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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Surrendering to Christ

by Robin Patchen
 Surrender.


If you’ve been in the church long enough, the word surrender might’ve lost its meaning, because it is so overused. It had for me, until I wrote my most recent book, Faith House. Surrendering to God has become something I usually do willingly, and with that surrender comes peace. But in the beginning of this walk of faith, trusting God with my life—that was a battle.

Let’s revisit the word surrender. According to Merriam-Webster.com, two definitions are:
  • to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed
  • to give the control or use of (something) to someone else
That first definition really stands out to me: “…because you know that you will not win or succeed.”

When Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia ending the Civil War, it wasn’t because he’d been convinced his side was wrong and the north right. No, he surrendered because he knew he could not win.

Have you ever been there? As a parent of two teenagers (and my third child on the cusp) I feel that way more often than not lately. Like every parent, I have dreams and plans for my kids, but there’s nothing like the teen years to remind me that my dreams don’t matter a bit to them. My plans aren’t theirs.

My plans aren’t God’s, either. After losing many battles with the kids—and the Lord—I realize I cannot win. I have to surrender my kids and their futures to God, because on my own, I can’t succeed. I must—to paraphrase that second definition above—give the control of my kids’ futures to someone else. To them? Certainly not. But I know I can trust God with their futures, so I have surrendered them to the God who loves them much more than I can.

In Faith House, the main character, Sadie, faces a similar issue. When her home is flooded and nearly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, she decides to repair it, no matter what the cost, because the house holds the key to finding her long-lost, mentally ill father. I won’t give away the story, but at one point, Sadie really struggles:

She’d heard plenty of sermons over the years about surrendering to God. It was supposed to bring peace. That’s what they said. She didn’t feel peaceful—she felt battle-worn and defeated.
She couldn’t fight God. Today, He seemed like a schoolyard bully, and she, His weak, friendless victim.
Have you ever felt that way? Like surrender meant defeat? Sadie sure did, and frankly, I’ve felt that way, too. Some things I simply haven’t wanted to give up. But God is relentless in pursing his children. And as willful as I am, I’ve never regretted anything I’ve surrendered to Christ. While the word might be the same, there’s a big difference between surrendering to an enemy and surrendering to the one who loves us enough to die for us.

How about you? Has God ever had to pry something out of your white-knuckled grip? Are you sorry you gave it up? I’d love to know—what’s your story of surrender?

*****
Faith House

When Hurricane Sandy destroys Sadie’s home, she’s determined to restore it. She promised her dying grandmother she’d never abandon the house that is the only link to Sadie’s schizophrenic father—a man who disappeared twenty years ago.

Max has loved Sadie since grade school, but their mutual friend died when they were teens. A decade has passed, and he’s finally found her. This time, he won’t lose her—not to a flooded house hundreds of miles from home, or to her false hope as she awaits her father’s unlikely return.

When Sadie discovers her house is underinsured, she faces an impossible decision. Can she trust God enough to let go of her only connection to her dad? Can she trust Max enough to let go of her heart?



*****
Robin Patchen is the author of One Christmas Eve, and Faith House. Visit her website at www.robinpatchen.com.

You can purchase Faith House by clicking here.
You can purchase One Christmas Eve by clicking here.



29 comments:

  1. Hey, Robin! Enjoyed reading this article by you and I also enjoyed reading your new book Faith House. Anita B.

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  2. Great post. I felt God pressing me to surrender my writing - meaning he wanted me to stop writing completely - when I had my first child. I cried and pouted about it. Then I let it go. About a year later, I got an unexpected contract, and He reopened the door for me to write with an entirely new perspective on it. Now I try to hold my writing dreams loosely.

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    1. Wow, Julie, what a great story! Isn't it funny how God asked you to surrender writing--your dream--only to make that dream come true later? But in surrendering, your faith was tested--and proved. What a great example. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Awesome topic, Robin and great insight. Loved it!

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  4. Wow, Robin, what an excellent post. As a control freak, I've struggled with giving God control. I want to because, after all, He will always handle things the right way, but boy, is it ever hard to do!

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  5. It's terribly hard, isn't it, Linda? Especially when he asks us give surrender good things, things we're absolutely sure God wants for us. This fall, I had to surrender teaching bible study, and I had no idea why. I love teaching bible studies, but I just knew God was closing that door for the time being. In retrospect, I realize with all the craziness in my household this year, there is no way I could have led a bible study well. Meanwhile, God lifted up another godly woman to lead who'd never done it before--and who did an excellent job. Maybe he'll open that door for me again in the future. For now, I'll just go where he leads.

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  6. there is definitely a peace that comes when we learn to stop fighting and surrender. I agree it's sort of forced on us as parents of teenagers!

    Welcome to the Inkwell, Robin. Can you tell us how the idea of using Hurricane Sandy came to you?

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    1. You know, I've never been so affected by a news story that didn't really affect me before. I watched the news coverage of that storm for days just like the rest of the country. But then the storm passed and the news cycle moved on. But I kept thinking about how it hadn't moved on for the victims whose houses had been destroyed or damaged. So when Thanksgiving rolled around, I thought of all the people still displaced by the storm who wouldn't have their traditional holidays in their own homes. And when we were decorating the Christmas tree with all of our "heirloom" ornaments--you know the kinds the kids make when they're little that are really...not cute, but that are priceless because your kids made them? And I thought, how many ornaments and trees and Christmas decorations were destroyed in the flood? It stuck with me, so when it was time to come up with a Christmas story, it seemed a foregone conclusion that I would write about the aftermath of the hurricane. I'd done so much "research" anyway. (It's only research because I got to use it in a book. Otherwise, it was just me being obsessed with the storm. That's the good thing about being a writer!)

      I hope I did it justice. I mean, I've never lived in a flooded home, and I've never been to Staten Island, though I did live in New Jersey as a child, and I have been to New York a number of times. I had a fellow writer give me some tips about the storm so I could get the details right. In one scene, the heroine stops to watch a convoy of military vehicles pass. That's something I wouldn't have thought about without my Brooklyn friend's help.

      As to the rest of the elements of the story--I have no idea where they came from!

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  7. Thank you for visiting us today, Robin.Sometimes surrendering all is so hard for me. There are certain things I tend to hang on to, when it would be so much easier to surrender. Sigh....

    I really enjoyed One Christmas Eve, and am looking forward to reading Faith House.

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    1. Thanks, Suzie. I hope you enjoy it.

      I'm right there with you on this surrendering thing. I'll surrender something, then snatch it right back, like I don't trust God with it. After all these years as His child, I ought to know better! Alas, it's a process. I'm so glad we serve a patient, merciful God!

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  8. Great post Robin! I don't know why I always think I know best, if only God would do things my way. LOL. Thankfully, He doesn't. Both your book and your post have reminded me of the importance of trusting God's plans.

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    1. Thanks, Terri. I think we all think we know best, don't we? Learning we don't--that's a lifelong lesson.

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  9. Welcome to the Inkwell, Robin. Great post. I needed the reminder that my plans for my kids aren't God's plans and I need to surrender to Him! Not just in parenting, but everything. Thank you!

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    1. In everything, yes, Susanne. But I've never found anything more difficult to surrender than my kids. On the other hand, I've never felt more incompetent than I do in parenting. It's a weird combination, I think. Seems if I feel incompetent, I ought to surrender it, but the instinct is to hold on tighter.

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  10. Great post, Robin. You know what I'm surrendering to these days. Some days are certainly easier than others when it comes to trusting God's unique plan.

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    1. I do know, and I fear I'll be right there with you soon! :)

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  11. I'm not too good at the surrender thing... I tend to pick up the battle again, despite knowing I can't win *sigh*. And I KNOW God can handle things better. He's done it so much in my life. Thanks for the reminder about surrender and the benefits of actually doing that with God. Great post! Thanks for sharing too. Your book blurb is one that piques my interest.

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  12. I know what you mean! God knows everything, and compared to that, know almost nothing. So why do I think I know better? Silly human than I am.

    I'm glad the blurb interested you. I hope you enjoy the book.

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  13. What a great post on surrender...Thank you so much.

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  14. Excellent post, Robin! Surrender and trust go hand in hand for me. I find when I'm not surrendering, it's because I'm not trusting. And with my youngest getting his driver's license this month, it's one if those tests I'm going to get to take again! Thanks for the reminder that God is faithful, and trustworthy.

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    1. Oh, the dreaded driver's license. We did that 6 months ago. Terrifying, and it was a test of faith. So far, our son is doing well, and we're reminding ourselves often that God loves him more than we do.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Pegg. You say the nicest things.

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  16. Thank you, "Inkies," for the opportunity to visit your blog today. It's been a pleasure.

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