A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the Lean Into Jesus Ministries women’s conference, Surrendered in Christ. I have been to their events in the past, but this is the first time I’ve been alone. And it was an experience for sure. Speakers, skits, activities, and worship music were geared toward making us think about how to truly surrender ourselves to Christ. There’s just something about an all day Saturday worship. Surrounded by people who love God and want to be closer to Him and are willing to give up other activities they could be doing to be there. Surrounded by people in love with the Lord, on fire for God, willing and ready to submit and surrender.
Ms. Charlene Miller opened us with a prayer. Part of her prayer was giving thanks for women who were willing to do things that make them uncomfortable. (When the prayer lines up with the prayer you’ve been praying..) Then she prayed that everyone would find the freedom to worship freely. That hit me, as part of the reason I wanted to go alone was to be free to worship undistractedly, not worrying about who I was with and what they were thinking.
Surrender – truly turning your burdens over. Like, completely. In a battle, if a soldier surrenders, he becomes a prisoner of war. He loses his freedom and is forced to rely completely on his captor. When we surrender to Christ, the opposite happens. We are no longer captives, but set free. We are not forced to rely on Jesus, but make the decision to turn everything over to Him. It is for sure not easy. Completely letting go and letting God feels scary. The statement was made, “Freedom sometimes seems heavier than carrying your burdens around.” Because it’s in the realm of the unknown, until we experience it. And the unknown is scary. Letting go of that control is scary.
They did a skit where several ladies stood around having a conversation holding “heavy boulders” with words like “control”, “finances”, “family”, “addiction”, “time”, “relationships,” “purpose”, “past”, and other things we like to hold onto. A man portraying Jesus invited each of them to let him take those burdens from them. And as they did, a great weight was lifted. Later in the day, the lady who had “control” went back and tried to pick it back up and carry it again. “Jesus” told her that it wasn’t hers to carry, to let him keep it. How often do we do that? We pray and “give it to God”, but we don’t really let go of it. He wants us to turn it all over to Him.
The first speaker, Laurie Bishop, talked about threshold moments – moments in time when something happens and things are never the same after. She referenced Ephesians 3:20, and reminded us that God works within us. She used the 66th, 71st, and 105th Psalms to remind us that we should always tell about God and what He has done for us. She said when we pray God’s will, we are asking for the best for our lives. He knows what we need and what is best for us. Anything else is settling. We should also pray for God’s peace when His will doesn’t line up with our desires. Self-sacrifice leads to finding our true selves. When we align ourselves with God’s will, and give ourselves fully to Him, we will bear the fruit of the Spirit. Laurie said, “When you surrender, you get to step back and let God be God.”
The next speaker, Dana Hill, told us about Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. She went to Genesis 22, where Abraham was called by God to sacrifice his son, but God ended up providing the sacrifice. Abraham feared God, trusted God, obeyed God, and He calls us to that same place of surrender. She asked us, “Who am I to argue with God?” And told us, “Your surrender affects the people around you.” She went to Isaiah 43, where we find God essentially saying, “Don’t fear. I have redeemed you. You are mine.” He is Jehovah Jireh, always enough, forever enough, more than enough. He takes care of us.
The last speaker was Vicki Mann. She told us that surrender is a journey that begins and ends with freedom. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” What is freedom? It means we are no longer slaves to bondage – whatever ties us down and prohibits us from receiving anything else. Bondage can be anything. It can be our past, our relationships, how we were raised, shame, addiction – whatever it is that keeps us from moving forward. She said, “Sometimes we think we’ve been living in freedom just to realize our bondage has taken another form.” She referenced John 8:31vf, which reminds us we are free in the Truth. When we hold on to whatever it is holding us back, we are refusing to surrender to God what is already His. (Remember, those burdens aren’t ours to carry.) When we look for our own way to freedom, instead of The Way, it tightens the restraints of our bondage. We find freedom in the Lord, and His Spirit makes us more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). We can’t ask God to use us while refusing to give ourselves completely to Him. Sometimes He forces us to surrender what we refuse to give Him. He doesn’t want us to give up our personalities, but to use the personalities and traits He gave us to bring Him glory. She also gave us the illustration, “We can’t paint all of our fence posts at once.” Meaning, we can’t change everything at once. Sometimes we have to focus on one thing at a time. She asked us what does freedom look like to you? and what do you need to surrender. My prayer is that God will open my hands to release my own desires and fears and to receive His blessings. Letting go of fear leads to surrender which ultimately leads to peace.
Our burdens are not our identities. Our identity is in our freedom in Christ. We can find the strength to let go through Him.
Lord, help me let go of my fear of conflict, to stop creating the illusion of peace instead of reaching for Your perfect peace. Help me stop making myself small, and instead help me grow and SHINE through You. Allow me to let myself break, instead of trying to hold myself together so You can mold me into what You’d have me be.