Have you ever won the lottery?
No? Well, don’t feel bad – I haven’t either. (Of course, I hear you have to play to have a chance at winning, so maybe that has something to do with it.)
How about being chosen in a drawing, like at the Home and Garden’s Expo? You just fill out a little slip of paper, giving them all your personal information, then sit back and wait for a phone call. Sounds easy enough. I’d enjoying having new windows for my entire house.
Or even just the “guess how many jelly beans are in the jar” game? Nope. I’ve haven’t won that one either.
I’ve never been a lucky person.
My husband, on the other hand, now he was an altogether different story. He used to win drawings and prizes a lot. Until he married me.
Whatever your views on luck versus the sovereignty of God, there’s something inside each of us that loves to win. Be it small or big, we humans delight in attaining something of value.
Recently, I was wrestling through a life circumstance I wanted God to change. I thought this change would simplify life and add value to my days. I read and began memorizing the following verses – “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:25-26).
So, I waited. And I prayed. And I tried to change things on my own, which I guess isn’t really waiting on God.
Then I grew resentful when God didn’t bring the change I sought. I prayed and waited and tried some more.
And then I gave up.
God showed me that, while I love Him and desire to follow Him, I was fighting the direction He’d given. I was fighting Him.
You know, if I were God (and it’s a good thing I’m not), I’d be pretty irritated when my child wouldn’t follow my instructions. When, after lavishing goodness upon her, she kicked and squirmed and tried to run the other direction, I would find my patience growing thin.
But wonder of wonders, God didn’t treat me that way.
First Timothy 1:16 describes Jesus as “immensely patient.” And that’s exactly what I’ve found. With gentleness and grace, He led me to a place of surrender.
Oh, that word. Sometimes it makes me cringe. It feels so unnatural to surrender to someone else’s control. But this, like everything else in Christianity, is a matter of faith.
It’s a conscious choice to believe that the heart of God is good. To trust that He really does have my well being in mind. To act upon the belief that He sees the bigger picture and higher purpose.
I was waiting for God to grant me the “prize” for which I prayed. Instead, He gave me more of Himself. And I realized that Jesus is the prize, the treasure of infinite value.
People “surrender” many things for the chance at winning a prize – time, money, personal information…And any prize that we gain is temporal and sometimes worth very little.
But when Jesus asks us to surrender, He offers us in exchange the priceless gift of friendship with God.
Paul said “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
And might I add a side note? When I surrendered, I told God, “Lord, I’ll do what You ask. But I can’t keep living like this – discontent, restless, angry. You have to change my heart. I’ve been trying to change myself, to pull myself out of this pit. But I can’t do it. So You’ll have to.”
And that’s exactly what He did.
After that step of faith, God began restoring joy to my soul. Where there was striving, there is peace. Where there was resentment, there is rest. I don’t know what the future holds, or how He will lead tomorrow.
But I know He’s good. And that’s good enough for me.