Straight from a Surrendered Heart
By Lisa Elliott
Ever played God? Let me rephrase that? Have you ever gone beyond simply letting your requests be made known to Him, like we read in Philippians 4:6-7, and told Him how He should be conducting a matter? Instructing Him on how to be God? (Is. 40:13, Rom. 11:34, 1 Cor. 2:16).
You know the matter I’m referring to. It’s the one that fills every corner of your prayer closet. It’s that all-consuming request that keeps you awake at night, welcomes you to breakfast first thing in the morning, and keeps your adrenalin pumping, your heart racing, your head pounding, and your blood pressure escalating throughout every moment of every day. It’s the matter that your best friend anticipates and braces herself/himself for every time you speak with one another. It’s the prayer request that is so all-consuming that you have no room in your mental or emotional space for anything else, much less any room for the Lord to enter into the conversation about it? Yeah. That one.
Furthermore, how do you respond when the Lord does enter the conversation? What if He doesn’t seem to see things the way you do? What if His response is not what you want to hear on the matter?
I’ve come face-to-face with this all-consuming dilemma as recently as today! And I have to admit, it’s as much of a challenge today as it was when I first learned it—eight years ago when my son, Ben battled leukemia.
The antidote I discovered is found in the account of Jesus’ late arrival to prevent his friend Lazarus’ death (John 11:1-47). I speak further about it in my book, Dancing in the Rain. It’s in the context of a brief conversation between Jesus and one of Lazarus’ two sisters. A woman I’ve grown to know and love. This conversation took place between Jesus and Martha. And it holds a powerful truth worth sharing.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Martha obviously believed in Jesus’ ability to perform miracles. She believed God was able. She knew He could have prevented her brother’s death. She just didn’t quite comprehend why He hadn’t. And no doubt the matter consumed her. But thankfully she had a change of heart. Or perhaps it was more of a change of mind—a surrender. She uses two simple, life-changing, perspective-renewing, mind-transforming words that indicate this heart surrender: “Even now.”
Like Martha, during the year my son was sick my fervent and all-consuming prayer was that God would heal him. However, the Lord used Martha to show me the balance between believing that God could heal Ben but—even if He didn’t—still be worthy of my faith in Him. Surrender: a “not my will but Thine be done” moment. And that changes everything.
The fact is God can do anything He wants to do. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord (Jer. 32:17). And, in fact, over and over again we read that with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26; Luke 1:37; 18:27). It’s a truth that those listed in Hebrews 11’s Great Hall of Faith knew and trusted in although “They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance (Heb. 11:13).” It’s a truth that Martha obviously believed in and one that I’ll never forget. But one I need to be reminded of often. As Steven Curtis Chapman so well puts it in one of his songs, “God is God and I am not.” Hmm. A profound truth isn’t it?
I don’t know what that all-consuming prayer request of yours is. But let me assure you that even if God doesn’t change your circumstances, He can certainly change your perspective as you simply let Him be God; surrendering your will in exchange for His—even now.
…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom. 12:2b).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org