Updated: May 8, 2020
Being someone that grew up comfortably in the big city of Houston, my first “real outdoor experience” was a ten day, forty-five mile, backpacking trip through the Appalachian Mountains. Imagine not having your phone, toilet paper, or fresh water, while carrying your sleeping bag, and cooking food over a fire. I had signed up for this trip because someone told me it was a good way to learn to follow God. I was new to this idea and it was the most stretching experience of my life.
As the sun was setting on the fifth day, ten of us cleaned up our dinner and tossed our bags into the trees to keep the bears away. Our guide then gathered us together to announce that night was “Solo Night”. With great hesitation and confusion, I thought, “I really hope she means singing.” It didn’t.
We were assigned a spot in the woods to sleep under the stars, with only a sleeping bag and a bottle of water, to “connect with God in a new way.” In all honestly, I wasn’t looking to connect with God that way. I didn’t know Him very well and, personally, felt like this was not what I had signed up for. The look on everyone else’s faces, showed that they felt the same way. We were terrified, disappointed, and shocked. I was completely in over my head.
Right before the sun disappeared behind the mountain, the guide left me with the encouragement that “God is with you.” I thought skeptically, “Is He though?” I laid down and begged God to help me both survive and sleep through the night. I can still remember my legs shaking as I heard the rustling leaves next to me. I said to myself, "It's such a bug - it's just a bug." In the midst of my fear, I realized that my only option was to trust a God that was in control even in the darkness.
The night became so dark that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Yet somehow, the sounds of the mountains eventually went from terrifying to somewhat soothing. I quietly cried as I sensed God teaching me to trust Him. I accepted my circumstances and surrendered my desire to retreat. In turn, I felt God with me in the stillness of the night as I faded into a peaceful sleep.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
That night I had no other choice, but to trust God instead of what I knew about my circumstances. I saw God in a new way when I woke up the next morning. He was my protector, the giver of peace. I woke up feeling strong, capable, and loved by God.
What is it for you that God is asking you to surrender? Are you furious about your trip being cancelled? Confused about how your college experience could be over in, what feels like, the blink of an eye? Are you fearful of the future?
You may ask yourself, do I really believe that God is in control in a world of economic chaos and a deadly global virus? Can I really trust Him? God is giving us all an opportunity to know Him and trust Him in a new way, and there is no way to do it except to persevere through it.
Together, let's loosen our grip on the life we wish we were living. I encourage you to take 30 minutes right now to sit quietly and ask God these two questions:
“What do I need to surrender?”
“What are you teaching me about Yourself?”
Write them down and share them with a friend or in the comment section below.
Over the last 16 years, as I have walked with God, He has taught me to trust Him over and over again. I say to you as a friend, could He be teaching you to trust Him too? It is one thing to count the cost of trusting Jesus. It is a whole other thing to pay the cost of trusting Jesus when the price gets high. Let’s surrender together to the good God who is in control. I wait in eager expectation to learn the new ways you got to know God because of everything that has happened to you in 2020. Just like He did for me on that crisp June night in 2004, I promise you that if you surrender, God will meet you where you are at.
Discuss these questions with a friend or spiritual leader to help apply today's reading:
When do you feel like you personally surrendered to God? If you haven't, what’s holding you back?
What is God teaching you about Him right now?
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