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June 2019, I was in a shattered and broken place of figment dreams, heightened comparisons, overwhelming circumstances, and an unthinkable mindset. I was paralyzed by fear, anxiety, and depression, and prematurely experiencing what I would later call Generalized Anxiety Disorder. 

During this time, I came to the difficult realization that sometimes God’s will for our lives is not the (insert your name here) ______ will we have set for ourselves. And the scary thing is, we have to surrender our sinful, tainted, and selfish will of the worldly flesh to be okay with that.

All my life, for instance, I can tell you three solid facts that have always been true. 

  1. I’ve always been a writer and felt called to pursue that as a career.
  2. I’ve always been a dancer and felt called to continue that through ministry.
  3. I’ve never wanted children because I felt a calling that God had something different in mind for my future. 

Yet, when I think about it, fully surrendering to His will, His way, means that if at any moment God takes away my ability to write or dance, or not fulfilling those callings, that I have to be okay with that. 

Now, of course, I don’t believe that a good God would take away good desires that align with His will. But the point, is I am not the one in control of my life, and even when my desires are on track with His, I have to surrender the authority that whatever God decides to do with that is best for me. Even if that means not being a writer— or not flourishing a ministry– or having children if that desire within me changes. And in all honesty, that last one scares me more than you know and pushes me to a much deeper faith than I’ve ever known because I would do anything other than have that come true. 

What a tough pill to swallow.

But, as tears well up in my eyes and my heart pounds, I know that God has my best interest at heart and as long as I am continually and fully pursuing Him, He will watch and guide over me. He will always provide everything I need and more along the way. 

But if I expect Him to provide, He simply asks me to surrender my life.

And today, that means surrendering my goals, my dreams, my ambitions, my friends, my family, my boyfriend, my struggles, my negative thoughts that eat me alive, my brokenness, my questions, my decisions, my heart, my everything to Him in full acceptance that His will be done, even if it isn’t to the consent of my will that I think I want for my life.

Ouch. Yeah, that last one hurts a bit, doesn’t it?

In James 4:13-17 of the New International Version, James addresses this concept by encouraging those of the faith to live out their faith not just in word, but action and deed. 

Within this particular chapter, however, he also warns us to align our views with Christ, draw close to God, and then fully submit and surrender anything within us and our plans for this life so that we will not boast about our self-confidence, but the residing power of Christ in us. 

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:13-17, NIV). 

Did you catch that? 

Scripture tells us, “if the Lord wills”; it does not say “if Amber wills” or “if Amber desires,” or “if Amber demands.” It says, “if the Lord wills,” and that is a sharp command from the Father to rest in the promise that though I cannot control or boast in plan making, I can boast and rejoice in the one who does. 

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9, English Standard Version). 

And indeed, the less we listen to the mind of man and its way and the more we listen to Him, the more that the path ahead of us will be marked straight and He will lead us where we are meant to go (Proverbs 3:5-6; Proverbs 4:25, Easy Read Version).

So, what does this mean for us? How can we as selfish and prideful humans be entirely sold out and wholeheartedly devoted to Him, no matter the will he has in store? We T.R.U.S.T.

  1. We THANK God – Even when things are going wrong, and we feel like our world is ending, it is crucial to praise God. Thank God, you might be questioning, doesn’t that sound a bit odd? Shouldn’t I be telling God what want? On the contrary of how it seems or feels though, thanking God in both sorrow and joy strengthens our faith. Isaiah 40:29 reminds us that, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless” (Isaiah 40:29, NLT). Just like Solomon praised God before the victory in 2 Chronicles 7:1-11 ((God doesn’t answer Him directly until verse 12, yet he praises in the waiting! Check this out in Sadie Robertson’s-Don’t Waste the Waiting Sermon:, we too can thank God when nothing else makes sense because, at the core of our issues, He is still good. He is still worthy. His will is always best.
  2. We REMEMBER God- Once we have thanked God in our sorrow or joy about the never-ending scenarios that haunt us, we remember who God is regardless of how our emotions are telling us that we feel. His plan might include that job, spouse, or plan that you have, or it might utterly flip those things upside down. Yet regardless of these things, we can know and trust that God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18, NIV), God will provide strength (Isaiah 40:30-31, NLT), God will provide for His will (Isaiah 40:27-28, NLT), God does call us by name (Isaiah 40:26, NLT), His Word does bring life (Proverbs 3:1-3, He does hold all wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 9:10-11), and nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love He has for us (Romans 8:31-39, NLT). Those plans you made? They may fall through. Those desires you have? They may change. That guy or girl you love? They may not be in the future. But by resting in who God is, we have everything we need (2 Peter 1:3, CEB).
  3. We seek to UNDERSTAND God- After praising and reflecting on who Scripture tells us God is, it is time to dip deep into His Word and seek to follow Him. Taking time to pray, journal, and read His Word pours profound spiritual truths into our hungry and thirsty souls that only God can satisfy. Scripture tells us that “man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that that comes out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, NIV). When we seek to understand God and want what He alone wants for us, we are less likely to be overwhelmed by the thoughts and plans we try to carry out on our own.
  4. We SURRENDER and SUBMIT to Him- Through thanking, remembering, and seeking to understand God, it is only with surrender and submission to Him that we can find true surrender. Here, we must be willing to lay down the plans we have for ourselves, and authentically know that even if our dreams, hopes, and ideas come crashing down, He will provide. When we surrender to God, we are saying, “thy will be done, even if it isn’t my will.” When we submit to Him, we accept whatever plans He has in-store to replace that. But these things, I must tell you, are not easy. They aren’t like ripping a band-aid off a healed wound. They are more like tearing it off of an injury that hasn’t healed yet. Despite this pain, when we do these things, our faith, love, and trust in Christ will grow. Daily, yes daily, we must surrender our ideals to Him, and with that, submit to whatever He has planned for our future. To obey, and fully submit oneself to that which lay ahead.
  5. We THANK God again and TASTE His goodness- Finally, after we release everything of ourselves and accept everything that He alone is, we are given the freedom to thank God again for what He will do and taste the fruit of His goodness. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Biblical fruits of the spirit we sang as a child, but honestly, His fruit is good, and He desires to give us good gifts! No matter the circumstance, pain, or joy, those who follow Christ will be rewarded for their faithfulness to Him. Psalms 34:8 remarks, “Taste and see that the Lord is good,” and not to taste by milk, bread, or water, but by the mature milk, the bread of life, and living water that never ends. Taste the goodness of Him who provides, even before you see the fruition of His promises.

Though I keep questioning, though a million and one thoughts press into my mind and anxiety grips my soul like the dark of the night, I rest in the promise that although my inquiries grow, He alone is the answer I am looking for. 

His Will, His Way is the answer, and no matter what my will wants, He knows best for me.

Rest in that today, my friend. He is a God of goodness and mercy and surely has nothing less than a perfectly planned will set in the eternity of your future for you today.