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Recently I came across a Martial Arts competition broadcast. My thoughts quickly returned to college when I took a beginning Judo class and later tried Taekwondo, which by the way was really fun, but also revealed my less than stellar abilities. I hadn't watched this sport for many years, but I was drawn into the strength, ability and agility of each participant as they tried to out maneuver each other; grunting, panting, twisting and heaving toward the victorious moment when their opponent would give up, slap the mat and yell Matte,' meaning peace or I give up.

As the young man beat the mat, I immediately envisioned the times I have wrestled or fought with God unwisely thinking I could win, believing I knew what was best for my life. There were moments of crying out, whining, pouting, anger, deferring, ignoring, or simply resisting as I determined to make my own way and forge my own path. Of course, I was no match for God's desires as I opposed Him and struggled at my own expense. Years earlier I had given my life to Him, but it was actually conditional surrender. I chose to serve Him when I liked the assignment, but I would become passive and distant if it did not seem to benefit me. It only took one good wilderness to awaken me to His power and the revelation that He was actually in control and my insufficient attempts at life were simply an illusion of my own inability to succeed without Him. As I gave my heart to Him I asked to know and understand His ways, but my surrender to His training was purely subject to my approval.

As a little child and romantic, I loved the story of Mary as the angel came to tell her that she would divinely carry the Christ child, and I was awed at her intentional and unconditional surrender to God as she spoke in Luke 1:38: "Behold the bondslave of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word." How many times did I try to rightly position myself to surrender to His will like Mary and yet failed. I wanted to "slap the mat" and yield to Him and yet my actions revealed my determination to keep fighting. Sometimes it was fear, pride, unfulfilled personal dreams, and sometimes it was simply rebellion wanting to serve Him my own way. I wanted to give up but I simply didn't know how. A part of me wanted to "go where He leads me," and yet I remained fearful, angry and full of my own desires, lacking maturity and intimacy to trust Him with my future. Some call this double mindedness. However you label it, indecision and self interest can cause one to become stagnate and unable to prosper or move forward in life 

Many people still have points of enmity or frustration with God. They may be angry, feeling He did not meet their needs or fulfill His promises as they imagined. And unfortunately in this fallen world, bad things do happen to very precious people and the end result can lead one to feel betrayed or rejected by God. If we are not vigilant we can give way to the lies of darkness believing God is not with us nor does He care. Each person is faced with the choice to either turn their back to Him or surrender as He begins the divine work of covenant exchange. Understanding His process of changing us into more of His image often erases fear as we begin to intimately cooperate with Him and allow the deep work of change within. God's covenant exchange is a divine work of Holy Spirit, as He takes all that we are in exchange for all that He is. God patiently removes all the worldly thoughts, belief structures and actions in our life and He then pours more of Himself into us. He is actually changing our character and nature to become more like Him. Even in our maturity, there are still moments in our relationship where we must choose to bow low, slap the mat and say, "Peace, I give," surrendering to His desires above our own. Trust is built over time not always understanding His reasons, but we learn to serve without disputing or resisting, knowing He love us, is faithful and has our best interest in His heart. God always has a much bigger plan than what we are able to "see" or comprehend.

As you mature you will begin to trust Him more. He shows you that your circumstances or conditions do not determine His love for you, and even in the midst of tragedy or loss, He is with you. Every challenge that confronts you gives Him a chance to reveal more of Himself and His name. He is Understanding and Knowledge. He is Majestic and Glorious. He is Revelation, Comfort and Wonder. He is the King of Glory, the Spirit of Truth and the Prince of Peace; Wonderful Counselor, Creator, Salvation, Health, Safety and Increase. He is Salvation and the God of the spotted and speckled and so much more. He educates you regarding His kingdom and teaches you to co-labor with Him. Through dreams and visions He comes to you and instructs you in the way you should walk. We learn His ways are not our ways and in our weakness we experience His sovereignty and strength. He gives understanding that we are not called to a life of idleness, but are asked to actively serve at His direction and requests, willfully surrendering to His work and desires. 

God has a way of wrestling us down on the mat, pinning us in situations, until we finally give up. Sometimes He leads by gentle means and sometimes He must deal with His children by firmer or more forceful means. Arthur Burt once wrote in his book "Surrender, Your Key to Spiritual Success" the following: "God endeavors to bring us to the point of surrender. We have been subject to heavenly raids: God has been dropping bombs on the fortifications of the empire of our flesh life. Blockbusters with unerring precision have devastated our communication lines, and many of us have been made aware that we are in a preparatory 'softening up' process."

Each day we awaken to new mercies and possibilities; new opportunities to yield to His agenda. He comes and offers all that He is - the fullness of God - to all who surrender to Him. We are then provoked to respond to His eternal question: How much of you will you surrender to Me? Maybe you feel pressure, resistance, fear, disappointment, irritation, anger, frustration or pain? Is life less than what you hoped for? Is it possible you may be resisting the very One who has a better way to do life? Is it possible He may want to speak to you and share what He holds in your future? Would you consider the possibility He may be persuading you to "slap the mat?" Our cry will no longer ring of our own ideas, plans, pain, wounds or personal desires; but we will choose to kneel, yielded to God in peaceful acceptance of HIs will and way, releasing from our heart and soul to Him the words Jesus spoke in the Garden: "Not my will but Yours be done"(Matt. 26:39).

"Thank you Father for Your mercy and grace. Help me to trust and surrender to You and Your desire for my life. Please help me to understand Your ways as I learn to acknowledge and receive Your love, knowing You deeply care and have a plan for me. Thank You for patiently working in my life, helping me to release my worldly nature and character to receive more of You."

In HIs love,

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