Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to be going your way or according to plan? Those moments when a particular person or situation has brought you to the end of your rope? You are frustrated, exasperated, and fed up! Perhaps your frustration has led to an outburst of emotion or words that you now wish you could rewind and take back.
Several years ago while reading a biography on the life of Amy Carmichael, I discovered a quote that got my attention! Amy was a missionary to the orphans of India in the 19th century. She faced numerous difficulties, not only on the mission field but also a single woman during this time period. Whenever faced with a difficult or unexpected circumstance, Amy would view it as an opportunity to die to self and allow the Lord Jesus to reign at that moment —”see in it a chance to die” she would say. As I contemplated this quote, God brought to mind some verses of Scripture. I copied the quote and those verses and tacked them above my desk in the kitchen. Over the weeks, I added verses as the Lord brought them to mind. Here was the list I tacked above my desk:
“See in it a chance to die.” —Amy Carmichael
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. —Galatians 2:20
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. —Galatians 5:24-25
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3
Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. Psalm 46:10
I thought this is good stuff! This could change my outlook and attitude. As is par for the course, the Lord gave me an opportunity to put these great ideas and thoughts I’d been mulling over into action very quickly! Now begins the not so pretty and not so fun part!
On a particularly frustrating day, I had come to the end of my rope! I had “had it”! I was frustrated, exasperated, and just plain tired! Circumstances were leaping beyond my control. People were NOT cooperating with my plans! My expectations for things had just collided with reality and it was explosive! So, I sat down at the table and began pouring out my frustrations and thoughts to the Lord. I looked up to see this quote and verses tacked above my desk. So I asked the Lord what He would have me to do. Here are my thoughts that found their way to the page that day in the form of a prayer of commitment to the Lord:
Today, I cease striving.
Today, I quit trying to be the fixer of all relationships.
Today, I quit trying to “win” the war (and the battles).
Today, I quit justifying and trying to reorient the thinking and perceptions of others when I feel they “just don’t get it”.
Today, I lay it all down at the feet of the Lord.
Today, I surrender, release and find rest in God alone.
Lord, fill this void in me and be my ALL.
As my day continued and frustration and disappointment continued to thwart my plans, I reminded myself to “see in it a chance to die”. I’d even repeat that back to the Lord. And in those moments of surrender, I experienced a peace and inner tranquility in my life that I know was from the Lord alone! My blood pressure lowered, my heart rate slowed, I could take a deep breath and continue about my day without an explosion of words or emotions I’d regret. It was peaceful and felt good! Now let me say, very emphatically, this is not a quick fix, one-time prayer, “name it, it claim it” kind of formula. But rather it is a choice. A daily—moment by moment—choice to surrender my will, my plans, and my expectations to the Lord. It’s recognizing and admitting when “self” has reared its ugly head and then choosing to “see in it a chance to die” —whatever that “it” may be. When I do this, instead of my “flesh” reigning, God’s Spirit reigns in me. And I experience His peace, joy, contentment, and comfort. The more I practice it, the easier it becomes. When I do this I am making it a continual, conscious practice to take God as His Word and to trust and rely on His character to guide my thoughts and reactions. I’m replacing my ideas and thoughts with His. I’m renewing my mind and Spirit using the Word of God and the power of prayer.
Whenever I try to maintain control and focus on “MY” expectations regarding a relationship or circumstance, I am in essence saying “it is all about me!” We don’t like to hear this because so often we disguise our desire to control behind a mask of wanting to help others or a desire to help “better a situation or relationship”. And this can be true. However, if we are having trouble letting go of our “plan” or our “expectations” in a situation, then “self” has probably reared its ugly head. Then the ultimate goal is really wanting it “my way”. Jesus calls us to a different way of life. And He promises to be there with us every step of the way. He will never let us down or abandon us.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. —Matthew 11:28-30
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. —Deuteronomy 31:6
Thinking we have the ability to control situations and people is really just an illusion. Only God is truly sovereign and in control of all things. Only He has the knowledge, power, and ability to control not only our lives but the entire universe.
Perhaps my prayer, on that frustrating day, needs to be your cry before the Lord and a commitment to surrender the reigns. Let the Lord replace your expectations, plans, and need to control with His, and you will experience the peace and freedom that only He can provide.
©2014 Susan Cady