A Great, Good, Trustworthy God
Let’s say you need an operation on your heart. You can’t do it yourself, obviously. You’re going to have to trust a professional to open you up and fix whatever is wrong. You probably have a few criteria for someone who will crack your chest and take your heart in their hands, right? At minimum, he or she is going to need many years of study, a current medical license, and maybe a little gray hair. It would also be reassuring if they were considered top in their field. Better yet, maybe they’ve operated on someone you know, so you’ve seen the results of their expertise firsthand. Or perhaps they’ve developed and perfected the very procedure or technique they’ll be using on you. (Extra points if it is named after them and written up in medical journals!)
Way before the moment the anesthesiologist comes in to put you to sleep, I’m guessing you will have surfed the internet and learned as much as you can about your surgeon: how many times they’ve done this operation, what kind of success they’ve had, where they studied, and how other patients have rated them. You will have met Dr. So-and-So at least once and asked whatever questions you have about this scary thing that is far, far beyond your ability to control.
While you are unconscious, that doctor will be working hard on your behalf. You won’t contribute a thing, as you will have surrendered 100 percent control of your surgery to someone else. This is as surrendered as most of us will ever get, and as much research as we might have done, we will still be giving up control to a stranger.
As unnatural as it may feel, you and I are created to consciously surrender control of our lives — heart, mind, body, and spirit — to God.
Not to a theory or a force or the cosmos. To the one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — who has created us, loves us, and set a plan in place to draw us to himself and care for us forever. He knows and wants to be known by us. This is made possible through the person of His Son, Jesus. It’s not enough for us to just know about Him. We aren’t convinced to trust by what other people tell us about God or what we’ve read in books.
We come to trust Him when we know Him by experience.
Anyone who’s had a child knows that it’s one thing to love your child before you meet him or her for the first time. But it’s another thing altogether to hold that child in your arms. Until your baby is finally yours at birth or adoption, you love them, sure, but with a vague and hopeful kind of love, a love that is deeply and sincerely felt but pretty short on specifics.
Our entire family fell in love with Timothy from the moment we knew we were expecting another child. Once Martin and I got over the shocking idea that we’d be parents of a newborn again, we were smitten. Josie, Ben, and Griffin kissed, patted, and talked to the bump that was Timothy for months. In the same way, we’ve been crazy about each one of our kids from the first day we knew they existed. But staring at an ultrasound image is not the same as holding the perfect, squishy little person you’ve carried for nine months or dreamed of for longer.
Once your baby arrives, you’re no longer dreaming. You come to love particular things about them — like the funny sound of their hiccups, the cute dimple in their chin, the warm weight of their sleepy body in your arms, and in Timothy’s case, even the tiny split from his nose to his upper lip that only weeks before his birth had almost frightened us to death. We love this boy and his unique presence in our lives.
If you asked any one of us why we love him, we could tell you — talking for days, and in more detail than you might be willing to sit still for! Josie thought her new baby brother was so special that she asked me to bring him to her classroom show-and-tell when he was only a few weeks old — and I did. (Yes, these are the things you’ll do with number four that you wouldn’t have even considered with your first!) She wanted her classmates to know her baby brother, too, and I understood why.
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Over time, I’ve come to know a very real God through my experiences with Him and through His Word. He’s not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; he’s my God too. He didn’t just part the Red Sea for Israel when they faced sure death by Pharaoh’s army; He’s also made a way for me in more “impossible” situations than I can count.
I love the story of how He guided His people in the wilderness with a cloud by day and fire by night. And when I’m lost or confused or don’t know which way to go, He guides me too. It matters that He’s the God of history, for sure — but it matters just as much that we have history, Him and me, and that I know His goodness and power and faithfulness, not just from my study of Him, but from my life with Him.
I’m especially encouraged by the Psalms — the very personal journals of men like King David and Solomon, Asaph and Aleph — and the reassurances they hold of a God who is near. It comforts me to read words like these:
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast. — Psalm 139:7-10 NIV
Reading about this ever-present God is great — but reading about Him is only part of the story. It comforts me to feel that “even there” presence David described when I long to know I am not alone. It matters that the God who can locate a king, who rises on the wings of the dawn, or who settles on the far side of the sea can find me, driving carpool in the north Atlanta suburbs, just as easily.
Surrender to this God is not a once-for-all, do-it-yourself exercise in self-will. It’s an offering that’s continually undertaken in the context of relationship. The one I am surrendering myself to is no stranger: He is the God of “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love,”1 as The Jesus Storybook Bible so beautifully describes Him.
The heroes of our faith didn’t trust this great, good God because they were told they should and they minded — they trusted Him because He had shown Himself to be great, good, and trustworthy. Not just once — over and over and over again.
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1. Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 36.
Excerpted with permission from I Give Up by Laura Story, copyright Laura Story Elvington.
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Are you holding tight to control? Ever since the Garden of Eden we women have tried to control our circumstances, right? But, we were created to live in surrender to God! No matter what you are going through, He is trustworthy! Come share your surrender story with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full
And, don’t forget to sign up for the I Give Up Online Bible Study!