It's not a word that's well-loved. Yet it's foundational to the Christian faith.
Mark 8:34-35, "And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it."
Sounds pretty negative, doesn't it?
Actually, it turns out, it's just the opposite! Don't believe me? Pray for surrender and then watch God move.
I rather believe that one can try to surrender all one wants, but it's God that has to move it in one's heart. It's so unnatural. Surrender - what does that mean? It means relying on and trusting God to do what you cannot. And we cannot do much.
John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
Nothing. Yep. That's us. That's ok, because God can do anything!
Luke 1:37, "For with God nothing shall be impossible."
Matthew 17:19-21, "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
I have tried to surrender. I have tried to trust God. I thought I had. But doubt and fear kept stymying me. God has shown me what surrender is really like. It came in a quiet wave, when I stopped trying.
He worked on me all last year, showing me Himself, answering prayers, removing doubts, giving me an amazing prayer partner in Esther Nuckles, who has mentored me in the faith.
Then, Emory happened. I firmly believe that grad school is God's training ground for me, not only in chemistry, but in faith.
God answered prayers I'd been praying for three years very specifically, one after another - bam, bam, bam, bam - and my mouth dropped open. He lined up everything I asked for and then some. I've never seen God move so strongly in my whole life. I saw it and clung to it in that instant, thanking Him for doing it. I think that's what sealed it. God does a lot for us in our lives that we never recognize and don't claim as His.
In that moment, I surrendered, and didn't even know it. I felt like a different person. I suddenly trusted God - really trusted Him - for the first time in my life. Things I had been afraid of before suddenly didn't matter any more. If God could do this - I knew He really could do anything.
What This Has Meant
I'm still not completely surrendered in EVERY way. But God is working on me, helping me to surrender more deeply to Him each day. Surrender is absolutely not a bad thing. Oh my goodness. I cannot tell you how much more alive I feel today than a year ago.
Surrender means that you get up every day and talk excitedly with God about the day, and cannot wait to see what miracle He is going to pull off today. Look for them every day. If you look for them, you'll start to see them. Life only starts to become truly exciting and real and alive, when you surrender to God.
Journal yours prayers. God answers prayers all the time that we forgot that we prayed.
How God Is Using It and What's Been Different
I used to think that God couldn't teach me. Oh, I knew He could technically, but I didn't really believe it. "How can someone who I cannot see or hear teach me anything," I used to think as a kid.
But I've discovered recently that God can teach me a lot better and faster than anyone else. Contrary to what I thought, He knows how to speak to me in just the ways that He knows I hear.
Reading Mark Virkler's book, "How to Hear God's Voice," about 3 years ago began the process of helping me to hear God better. It's been very slow. God speaks to me through Scripture, through other people and through thoughts/feelings that pop into my mind. Now that I've surrendered more fully, I've been hearing Him better every day. I've been praying for more discernment. I still slip up sometimes, misinterpreting my own voice for God. But He's been helping me with that too and I know He'll bring me there.
Psalm 37:23-24 "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand."
The Lord is bigger, even than our weaknesses. And what He has started, He will finish.
What Has God Been Saying?
"He just won't shut up," a thought popped into my mind this week. But that was the Enemy (satan). He doesn't like God very much.
You know whom I most want to be like these days? George Washington Carver. Mark Batterson's book, "Draw the Circle," reminded me that he was a believer in Jesus. He woke up every morning at 4 a.m. and took long walks praying to God. I love taking walks and praying. He asked God to teach him about science, His creation and specifically, why He made the peanut. And God told him! He developed 300 uses for the peanut that no one ever knew existed. But God knew.
"Draw the Circle" also mentioned how when a God-thought comes our way, we have to seize it, take it captive, hold onto it and do something about it. Don't just sit on it.
Every day, I ask God to teach me about science: I ask Him this generally and I also ask Him lots and lots of specific questions. I ask Him to teach me about the things He made out of science articles I read. After all, He made this stuff. He knows it better than the scientists do. And, I know that if I ever have a good idea, it'll be because He gave it to me.
I find that God leads me specifically to certain science articles and says, "Read this." And, when I do, He points stuff out and tells me to circle it. Certain things, I'm still not sure why they are important. Other articles He's told me about I've gotten some really cool new insight and been excited. I love savoring the Lord's work with Him, praising Him about how cool what He made is. There's nothing that makes more more excited in all of life than learning something new about what He made.
This last week has just been a blast. I feel like every day with God is a new adventure and He tells me all the time, "Watch this! If you thought that was cool, just wait until you see what I'm going to do today!" And I'm like, "All right, let's go! I can't wait either!"
You know how you can think thoughts in your mind, like in literal words, or sometimes you can just "know" a thought completely, without thinking any words to it? It's a lot faster to think that way. Well, that kind of "knowing" thought, is how I feel God speaks to me a lot. It's kind of like a feeling, but isn't, and you can interpret it into words, but it isn't words, if that makes sense.
A lot of times, I'll get worked up or stressed out about something. I'll feel in my spirit a peace settle over me and a feeling from God that says, "Be at peace. I got this." I've been learning to interpret words to what He tells me. It's hard to explain.
Last Friday, May 31st, a Special Day with God
He gave me my favorite type of filled doughnut on Friday morning.
I was going to get coffee after reading the Bible and praying and felt like I forgot something. I suddenly felt Him tapping me on the shoulder, as it were, and saying, "You forgot to listen for me." I was like, "Oh! Yeah!" He said, "Get your coffee. Then come on back up and let's talk." There were donuts down there - really fresh ones, that Steve in the stock room got. He said the filled ones were lemon, he thought. But I took one and bit into it and it was cream cheese! My favorite! God said to me then, "I can do more than just give you good donuts."
It was then, when I went back up and sat down, pulled out my notebook and waited for God to speak, that He told me all kinds of things.
He said He's about to blow stuff apart in big ways, and Friday, May 31, 2013, was the start of it. He was changing things. It was like a snowball rolling downhill. And I was there to be the catalyst. He said He'd point the signs out to me and I'd know when I saw it, and He and I would be like two conspiring friends grinning at each other. Not exact words - but that's what I felt Him say.
He's told me other things, that I'll keep to myself, because they're personal to me.
He told me that my gel would work that day, because He had "more important things for me to be doing than optimizing that gel." I can't wait to see what that means.
He told me what field of science He wants me in. I was reading the article, "Five challenges to bringing single-molecule force spectroscopy into living cells," which He pointed out. There was a line in there that said, "This will entail bringing together nanoscale science, biophysics, engineering, and molecular and cell biology." God told me when I read it, "See that? That's the field I want you in." It's a combination of fields. I told him, "Great! I like those." I feel like I could feel His smile and He said. "I know."
Later, He told me to be in a meeting on Friday, one Kornelia invited me to - sub-group meeting of the lab on integrins, with some people presenting. Kornelia invited me, and immediately, I felt Him say, "I want you in that meeting." So I went, even though I couldn't get in there on time, which frustrated me to no end. But it was ok. God had me covered.
Eric Liddell, missionary and marathon runner who won a gold medal at the Olympics, once said he felt God's pleasure when he ran. I feel it most strongly when I learn science. It's intoxicating. I feel as if that's what I'm here to do. It's the thing He gave me that most strongly reflect His glory back to Him. I want to learn with all my being from God Himself about His world and bless others with it.
I cannot wait to see what He's going to do this week! And I cannot wait to learn what He's teaching me. God is so much more awesome than most of us ever realize. These days, it brings me to tears of joy every week.