When Will You Learn To Surrender?

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“My son, give me your heart,

And let your eyes observe my ways.”

-Proverbs 23:26 (English Standard Version)

A week ago, it was probably almost midnight. I had tons of energy because I decided to take an afternoon nap, so I decided to clean my room a bit to tire me out. I started with a paper bag on my desk that was full of scratch papers, some old documents that I had been reading, and some old receipts and bus tickets that I either forgot to throw away or to keep as “memorabilia” (yes, I am a bit of a sentimentalist when it comes to the little things). Then as I was throwing and keeping some files, I came across an old crumpled memo that I wrote maybe a few months or a year ago.

“When will you learn to surrender?” was written in all caps.

Those words resonated in an instant. I just turned 22 a week ago and it dawned upon me that most of my days in 2018 were battles – and most of these battles I fought all on my own. Despite someone who goes to church every Sunday, I realized that I was holding on to my own plans and my own decisions; to lean on my own understanding because I had that thought in my head that if I wanted things done right, then I better do it all myself. And so I did.

Throughout, whilst preparing for my application an ASEAN-based program, I had nearly planned my weeks as to what to do, what to rehearse, what to bring, what to remember, and the like. It was all me. It would sound normal to an average guy for someone to do tasks and decisions all alone, but ever since I graduated college, I learned to completely rely and surrender everything to God. All my decisions, plans, and thoughts are with Him. He is in control and I am not. But after getting stressed out by certain events in life within the past year, I unknowingly took hold of the steering wheel where the car is my life and let God just sit at the back, not knowing that I am slowly running towards deeper, harder paths.

But God is just. He is just to help me see my faults through the effects of my decision-making and planning. I procrastinated in writing my policy paper, which was one of the requirements in the program; I was overconfident in the qualifying exam that I didn’t review that much, which led me to getting an unpleasing, but passing, score; I didn’t rehearse well with my song choice, which led me to forget some of the lyrics during the actual performance, and I was anxious and miserable throughout. I badly wanted to get accepted that I realized how miserable I was with all the things that I was doing. Poor decisions caused me to be anxious and overthink.

God is also compassionate. Because I saw as to how messy my life was without His guidance, I saw how wretched my heart was. I asked God that if I would prioritize other things over Him, then may He not let me get into the program. Lo and behold, I was rejected. It was the happiest thing that I experienced. Yes, the happiest. Why, you may ask? It’s because I didn’t want to go on with this marvelous program alone. I know that the phrase: “I will get things right with God, if chosen” will not be the ultimate answer to continue on with my quality time with Jesus. I genuinely praise God for letting me fail because this wouldn’t have been a testimony as to how God helped me succeed but it would’ve been a testimony as to how I only needed to believe in myself and not rely on anyone else to get what I wanted. This was not what I had wanted at all. What I had wanted was to please God through the program. My initial goal ever since I learned of this program was for God to use me in sharing His Word to people who I may meet, if chosen.

'When Will You Learn To Surrender' Note

I found this little piece of gem while cleaning a portion of my room. Who knew that this little note would help me remember God’s mercy and love in my life? © Jedd Francis De Luna

 

I found Proverbs 23:36 a year and a half ago when I was facing a dilemma in major life decisions. God revealed to me what I needed to do through that verse and he is slowly letting me understand how vile my heart was, how lost I was, and what it truly meant to surrender everything to Him.

I can honestly say that I am still quite unstable with my walk with God. I have been idle and dry in my bible reading and daily devotions, but through different people (e.g. my small group, my ministry), I am learning to see how wonderful it is to get to know and experience God every single day. I have also been teaching myself to slowly pause and stop posting unnecessary stuff (e.g. opinions on current Philippine political issues, ridiculing those in power for their political decisions, and the like) on social media to decrease the negativity that I may or may not have been bringing through opinions and posts.

Indeed, I am a work in progress, as always, but one thing is certain: He is, has always been, and will always be with me throughout the journey. May I learn the art of total surrender and may He fully take over the driver’s seat of my life.

Please continue to pray for spiritual revival and strength as I continue to lean on Jesus!

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TRUST GOD, FOR HE IS IN CONTROL

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This August is going to be my second to the last semester in my University. Months before, I was praying for God to give me a reasonable schedule, if not a great nor a good one. In Elevate U-Belt, our church’s youth ministry located in the University Belt of Manila, I serve at ‘Selah’ (our music ministry), and now, I just started serving at ‘Safelight’ (our photo ministry); it also happens every Friday evening. I said to God that if I won’t be able to serve in Elevate U-Belt (if ever I have class during that time), may he lead me to serving in other Elevate branches, like Elevate Commonwealth, or Elevate SNL (short for ‘Saturday Night Live;’ for college students and it is located in the main church) to name a few. I also meet with my small group every Saturday evening at the main church so if ever that I would be called by God to serve there, transportation would not really be much of a problem. Then just a few hours ago, at around 8pm, a block mate of mine posted an update: our schedule had been released already. Excitedly, I gazed upon the picture and I made a table as to what my schedule looks like: 4THYR1STSEM-SCHED (My Thesis Writing class is from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, in case you might not understand why it’s like that.) The next thing I knew, the smile on my face was gone. It did not resemble a frown, but a look of disbelief and confusion. I did not know what to do, neither to say. Coincidentally, my schedule blocked all the time slots wherein I can attend Elevate: Whether it may be in Vito Cruz, Pedro Gil, Katipunan, Commonwealth, High, or SNL (I took consideration of my time to go there from the University). Thank God that I can attend Elevate U-Belt, but I can no longer serve at Selah due to my schedule. I can’t rehearse on Thursday nights, neither can I do sound check since Elevate U-Belt starts at 6pm; I might also be late in covering the event if I serve in Safelight. And I have a 6-9pm class on Saturday, the same time that I can meet my small group and my discipler (small group leader). Also, I won’t be able to commit in serving for the youth choir during Sunday worship at the main church since my Saturday is booked from 9am to 9pm. I felt like my happiness was ripped out of my body. I felt uneasy and I felt so disturbed. I was staring at my schedule for a long, long time. Then anxiety was starting to eat me. I cried out to God and asked Him the reason why He allowed to block almost every Elevate accessible to me. I asked Him to change my schedule so that I can comfortably serve in my ministries and be able to attend small group meetings. My mind was really getting out of hand and I, on the other hand, I am “brisk walking” around my room thinking about all these things – and it’s all just because of my schedule. As I calmed myself down, I prayed to God solemnly. As I slowly ask Him once more why He allowed my schedule to turn out like this, I felt someone asking me, “Who is it that you serve, your friends? Your family? Or are you serving Me?” There, my jaw dropped. God was letting me see that even though my goals in ministry is to serve Him, He wants me to focus solely on Him. He didn’t want me to focus on ministry, on my small group, but He wants me to be firm in my relationship with Him. I have been inside my comfort zone for a long time that I don’t allow change to happen because I think that it’s scary and I might feel as if I’m all alone, but the truth is, I’m really not. God is telling us that He will never leave us and that He will always be by our side. (Hebrews 13:5b) I decided that whether He wants me to serve in Elevate U-Belt or not, then His will be done. The good news is that my 6-9pm class on Internship should already be done (meaning I have no more class) since I am currently doing my practicum. This means that I can meet my small group every Saturday night after escaping the “Manila to San Juan to Ortigas fiasco” of a traffic from Recto. Even though right now, I do not know what God has in store for me, neither do I know the ultimate reason why He allowed me to have this very annoying schedule, I will trust and obey Him. I can still serve Him in many ways beyond ministries and beyond the church. I pray that He will change my heart and help me become better, that I may live like Christ. God is in control The storm may be very powerful, but I will be still for I know that You, my Lord, are with me. All my fear will be removed for You are bigger than my problems.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6 (NIV)