Thursday, December 10, 2015

Finding Christmas: Ongoing Surrender

It would be much easier if surrender to the will of God was a one-time, done-and-it's-over event, but it's not. Surrender to the will of God, for me at least, is an every day, multiple-times-a-day, fluid event. I must repeatedly place myself in His capable hands and try hard to leave myself there.

Surrender to the will of God is a choice I am constantly making.

When I said, "I'm going home to write," I assumed I would be through by Christmas and practicing medicine again by the first of the year. I thought I would be writing something completely different. Not fiction. I've written non-fiction for nearly twenty years. Why change now? 

Surrender to the will of God, that's why.

There's been a problem with this particular will of God. I didn't have the skill to do it. 

After years of successfully practicing medicine, it's been hard to be the "new kid on the block", to be the novice, the one who needs to learn. It's been exhausting. I've read a mountain of books on writing technique. I've taken online courses. I've attended conferences and meetings. I've studied point of view until I was sick to death of it. I've written chapters and asked for critiques. I've made changes to the manuscripts based on the critiques over and over again.

Surrendering to the will of God once was not enough. Every morning for the last year, I have risen before dawn and surrendered to the will of God again.

I must surrender to this journey of fiction every morning, because this path is hard and I fantasize that it is easier on a different path. Some days, I surrender to this journey with every paragraph. Every sentence. Every word. 

After two months of writing fiction, working twelve and fourteen hours a day, I was desperate. "It would be much easier to go back to medicine, Lord."I explained all the reasons I should return to my profession, not the least of which was more money. Certain success.  I wouldn't be the new kid any more. 

I needed a Word, something I could hang on to through the hard days of uncertainty and tight budgets. I found it in an unexpected place. On January 4, 2015, just hours before I submitted my novel to an agent for the first time (which went far better than it should have and gave me a much-needed dose of encouragement) I found this verse and it spoke straight to my heart.

"For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you." Isaiah 41:14 nasb

Those words are posted on my refrigerator and I've read them every day. 

God promised help and He has given it. 

I now have a supportive group of fellow writers to whom I am accountable. We report word counts daily and pray for each other as we struggle to put stories on the page. He's given me a mentor who believes in me and a teaching editor who is helping transform my rough beginnings into something wonderful. God has given me encouragement and early indicators of success. He's given me more kind words than I would have expected, and probably more than I deserve.

Perhaps more important, God has taken my fear. 

I've seen His hand of provision, of orchestration so many times over the last year that all I can do is stand in awe of His kindness and the amazing grace with which He fills my days.

Even with a heart full of awe and gratitude, I still have to surrender every day. 

I still have to sit down at the computer and write. I still have to research terrorists and criminals, try to think like a villain, write events in a coherent and engaging manner, edit, correct, and edit some more. Novels don't magically flow out of my fingers. This is hard work. 

This struggle of ongoing surrender shouldn't surprise us, but it often does. Jesus had the same problem. He surrendered to the will of His Father when He wrapped Himself in flesh and nestled in the feed trough beside His unlikely parents. He surrendered to the will of His Father when He allowed His cousin, John, to baptize Him. He was still surrendering to His Father when, hours before His crucifixion, He prayed and wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

"Not My will, but Thine be done."

Surrendering to God once, in one area, is not enough. He wants us to surrender every area of our lives to His will, His leading, His loving plan. 

Over the next couple of weeks, we will have the opportunity to surrender our worldly view of Christmas to God's Holy view. Once will not be enough. Daily surrender of our bent toward "tradition". Daily surrender of our longing for worldly glitter. Daily surrender of our desire for "easy" faith. 

If we are willing to trade fiction for truth, temporary glitter for the eternal treasures of God, and worldly traditions for worship of a Sacrificing, Surrendering Savior, our Christmas will be transformed into more than we could have imagined. It will be worth it.

Today, let's offer our gift of surrender to God and prepare to offer that gift over and over again until the day when He calls us home.

The most read post of the last week: Finding Christmas: When Life is Less than Perfect
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