Out of the Pit

I sat up quickly in fear. My daughter was yelling in her room. I listened closely in a half fog trying to figure out what was wrong, when I finally realized exactly what she was yelling about. “Mean mommy! Mean mommy! And she’s never, ever, ever, ever going to change!”

Needless to say, I’ve had a couple of rough weeks. A thick cloud of discouragement has hung over my head from my daughter’s attitude toward me. On top of that, my regular time to be in the Word and prayer has gotten pushed to the back burner in the midst of sickness and snow days. Sadly though, instead of running to Jesus this week with my insecurity as a parent and fear of failure to love Him well, I ran. I receded. I knew I wasn’t handling it well, but I was feeling stubborn and refused to surrender that feeling to him. (Ironic, considering I just wrote about surrendering my emotions a few weeks ago.)

Maybe you don’t understand exactly how I’m feeling, but I’m guessing a lot of us have experienced some rough days in recent months. Maybe you’re walking a family member through illness, struggling with infertility or anxious about your finances or your future. Whatever it is, Satan likes to use anything he can to keep us from God. Even knowing this, too often I find myself choosing to hold back rather than submit myself to the Lord.

One of the most powerful themes of the whole Bible is that in the midst of overwhelming uncertainty, pain or fear, our God tells us that His love, His grace, His power--everything we have access to in our relationship with Him--can conquer anything in this world if we would only surrender it to Him.

You may recall the story of Jonah. Stubborn and defiant Jonah, knowing full well that God was calling him to go to the city of Nineveh, instead boarded a boat in the opposite direction and ran from God in disobedience. The storms raged on the boat, and while he tried continually to plug his ears, he FINALLY knew that his running was futile. You see, God had allowed this storm in response to his disobedience, and he knew it. So finally, in a somewhat underrated moment of the story, the other men were convinced by Jonah that the only way to stop the storm and spare their lives was to throw him overboard.

Can you imagine? Just sit with that image for a second. Urging a bunch of strangers to throw you into a stormy sea. The water rising. The waves crashing.

The radical part is that while being thrown into this tumultuous sea, Jonah didn’t know whether he would sink or swim. I would actually venture a guess that he thought he would die. He could not have possibly imagined that God in His mercy would soon send a giant fish to rescue him. With that dive overboard, Jonah turned to God and submitted. And with that submission, he laid his future, his desires, his fear, his everything at the feet of a forgiving Father. So when the giant creature came to swallow him, Jonah’s words were meaningfully full of praise. He prayed in Jonah, chapter 3:

“You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.” Jonah 2:3-7

Jonah took stock of his position--his humble state in the belly of the fish and remembered his God. Jonah from inside that fish, proclaimed God’s goodness, His saving hand. Jonah went on to praise God with song, an acknowledgment of all that God had done for him and spared him in spite of his choosing to turn away from God and do the opposite of what had been asked of him.  

So my question for you today is this: What is God asking you to submit and surrender today? Is He placing you in the midst of a storm in order to get your attention and urge you to do the thing He’s asking? Are you willing to embrace the uncertainty and the unknown, even if it's scary or life threatening? Submission and surrender tend to be ugly words in our society--none of us sit well with the idea that we shouldn’t be getting our heart’s desire most of the time. The natural human inclination is to insist on our own way--especially if the other way feels uncomfortable or frightening. But God asks us to submit simply because we often don’t know what’s best for us, and we certainly don’t know better than He does. My friends, we are HIS beloved, and we should act as such. We should not be OK with staying in knee deep comfort. No! We should desire to be women who unabashedly run into the open water of his mercy and let Him do what He wills, because we know no matter how crazy or tumultuous life seems, His will is perfect.

Listen to In Over My Head (Crash Over Me) by Bethel Music.