Life is tough. Feeling trapped by our own expectations or the expectations of others makes it even tougher. So how do we set goals and make plans for the New Year without feeling the inevitable tidal wave of pressure that comes when our best laid plans go the way of mice and men?
Personally, I’m a fan of the “one word” approach. Several years ago, authors Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page wrote a book about this idea — One Word That Will Change Your Life. I confess that I’ve never read the book, but I’m sure it’s fantastic. I know others who have read it and shared the premise with me, which is to zone in on one word that you should commit to living out during the year. It’s a great alternative to New Year’s Resolutions.
I’ve noticed, however, that I always come up with the same word. I think about it. I pray about it. I ask my wife about it. And the one word I always land on that I believe needs to drive my life in the coming year is this: Surrender.
There are lots of other good words out there – purpose, service, forgiveness, peace, humility, love… Somehow, for me at least, they all come back to surrender. Even love. Because when I try to be “loving” on my own, I mess it up.
I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to pick that word, but I believe everyone can have a better 2017 if surrender is included. Make it a part of your New Year’s Resolutions or your goals or your “one word.” Whatever it takes.
Surrender to what, you ask? Or to whom?
When I was a pagan, I believed I was fully in charge of my life. I was the highest authority. Then I realized that I’m a poor substitute for the God of the universe, and I surrendered to the authority of Jesus. That means I submitted to the covering protection of God – to His Word and to His will for my life.
The more I surrender each decision during each minute of each hour of each day, the more my life bends toward His will and His glory. I might not always get what I want when I want it and how I want it. But I don’t live with regret, I find joy in the moment, and I ultimately end up with more than I expected or deserved.
The problem is, surrender is tough. We live in an “I did it my way” world. And I’m selfish, needy and, frankly, a bit of a whiny-baby when I don’t get what I want. I’m OK with the idea of surrender, but I don’t do so well with the reality of it.
I relate to my former Sunday School teacher/dentist down in Fort Smith, Ark., who said it’s always hard for him to sing the great Judson Van DeVenter hymn, I Surrender All. You remember that classic, don’t you?
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
“That’s a big challenge,” my teacher/dentist says. “The song doesn’t say, ‘I’ll surrender some.’ Or, ‘I’ll surrender what I want.’ It says, ‘I surrender all.’”
Truth is, most days I surrender some. And that’s probably why it keeps coming back as my “one word.”
The good news is, I’ve surrendered to a God of grace. He doesn’t expect or require perfection from me. He loves me unconditionally for who I am not what I do. He’s a God of judgment, yes. But He’s also a God of love. Because I can surrender to that God, I know I’m in good hands. How about you?