the pursuit of surrender

When I think of the Lord, I find myself falling into a state of overwhelming awe. So while this post is about abandoning self and chasing wholeheartedly after the God who is in every way superior, I want to share three simple truths about who God is and why he is worthy of our surrender:

God is good.  We serve a God who is so good we, in our humanness, can’t fully understand how the goodness of God steadfastly exists in every situation

God is sovereign.  In every moment and in every situation we come across, God is in control.  Our God is 100% in control of anything that happens in our life.  This may be hard to see when things get hard, but remember that God has promised he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can stand *with his help* (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Yes, he will allow us to be tempted, but he is sovereign.  Nothing will touch us without God first knowing that we can withstand it as we rely on him for strength.

God is faithful. The Lord has promised that he will never leave or forsake us many times throughout scripture.  His promises never fade, and his faithfulness is eternal.

This is the God to whom I surrender.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24

Surrender is the heart of faith.  It means laying everything at the foot of the cross, trusting the Lord, and accepting His grace.  It’s laying down your problems, your sins, your plans, your dreams, your desires, your life, and picking up the salvation that Jesus died on the cross for you to gain.

Surrender means giving your heart, your whole heart, to the Lord. It means giving up the plans you have in your mind of what your life should be like.  It means seeking the Lord with every ounce of strength that you have inside of you, despite circumstances trying to steal that strength away.

Surrender is more than a one-time decision.  To me, the pursuit of surrender is something I strive for daily.  I have to wake up each morning and decide that God is worthy of my every breath.  I would love to tell you that I made the decision once and I never question it, but that wouldn’t be true.  I’m human. I make mistakes. I lose sight of how good, how sovereign, and how faithful my Lord is every single day.  That is why I’m calling my surrender a pursuit.  I’m pursuing the Lord and the life he has called for me, knowing that I, in my power alone, could never accomplish the plans he has for me.  With each new problem that comes my way I’m striving to lay down at his feet, trusting that he is more capable of handling that situation than I am.

Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust in You” lays out the idea of surrender in such an incredible way.  If you haven’t listened to it, I encourage you to do so.  There is one part specifically that I want to share to sum up what the pursuit of surrender is all about:

“When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move.
When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through.
When you don’t give the answers as  I cry out to you.
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you.”

Surrender is all about trusting that God’s plans are perfect, and his ways are good.  It’s about acknowledging that he is all-powerful, that He can move mountains, split the sea, and answer any question you come to him with, but also acknowledging that he may not do these things for you because he has other plans in mind.  His plan may be for you to climb to the top of the mountain instead of him moving it out of your way, or to stand and fight rather than him providing you a quick escape, or to wait months or even years before he will answer the questions you have for him.

In your pursuit of surrender, you have to trust that his plans and his timing are perfect.  It’s about having the faith and the trust in God to answer “Here I am Lord, send me.” whenever and wherever he may call you.  The pursuit of surrender is sacrificing yourself for the glory of God, knowing that by laying down your life to him, you gain infinitely more than you could ever lose.

My prayer is that you begin your pursuit of surrender if you haven’t already.  See what the Lord can do in your life.  Experience the joy of knowing and trusting in the One who made you.  Lay down your life, take up your cross, and follow Him.

 

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the Son still shines

To say that I’ve been blessed would be an understatement.  Most of my days have been full of joy and sunshine (for which I am incredibly grateful), but like everyone else I’ve had my share of bad days, too.  It is for the bad days that I write this post.

Life can be hard.

You may have days where you feel like you aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, strong enough…days you just feel like you aren’t enough.

You may have days where anxiety holds you captive, and you feel like you’ll never be rid of the anxious thoughts keeping you from enjoying the life you’ve been given.

You may have known days where all you can think to do is literally cry out to God asking for some sense of clarity about why things happened the way they did.

You may have experienced days where you have no energy to even cry to God, where the only thing you’re able to do is look up and silently pray for your world to stop shattering around you.

…Or maybe you’re having one of these days now.

In all of these days, the world seems dark.  The sky seems so full of clouds that you doubt the sun is even there anymore.  I’ve been there, and it’s hard.  But there has been one thing that has steadfastly carried me through each and every dark day: Jesus.

Knowing Jesus changes everything.

You find a shelter in the storm.  You find a place of refuge where, even on the darkest of days, the Son still shines.   Even through the worst situations, He is still good because he is still God.  Through it all, Jesus still lives in you.  He is walking through your storm with you.  He is offering to carry your hurt and your pain and your sorrow.  Let him.

If you’re living through stormy days today, let Jesus carry your burdens, and simply exist in him.  Allow him to wrap you up in all that he is, and rest in his loving light that (I believe) shines the brightest on the dark days.

Let Him shine through your storm, and when you finally find yourself enjoying a sunny day once again, thank him. Thank him for the storm and the sunshine because through it all God is still good and his Son still shines.

 

John 1:5 + Psalm 18:28 + Psalm 91:1 + Isaiah 25:4 + Psalm 107:1 + Joshua 1:5

 

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What do fireworks have to do with Faith?

Let me start by saying that I am definitely not a professional writer.  Grammar has never been my strongest subject, I’m not the best with describing what I’m thinking, and there will no doubt be countless mistakes throughout all of my posts…but I belong to a God who chooses to use me anyway, and so I will write.

So for my very first post in the blogging world, I thought it might make sense to explain my thoughts behind the name “Fireworks.”

I love the 4th of July.  Family, fun, celebrating America, and my personal favorite: fireworks.

Think about fireworks for a second. Someone lights a fuse, lets it burn, and then something absolutely beautiful happens.  An incredible burst of colors and lights fly across the sky in a beautiful display for everyone to see.  All because someone lit a small flame.

Just like a relationship with the Lord.

Every person who has come to Christ has done so because God put a desire in that person’s heart to chase after him, and then He placed someone in their life to light the flame of desire in that same heart.  HOW AMAZING.  The God who created everything and can do anything still wants you.  He offers you anything you could ever need, yet he allows you to decide for yourself whether or not you accept that offer.

I honestly believe that while the Lord ultimately lets you choose for yourself, he does place people in your life that attempt to awaken that desire for himself that has always been in your heart.  Unfortunately, we don’t always take the hint, but when you allow someone to light that flame of desire to know the Lord —  no matter how small — something beautiful happens.

That small flame quickly grows into a fire that consumes your whole heart and soul, and you begin to change from the inside out.  These changes begin internally, but soon your relationship with God becomes just like the firework that explodes and creates something beautiful for everyone to see.  As the Lord works in you, people begin to see the impact he has on your life.

Where you would have normally felt hopeless, you find hope in God. (Romans 15:13)

Where you used to see sadness, you now see joy.  (John 15:11)

How you once felt unlovable, you now know you are loved unconditionally.  (1 John 4:7)

Where you were broken, you find yourself being put back together. (Psalm 31:12)

How you used to feel unworthy, you now know your worth is much more than gold.   (1 Peter 1:18-19)

When you would have felt weary and restless, you now can find rest.  (Matthew 11:28)

How you used to be full of sin and shame, you now are drowning in the grace of God. (Acts 15:11)

Where you once were lost, you are now found in the glorious light of the Creator of the world. (Matthew 18:12-14)

You are a beautiful example of the saving power of the Lord to each person you encounter. You are a firework of faith.  When you feel the Lord tugging at your heart, let your flame grow into a fire that can be seen by everyone.  Allow the beauty of finding God radiate from you, and don’t ever hold back.

Just like you, my relationship with the Lord is like a firework, and for that reason I strive to be a beautiful display of what the Lord can do in the heart of an imperfect person.

“If my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.” – A. W. Tozer

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