“... yet not my will, but yours be done.” -Luke 22:42
My husband, the pastor, stepped to the platform on a regular Sunday morning following the music part of worship when the Holy Spirit whispered to his heart, “Your work here is done.” He was stunned for a second at the timing of the statement, but he gathered his composure and proceeded to preach the message and wrap up the Sunday service. He didn’t tell me about the impression of God for two weeks.
We spent the previous seven years revitalizing a rural church. God moved the church through a building project, stewardship campaign, implemented a thriving Kids ministry, and brought the Sunday attendance from 40 to 180 under our leadership. Our children were doing well, we had just received a raise, and the church changed the bylaws so we could stay indefinitely. Our course was set, and we were content.
And just like that, God said we were done.
My husband didn’t tell me right away because he wanted time to process and pray. I was shocked when he told me. All my dreams of the future were crushed. We would move and need to start all over again. My heart was weary of starting over, but when we answered the call to full-time ministry, we knew our lives were no longer our own. We desired to be in God’s will more than anything, and so we began to pray and wait, each day exchanging our plans for His.
Part of the refining process for most of us will involve dying to our wants. And isn’t it this why refining is so painful? We have a vision, a plan, and a course set out and then suddenly it all changes. Why is change so jarring, and why is surrender so difficult? Why is it so hard to trust the good plans of God?
How do we set aside our agendas and wants?
All refining is designed to remove a faulty view of God and to help us become less selfish. If we allow God to do the work on our hearts, we'll watch Him strip back our unhealthy views of Him, views that need to be removed so we can see who He truly is. We have two options when faced with pain. We can run to God and seek His heart, or we can grow disillusioned and walk away.
His heart is not to wound, disappoint, or alienate us. God’s heart is to help us see Him in His fullness. He wants to reveal things about Himself in the secret place where we and He dwell with fellowship.
It takes intentional steps to die to our own desires because our flesh is strong and it demands what it wants. But as children of God, we are to walk by the Spirit. Some of our refining seasons could be shortened simply by the act of surrender.
Dying to our wants looks like quiet, focused attention on God. It looks like pouring out the pain in our heart and walking through the heartache with Him. God longs to be with us. He’s not upset with our questions or concerns. He invites us to share our honest souls. Once we do that, then He will reveal His heart for us.
God responds to hearts surrendered to His will and His ways. As we surrender to His purposes, His goodness and love, peace is the byproduct. We need to allow the season of refining to draw us to Him, and be intentional about surrender. Once we surrender, we are free to receive all the good God has for us ahead.
Dear Papa, Surrendering is so hard for me because I think I know what’s best for my life. Help me to lean in close to You as You refine this part of my character. I want to trust You in all things and trust the good plans You have for Me. Teach me who You are and help me run to You and not away from You in my pain. Help me have the courage to surrender my plans to You. Amen.
Maybe this will help.
I’ve included a guide to help you navigate your refining season. Click on the image below and leave your name and email where it says “Free Encouragement”, so I know where to send it. Then head to your email and confirm your subscription and you find a free printable resource at the bottom of the email. Just click on “free gift.”