning to Surrender to God’s Will

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My whole life, I’ve been told that the mark of a true Christian is submitting to God’s will. But I’ve always felt that this lofty goal has been just out of reach.

The truth is, I like my will. I like being independent, making my own decisions, and feeling that I’m in control. I mean, aren’t these admirable qualities? Shouldn’t I learn how to be responsible and take care of myself? I’ve also been taught the importance of self-reliance. So reserving some of my own will for myself to learn self-reliance is also important, right?

This last year, I’ve learned so much about myself and about God that has completely changed my faulty thinking about what it means to surrender to God’s will. Instead of feeling fearful of giving up control or guilty for not doing enough, I am learning how to feel enabled to become my best self through surrendering to God’s will.
In short, I’ve learned that my willingness to surrender to God’s will requires two ingredients:
  1. Believing that God is all powerful
  2. Believing that God’s love has no limits

God is All Powerful

As I’ve reflected on my unwillingness to let go of my own will and surrender to God, I have realized that sometimes I forget that God truly is all powerful.

In the bible, we learn that Jonah struggled with this as he questioned God’s will for him to preach to the people of Nineveh. Jonah knew that the people of Nineveh were beyond saving, and that there was nothing he could say that would change that. God must have made a mistake; not even the great Almighty could soften the hearts of such a wicked people.

Another example from the Bible is Naaman and his reluctance to follow Elisha’s message to him from God to wash in the river Jordan to be healed from his leprosy. The river Jordan was filthy, and the idea of washing in it to be healed of leprosy was preposterous; God must have gotten it wrong this time.

In these examples, reluctance to surrender to God’s will was the result of doubting that God really knows best and can do what He says He can. Even though I may not realize it, any time I am reluctant to follow God’s will because I think I know better, I am doubting His omnipotence. If I truly believe and trust in God’s knowledge and power, why would I ever doubt that His will is better than my own?

God’s Love Has No Limits

Believing that God can do anything is essential, but it is only half of the equation. Sure, God may be all powerful, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that He has my best interest in mind, right? Maybe He is manipulating my life as part of a big research experiment, or just because He has a twisted sense of humor.

The other piece of my reluctance to surrender to God’s will is forgetting that God really does love me and always wants what’s best for me. Sometimes it is hard to keep this perspective, especially when going through significant trials.

After all, how could God be all loving when He lets bad things happen to good people? I am learning that God really does want what is best for me in the eternal perspective.

Sometimes it is best for me to go through temporary pain to learn something I couldn’t learn otherwise. Sometimes it is best for me to sacrifice time I’d rather spend on my own pursuits to strengthen my relationship with those I love.

God has more than earned my trust through the greatest expression of love; He sent His Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die so I can live with Him again. Even though I may not realize it, any time I am reluctant to follow God’s will because I don’t believe it is in my best interest, I am doubting His unparalleled love for me. If I truly believe that God’s love for me has no limits, why would I ever doubt that He wants anything but the very best for me?

Fully Surrendering to God’s Will

When I fully believe both in God’s power and His love, I am always willing to surrender to His will. I know that God can make more of my life than I can make of it myself.

When I remember these two things, I am excited to surrender to His will. I know that with His help, I will always reach greater heights and be a better person than I could ever be on my own.

Whenever I find that I am reluctant to surrender to His will, I recognize that I need to strengthen my faith in His power or His love. If I’m unwilling because I don’t think His idea will work, then I need to strengthen my faith in His power.

If I’m unwilling because I don’t trust that His will is in my best interest, then I need to strengthen my faith in His love. At the end of the day, if I really do believe He is all powerful and His love for me has no limits, why would I ever want anything other than His will?

What is God’s Will For Me?

As my faith in God and His attributes has grown, I’ve become excited to learn and do His will for me in my life. My faulty, naive understanding of God’s will for me in the past was fueled by a misunderstanding of who God really is.

I thought surrendering to God’s will meant giving up what I loved and what I was most passionate about. I believed that God was a micromanager who demanded that all of my time, money, and talents be directed exclusively towards religious pursuits.

I thought if I were really prepared to do His will, I would need to give all my money to the poor and spend all of my free time either reading scripture or preaching to people about God.

It’s almost as if I thought God wanted to turn me into an automaton: a God-zombie, thinking and doing nothing else but praising Him on street corners and collecting donations for the poor.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t criticize anyone who chooses to devote their lives to God in this way. But as I’ve become willing to learn and do His will for me, I’ve found that He cares about my passions. He wants me to pursue the things that I love. He wants me to learn, explore, and make my own decisions.

I’m learning that I don’t have to choose between dedicating my life to God’s will or pursuing an education, a career and meaningful hobbies. I can do both; God wants me to do both. He doesn’t want me to be an automaton, He wants me to be the best me I can be.

I thought surrendering to His will meant surrendering my ability to make my own choices. But I learned that the grand majority of the time His will is to give the choice back to me to direct my life, pursuing my passions and learning from my mistakes. Pursuing His will doesn’t restrict me, it enables me to become my very best self.

 

For anyone struggling with the notion of completely surrendering to God’s will, I invite you to ask yourself two questions:
  1. Do I really believe that God can do anything?
  2. Do I really believe that God truly loves me and wants what’s best for me?

At least for me, when I can honestly and completely answer yes to both of these questions, I’m excited to learn and follow God’s will. I know that whatever God has in store for me is better than anything I could do on my own. The person He will help me become will always be better than the person I can be without Him.

What experiences have you had in following God’s will? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Jordan

    Great article. Thanks!