by Jennifer Slattery
[Jesus invited His disciples:] …Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31 NIV
Early in my ministry, I often exhausted myself trying to manage everything. Though I knew with certainty my assignment came directly from God, I worked as if He expected to carry the load alone. As if results came through sheer grit rather than the work of His hands.
When one of my team members forgot or failed to complete a task, I felt responsible to step in and catch every ball that happened to get dropped. Though I talked a great deal about faith-filled, surrendered living, I routinely behaved as if our results depended on me. Unfortunately, my attitude trickled down to everyone else, turning roles that should’ve brought us great joy, fulfillment, and ever-deepening connections with our Savior into tiresome, anxiety-producing chores.
I knew, intellectually, I wasn’t living or leading as He desired but lacked the courage to slow my hustle. I felt if I did, we’d fail. I was not relying on Christ to be my source of wisdom and strength. Perhaps my heart didn’t believe what my mouth proclaimed.
Then, one spring, life hit many of my team members hard. Hurricanes threw some off balance. Family illnesses left others struggling to think straight let alone write or create. At first, I tried to work harder and faster but this only led to burnout with little visible growth.
My inspiration and vision squashed, I wanted to quit. And so, for a time, I basically did. We all did, in fact, for nearly six months. I expected to see all that we’d worked for would fade until our organization died completely.
Instead, we grew.
And when the Coronavirus forced us to cancel a year’s worth of events along with their funding, we grew again in terms of readership, impact, and volunteers. Through it all, God reminded me of something that in all my running, I’d forgotten. The God who formed, redeemed, molded, and empowers me doesn’t need me to perform or to strive. Instead, He invites me to yield and to trust. Or rather, to shift my trust off of myself and to where it belongs: on Him.
Isaiah 30:15a says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (NIV). God spoke these words to ancient Israel when the Assyrian army was coming against them. Grossly overpowered from a human perspective, they were terrified. In their desperation, they turned to Egypt, with its iron chariots and well-trained army, placing more faith in the might of man than in God Almighty. They thought they were aligning themselves with strength. But by distancing themselves from the God who loved them, they were actually increasing their weakness.
God beckoned them to return to Him, the One who had proven His faithfulness again and again, but they refused to listen. And while I can recognize the foolishness of their actions, I much too frequently behave like them when I am under attack. I soon realize, however, how insufficient my most fervent efforts and greatest allies truly are, when formed apart from Christ.
But the moment I turn back to Him in faith, God fights on my behalf, makes up for my lack, and gives me everything I need to do all He’s asked, just as He did for ancient Israel when King Hezekiah humbled himself and turned to God.
Then, his soul was quieted and at peace, not panicked, rushed or confused.
Choosing surrender, especially when the stakes are high, can feel incredibly frightening. But it places us in a position of power and strength. I’m reminding myself of this truth now as I am about to enter into a busy season, returning to school while writing, speaking, leading a ministry … When people ask how I’ll manage it all, I smile and say that I have an amazing team. And I do, but even more than that, we serve an amazing God. I know He will carry everything He wants to thrive. Therefore, whatever areas fall short must not be from Him, because He is big enough and strong enough to perfect all that concerns us.
He is big enough for all that concerns you as well.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.
In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.
Join the conversation: Do you struggle with surrender?