Hannah’s Secret Chapter 4: Surrender. (Or, Just Imagine…)

Imagine this.

You become very sick and are fortunate enough to see a famous specialist. At your first appointment, you begin by saying, “Please take me as a patient. I’ll follow your directions as long as they make sense to me. In some circumstances, though, I’ll choose to judge things for myself and follow my own advice.”

That doctor would probably refuse to take your case, saying, “I can’t help you unless you put yourself into my hands without reserve and trust my directions completely.”

We need to put our lives completely into the hands of God, following his directions without reserve. Surrendering to him boils down to saying, under all circumstances, “Your will be done.”

If you don’t know God, that sort of obedience may look difficult or even scary. But to those who know him, it is a happy and restful choice, because:

He is your Father.

He loves you.

He knows what is best for you.

And it is in his power to take the very best care of you.

Suppose a child of yours came to you and said, “I’ve made up my mind to let you be in charge. I’m always going to obey you and do whatever you think best.” How would you feel? Would you say to yourself, “Aha, now I can make my little one miserable?” Of course not! You’d fill the life of that child with all that was good, doing your best despite any fallibility in your choices and limits in your power. Surely we ought to have more confidence in saying, “Your will be done,” to our heavenly Father than any child could have in saying it to an earthly parent.

Step one toward a life of peace is surrender. Step two is faith, faith that we have a Savior from the power of sin, faith that he is now our deliverer and Lord, and faith that he wants the best for us this very day.

We cannot achieve a happy life of trust and peace by some special effort or talent on our part. It is only received as a gift of God. A gift is of no benefit until it is recognized and utilized by its recipient. Here are two ways to lay hold of the gift you have been offered.

1. Say these words, “Jesus saves me now!” with the conviction that The Lord Jesus does the work of saving you in every moment.

2. Pray this prayer. “Lord Jesus, I believe you deliver me from all the care and unrest of my life. I believe you are stronger than sin and can keep me from falling. I give myself to you, holding nothing back, body soul and spirit. Make me into anything your love and wisdom chooses. I trust you completely starting now.”

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Hannah’s Secret, Chapter Two

Our job is to trust, and God’s part is to work.

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If we are to be delivered from the grip of sin, if it really is God’s plan to give us “everything good for doing his will” and to “work in us what is pleasing to him,[1] then we need to be transformed, and we certainly can’t transform ourselves.

Most of us have tried to make ourselves holy and have failed miserably. But God will do it if we put ourselves into his hands and trust him without reserve. When we trust, the Lord works, and a great deal is done, not by us, but by him. He disciplines and trains us by inward exercises and outward circumstances. He makes everything in our lives submit to his purpose of making us, day by day, into the image of Christ.

Sanctification, being made holy and set apart for God, is a matter of surrender and trust on our part, and a process of development on God’s part.[2] We must each become as a lump of clay in the hands of the Divine Potter, consciously surrendering to him and continually trusting him. Expect him to change you, making you into a vessel that honors him and is prepared for his purposes. 

His way of accomplishing what we have entrusted to him may be vastly different from the way we have in mind, but he knows best. We must trust him to use us and our circumstances. Otherwise, we will be as clay taken out of the hands of the Potter, wondering, even as we refuse his workings, why we are not complete and perfect vessels.

His pace may not be as swift as we would choose. Maturity is never reached in a moment but is the result of God’s Holy Spirit working within us. A lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter, is just what the potter wants it to be at any particular time during each hour of the process. Even in a state of incompletion, it pleases him; but it is very far from being matured into the vessel the potter intends to make it at last. We have to be patient.

Ask the Lord to work in you in whatever way he chooses. Then, by an exercise of faith, continue to surrender to him, following immediately any direction you know is from him. When we do that, we are pleasing God simply by our trust and submission. God has given us the gift of free will. Therefore, his work in us depends upon our choosing to submit to him. Still, we must understand clearly that it is God’s working within us, not our own work from our own determination, that is the cause of all I will cover in this book.

[1] Hebrews 13:21

[2]May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and will do it.”  I Thessalonians 5:23-24

Forgotten God


Steve makes a book report of sorts for every book he reads. Before he files it away, he sets it on my nightstand. That way, even if I don’t take time to read the whole volume, I benefit from his highlights. Most of the words Steve captures for me are quotes, since who’s going to make the point better than the author himself? So, today, I want to share a few of my notes and quotes from Forgotten God by Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski.[i]  Anything in italics is my take on what they had to say.

“God is not just one thing we add to the mix called life. He wants an invitation from us to permeate everything and every part of us.”  In this world of distraction, with our Enemy always doing his best to get our eyes off Christ, it’s so easy to partition life into that which God is allowed to permeate and that which we will keep to ourselves. What a mistake!

“When it comes down to it, many of us do not really want to be led by the Holy Spirit. Or, more fundamentally, many of us don’t want to be led by anyone other than ourselves.” Ouch! While that’s often true, it’s also senseless. Why wouldn’t we want the Creator of the Universe to be, always, leading us?

“We often choose to face life’s issues and circumstances in exactly the same way as someone without the Spirit of God. We worry, strive, and grieve no differently than unbelievers… Consciously or not, we essentially say to God, “I know You raised Christ from the dead; but the fact is my problems are just too much for You, and I need to deal with them by myself.” We may not say those words with our minds and hearts, but we do say them with our actions and our responses to crisis. Sometimes, when life doesn’t go as planned, I suffer a bit of panic or worry before I remember, “Oh, yeah, I guess God is in control of this as well.” Then I let go and peace returns, while I chide myself for not taking hold of that peace right away.

May this be the year you ask God to permeate your whole life, letting Him lead you day by day, and trusting him right away in every circumstance. That’s the best—really the only—way to have a Happy New Year! 

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[i] Chan, Francis, and Danae Yankoski. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. David C. Cook, 2015.

Rooted in the Right Place by Beth Smith (my mom!)

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Imagine this conversation between God and a typical Christian. (I’ll call him Chris.)

God: “What sort of person do you want to be?”

Chris: “I want to be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

God: “Terrific! That’s just what I created you to be. ‘Made any plans for becoming like that?”

Chris: “Well, I do as many good things as I can and try really hard not to do bad things.”

God: “How’s that working for you?”

(We’d all have to answer just like Chris) “Honestly, it isn’t working.”

God: “Well, let me remind you of why you’re failing. Apart from me you can do nothing. But, with me all things are possible. If you want to be that sort of person, to have that good fruit, you’ve got to be planted in the right place.”

Chris: “But, God, how do I get planted in the right place?”

Continue reading

Because I Leak

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When D. L. Moody was asked why he insisted that Christians needed to be filled constantly with the Holy Spirit, he answered, “Well, I need a continual infilling because I leak!”  

I leak sometimes. Are you leaking today? Has your spiritual tank already run dry? A word to the wise: we can’t fix ourselves. The sooner we realize that, the better off we’ll be. We need the Holy Spirit. He comforts and guides us. He reminds us of what Jesus has done for us and of our rights as children of the King.

Ask the Lord to refill you, to infuse you with new trust and peace and joy from the presence of his Holy Spirit. Ask him to take over! Begin each day, right away, before you ever leave your pillow, by acknowledging your weakness and surrendering to his control. Keep his presence in mind.

Meet each new challenge with prayer—right away, even in the midst of your busy day. You don’t need to be on your knees or in a place of silence to be in conversation with our Lord. We can’t see the Holy Spirit, and that can cause our trust to waver. But be encouraged by these words. They have encouraged me.

 “Trusting God is a decision, not a feeling that we want to have” (Joyce Meyer).

“We live by faith, not by sight” (Apostle Paul).

“There are two ruling principles of action—sight and faith…The life of every one of us is governed by one or the other of these principles…The Christian’s great days are the days when faith dominates, and our sad and bad days are the days when sight rules” (W. Graham Scroggie).

‘Hope this is a filled up, topped off, walking-by-faith day for you!

A Chance to Die*

Why would anyone want to assign such a title to a book? Well, Elisabeth Elliot did just that when she wrote about the life of Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India in the in early 1900’s. Let me share a few highlights from that book with you, paraphrased for clarity.

First a provocative quote by the author, Elisabeth Elliott: “Could it be that our vision, both physical and spiritual, has been compromised by the compelling images we see on ever-present video screens?” Elisabeth described the hope of an “unbroken walk with God,” a concept garnering great interest during Amy’s time. I wonder how much we seek the same these days. “Dying to self” is a difficult and unpopular proposition, made more so, perhaps, by all the media around us lauding an indulgent life.

Here’s a bit of what Amy had to say on the topic, encouraging those around her to trust the One who takes over when we take the chance to die to self.

  • Death to self means dead to all one’s natural earthly pains and hopes, dead to all voices, however dear, which would deafen our ear to His.
  • Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.
  • “When faced with hardship, our Lord has been so kind about other things that we cannot doubt but that He will care for this too.”

Finally, quoting Bishop Handley Moule in “Thoughts on Christianity” as he defines dying to self: “To displace self from the inner throne, and to enthrone Him: to make not the slightest compromise with the smallest sin. We aim at nothing less than to walk with God all day long…It is possible to cast every care on Him daily, and to be at peace amidst pressure, to see the will of God in everything, to put away all bitterness and clamor and evil speaking, daily and hourly.”

These are deep and challenging thoughts for me, but, as Amy once said, “Becoming dead to self results in being alive to God.”

And that is a very good trade.

*Elizabeth Elliott A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael. Revell, 1987.

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