I looked out the window bewildered at the sound of rain. After spending the last week and a half in a pool of my own sweat, the hard rainfall felt like an answer to prayer after a long, dry drought. I did what I always do when it actually rains in Hawaii (we’ve always lived on the dry side of the islands), I lit candles and opened up every door and every window to take it all in. Out one window were dark clouds, and out the other was blue sky and palm trees. I knew it wouldn’t last long. I wanted to do all the cozy things and pretend we actually lived somewhere with real seasons, which I often crave here on this tropical little island.
I’ve been in a season of craving lately. Of wanting and wishing and longing. And I don’t mean for good things. I mean for more: more money, more things, more stuff, more everything else but God, it seems. As many of you know by now, we moved islands and we’re having a baby (!). And God has been so good through this whirlwind of a season and all the transitions. It has been more work than I’ve ever imagined, and I surprisingly found myself in quite the spiritual drought through it all. I’ve gotten wrapped up in home decor, and shopping for the nursery, and freaking out over not being able to work for a while, and worrying about finances.
And three things occurred to me that I had to do in order to set my soul on fire for God again.
I was walking with a dear friend of mine before we left Maui, and she asked me what word, if any, God was impressing on my heart this year. And the two that immediately came to mind were surrender and obedience.
Surrendering to the Lord in this stressful season of moving and adjusting and trusting in His provision: for money, for a community and new church home, and for a newfound desire for Him.
But how? We like to throw around the term surrender a lot in our Christian circles. And actually implementing it is much more difficult than it sounds. For me, it’s turning my mind off when it starts to wander in worry. It’s letting go of control: meaning throwing out the to-do lists and strategizing and over-planning, over-thinking, and over-analyzing.
The second word that popped into my head was obedience. These two go hand in hand for me. Because personally, I don’t think you can have surrender without obedience, and vice versa. You can’t be truly surrendered if you aren’t walking in obedience, and you can’t thrive in obedience if you aren’t fully surrendered. Obedience means pushing through my drought, keeping my head down and eyes focused on living like Jesus and for Jesus, and walking obediently even when I don’t feel like my heart is in the right place. And then realizing it doesn’t always have to feel a certain way to continue in obedience.
Another important factor in surrender and obedience I feel I need to address is surrendering in obedience to my husband. I know it sounds old school, and the idea of surrendering to your husband isn’t cool and trendy to talk about these days. But God appointed him as the leader of our family, and I respect that and want to respect the both of them. Honestly, it’s a relief to me that I’m not the sole decision maker: we’re a team. And at the end of the day, I trust Jason to hear from God and know what’s best for our family. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have married him. 😉 And trusting in his decision-making for our family is huge for me in order to desire more of God.
3. Lower your standards
Yep, you read that right. Somewhere in the midst of the “Instagram Bible” and Bible studies, devotionals, and blogs galore, we’ve created loftier goals and higher expectations for ourselves – in all areas of life. I know I have. “I have to read at least 5 chapters of my Bible a day,” or, “my quiet time has to be at least two hours.” Sometimes I feel guilty if I only read one chapter of the Bible a day. And that’s missing the whole point.
We need to lower our standards. I’m not saying hey, let’s be lazy, but I am saying that we need to give ourselves grace. Because even getting in the word for one chapter a day is better than not at all. Something is better than nothing. For me, this is a hard one – I am an all or nothing girl. If it isn’t my full quiet time, then it’s no good at all. I might as well skip it. And this is the completely wrong attitude to have.
God will reward obedience regardless of how big or small it is.
I truly believe if we surrender our worries, our to-do lists, and our personal agendas, if we take baby steps of obedience however we can, and if we lower our expectations, it will leave room for God to create an insatiable desire for Him in our hearts and create more room for Him to move in our lives.