When Will You Learn To Surrender?

Standard

“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 23:26 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!

Advertisements

Jeremiah 29:11: A contextual analysis

Standard

 

jer2911-squarejdl15

It says in Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version), “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is my life verse. My second, actually, after 1 Timothy 4:12, which tackles the youth battling out low expectations from adults and taking the step up to responsibility and challenges. But what is Jeremiah 29:11, the second most used life verse1, really all about?

Jeremiah 29:11 as my life verse

Before we dive into the specifics and technicalities, let me share to you why this verse became close to my heart: you see, there came a time in my life where I learned to doubt God. And these doubts turned to despair, and eventually despair turned into disbelief. I was questioning God and His existence. I had lost hope because of challenges and events that have been occurring in my life in and out of college. But through a simple scroll down Facebook, I saw this bible verse shared by an old high school classmate. That really didn’t hit me in the guts until I started thinking about it more and more. I was in the state of going to agnosticism. I felt abandoned and alone, going into that short state of depression despite continuously smiling and trying to make people laugh (to prove to myself that I don’t deserve to feel melancholy for the rest of my life. But this verse helped me to hang on and to continue to hope; to never fret or overthink about the future – my future – that I can never predict. And up to this write-up, this is still my life verse.

Jeremiah 29:11 in context

Now, what does this verse really mean? Well, the book of Jeremiah, based on my understanding is that Jeremiah had predicted the “Fall of Jerusalem” because of the havoc and chaos that the people have been doing. They have submitted themselves to evil and have forgotten all about God. So what does that have to do with 29:11? Well, let’s go a chapter back. In Jeremiah 28 comes Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet…or so we thought. He was boldly proclaiming that God was going to free Israel from Babylon in two years (Jeremiah 28:11), but God revealed to Jeremiah that it was a big fat lie. So what happened to Hananiah? Seven months had passed and he died (Jeremiah 28:17). Bummer.

 

So what now? Well, in Jeremiah 29:5-7, God instructed people to build houses, settle down, marry and have sons and daughters and increase in number and He also said to obey the authority of Babylon, which during that time was being ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar II, who was also considered as a brutal, powerful, and ambitious king. But Nebuchadnezzar also served as “God’s instrument of judgment on Judah or its idolatry, unfaithfulness, and disobedience (Jeremiah 25:9)”2. You could possibly think that this couldn’t get any worse, but if you look at Jeremiah 29:10, God is telling them that their people would be able to go back home after seven decades. This means that the current generation of that time won’t make it back home alive, or there’s that super small chance of getting back alive, but you’re now as fragile as a wine glass.

So wait, how does that make any of us feel better? Well, God was basically saying to trust Him. He knows the situation sucks right now but He has our best interest in mind, and that’s what the next verse is talking about: Jeremiah 29:11. God used that verse to let them understand that all hope is not lost. According to Mary DeMuth3, she said that we must “remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely. And when we learn perseverance, we find surprising joy” meaning that the hope that God is talking about here is that in “the midst of your suffering, cling to Jeremiah 29:11, but cling to it for the right reason: not in the false hope that God will take away your suffering, but in the true, gospel confidence that he will give you hope in the midst of it.4

Final words

Throughout the trials and tribulations of life, we must always remember that God is always with us, whether we experience delights or trials. The trials and tribulations that He let us face are not to let us suffer but for us to realize how we have been astray and how we’re getting lost. God wants us to realize the importance of His “rules” in preventing anarchic events in our personal lives. Accepting Christ does not mean that we get to live a pleasant sin-free, worry-free life. The Christian life is not difficult, it is indeed humanly impossible. But what changes? Our response, our character, and our heart. We become warriors and soldiers, tougher and stronger than ever. But God is with us throughout and God won’t let us go astray. Why? It’s all because of His love for us. And to experience God’s unconditional love is one of the most amazing experiences, for me. So, let’s continue to hope and to hang on. God isn’t finished with us just yet.

 


Author’s Note: This was actually our assignment for our small group and I wanted you guys to understand my insights from my research and opinion. Hope you like it!

SOURCES:

1http://www.coylindsey.com/2013/03/20/whats-the-meaning-of-your-life-verse-jeremiah-2911/

2https://www.gotquestions.org/Nebuchadnezzar.html

3http://www.marydemuth.com/jeremiah-29-11/

4http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/stop-taking-jeremiah-29-11-out-of-context.html