Trusting God is an act of worship.
~ quote from a church sign
I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I’d been attending a conference at The Cove in North Carolina, led by Ann Graham Lotz, where she was teaching through the book of Joshua. I was familiar with the story of the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings, but I’d never heard the story of God stopping the flow of the Jordan River at flood stage to allow the Jews to cross over into the Promised Land.
Wow. God not only miraculously parted the Red Sea to free His people from slavery, He also cut off the water supply to the Jordan so they could experience the great work of God themselves. Rather than relying only on the stories their parents’ relayed to them, God showed up again, proving He was still there, ready to offer protection and victory. But first, they had to cross the Jordan.
At the end of her teaching that day, Ann asked if we’d crossed over into our Promised Land; the land of blessings God has for each of us. I was sure of my salvation, but couldn’t get a peace about crossing my own Jordan River. Have I done all that God has asked of me?
That evening, as I reflected on the days’ lesson, I knew God was trying to get my attention. The turmoil in my spirit was relentless.
The next morning our group convened once again for a question and answer session with Ann. About half-way through our time together, one woman asked if Ann ever used visual illustrations to enhance her teaching. Ann immediately remembered debating about using one on the previous day’s lesson, but at the last minute had decided against it. Then she proceeded to draw the presentation she’d left out.
She drew two squiggly horizontal lines to represent the Jordan River; one side labeled the Promised Land and the other wilderness. She explained that even though all of us long for the Promised Land, only a few obediently cross it when God calls us to do so. They are the ones who make it into thier Promised Land. Then there are those who come from the wilderness to the edge of the bank of the Jordan and eventually turn and head back, preferring their previous life to the fear of what may lie ahead.
In the next illustration she explained that there are others who get through the wilderness, but once faced with crossing the Jordan, pace back and forth along the river, not able to surrender wholly to God’s will for them. These people may be holding onto something so dear, they’re afraid to release it into God’s hands.
Bam! There it was– my children; six-year old Elise and three-year old Jacob. That’s who I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t trust Him enough to take care of them. And the only way to make it into my Promised Land of victory and blessing was to give them to God.
As soon as the session was over, Ann stayed for those of us who wanted to talk with her. Anxiously standing in line to share what I’d just learned from her illustration, I still didn’t see how I could let go of my kids.
When I finally stepped in front of Ann and explained my heart of distrust, she looked at me tenderly and said, “Oh, Carol. God loves those children more than you do. Don’t hang onto them and not allow the fullness of God’s blessings in your life or theirs.”
Tears spilled down my cheeks as I took in her words. I’d never thought of that before. As impossible as it seemed, I knew God loved my children more than I did and was asking me to surrender them to Him. Ann prayed with me to have the courage to do just that.
When she was finished she looked at me with her piercing blue eyes.”I want to warn you–when you come down from this mountain, Satan is going to test you. Don’t give in. Remember, instead, to give it to God.”
I was relieved to have finally surrendered myself to God and didn’t think too much about that statement until the next evening.
I’d rounded up my children for bath time and was happily talking and singing with them when I felt a large lump in my six-year old daughter’s chest. My blood ran cold as Ann’s words echoed through my mind. I had a decision to make. Was I going to hang onto this paralyzing fear, or was I going to surrender my child to Him. Thoughts of Abraham laying his son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice exploded into my mind. Could I do the same?
After wrestling with these thoughts, I silently told God these children were His, and I meant it. They’d been given to me and my husband as a gift and I knew He had a purpose and a plan for each of them. Suddenly a flood of peace washed over me. I knew God was in control of the situation.
I’m pleased to say everything turned out okay for Elise. There was no reason for concern and the lump eventually went away on its own.
But I’ve never been the same. Sure, I still have anxious moments when I worry about my kids, but I know who holds their future and when those worries surface, I remind myself that He loves them most.
Have you ever had a moment when God asked you to completely surrender someone or something to Him? I’d love to hear your story.