Trusting Jesus With What We Hold Dear
Join the Set Apart Team as we reminisce on moments of past surrender and clearly see the significance of how yielding to Jesus not only directs our immediate steps, but gives us bright hope for the future as He continues to faithfully unfold every detail of our lives.
Surrendering the Familiar
By Mandy Saeler
The packing of boxes had finally come to an end. Exhausted, in every facet of the word, I climbed up into the moving truck and braced myself for the rainy, two-day trek across seven states. The short amount of daylight in early December meant that most of the trip took place in the dark hours, sitting starkly upright in the tight cab of a Penske truck that reverberated the road noise at a mind-numbing volume.
Despite the road’s deep shade of grey and the complete lack of coffee pitstops for road-weary travelers across the Midwest, there was expectation brewing in my heart for all that lay ahead. And yet, there was also no denying that the grey skies reflected my emotions as I left behind special relationships and a place that I loved. It was bittersweetness defined.
Making this cross-country move was a pivotal surrender in response to God’s leading. I had taken a season to prayerfully seek God on this matter, which gently revealed that He’d long been preparing my heart and guiding me in this direction. After living in Colorado for nearly a decade, which equated to my entire independent adult life, I was returning to a familiar place … with much unfamiliar territory. I was a newcomer in my own hometown.
My yes to God led me to release what was comfortable and familiar. And through the life transition it brought about, I was freshly reminded that surrender isn’t a “one and done” act. Like a corkscrew that must be braced, pressed, and driven deeper and deeper — so surrender is in our spiritual lives.
More than four years have passed and that yes to God has continued to drive the “corkscrew” of surrender deeper. I’ve often retraced His leading as a means of reassurance when I’ve felt especially challenged as a result of that yes. And I’ve discovered when I trace the path of surrender back far enough, it leads to the moment of soul surrender 16 years ago when I gave up my life in a glorious exchange for His. At that point, my life was no longer about me … it was about following Him. My seven-state-shift was simply a yes to God — the next right thing in following His lead. And there have been many yes-to-God and no-to-myself moments since then.
Surrender begets surrender.
The bottom line is that physical location, the familiarity of surroundings, and the comforts in life are small things in comparison to the comfort and consolation of walking in new life with Jesus. The significance of our surrender is found in Jesus — gaining more of Him. Come what may, He is our best yes — every time.
What a hopeful truth we lay hold of when we observe God’s pattern in Scripture and find that we can rest assuredly in the One who is worthy of our surrender. Whether in our circumstances or in our lives as a whole, He never leads us into the death of surrender without a plan for a glorious resurrection, in His time and way.
Surrendering the Shape of Family
by Heather Cofer
I’ll never forget that call from the doctor several months shy of my first anniversary and receiving news that meant I might not be able to bear children. Becoming a mom had been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, particularly having a baby of my own. So when the doctor called with my diagnosis, it felt like my world was shattering. I walked around in a nightmarish daze for weeks, trying to process the reality that I might never conceive children of my own.
Lying awake so many nights, tears streaming, heart crying out to God, I would say things like, “Lord, I said no to a lot of other pursuits because I believed that becoming a wife and mom were good things and that this was what You were calling me to do. How can this longing of being a biological mom possibly be taken away from me?”
As I wrestled in the depths of my soul, the Lord gently revealed to me the iron-fisted grip I had on bearing children of my own. He opened my eyes to see there was nothing I had done or could ever do to deserve children. He showed me that I was pursuing children as my highest prize rather than Him.
After a summer of weeping, praying, and processing, the Lord brought me to a place of being able to lay the desire for children at His feet. Although the longing remained, there was such peace in knowing that God could see the beginning from the end. He knew what was best for my life.
Imagine my shock when — just a few weeks later — I saw two pink lines on a pregnancy test! God, in His love and mercy, had chosen to grant us a child. But first, He allowed me to walk through the painful, but necessary, process of surrender to His perfect will. I was able to receive this gift with humble gratitude rather than proud entitlement.
I will always remember that summer as a crossroads: Did I truly believe that Christ was my greatest reward? Was I willing to trust Him with the story of my life, no matter what He allowed me to walk through?
That was ten years ago now, and I can say with wholehearted confidence that He is faithful and can be trusted with everything we surrender into His hands.
Surrendering Your life-long dreams
by Jasmin Howell
Much of my teen and young adult years were spent dreaming about how to become a singer in the Christian music industry. I had big plans to be signed by a label, put out albums, and tour North America singing my heart out. In my early twenties this Canadian girl had the opportunity to move to Nashville, write with professional songwriters, perform for executives at well-known labels, and, finally, truly pursue my dream in the flesh.
Joining two sisters from Canada, I became one-third of a fledgling music group trying to make our mark in a city that was overflowing with people trying to make their mark. We lived together in the attic of a small house and spent our days writing songs, doing vocal training, dreaming together, and exploring the city. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.
As an early riser, I had a lot of free time in that season to be alone with my thoughts. I spent nearly every morning sitting at the kitchen table with a candle lit and my Bible and journal open. In that season of pouring everything I had into pursuing a music career, I’m so glad I took the time to be with the Lord every day and let Him pour His truth into me.
As the days in Nashville passed, I spent my mornings asking the Lord for His wisdom and leading. My heart was drawn more and more to Him, and my eyes were opened to aspects of the music industry that did not please Him — and actually made me really uncomfortable. While our plans in Nashville were moving forward in some ways, God was changing my heart right there in the middle of “Music City.” In the center of my own pursuits, He wooed my heart and allowed me to see how I had pursued my dreams over seeking His ways. He showed me that I had wanted fame and recognition more than I’d wanted His will. So I surrendered and freshly dedicated my life to Him.
Shortly after, our plans in Nashville were cut short. I grieved deeply. Oh, how the tears flowed! But as I came to the end of a lifelong dream and we returned home, I also heard the whispered reassurance from the Lord that He had something better. And He really did. It wasn’t long after that I began dating the man who is now my husband.
Surrender for me was not easy. I was certain that the fulfillment of my dreams would bring me joy. The process of surrender in my life was more like God lovingly prying my fingers from something I was grasping with all my might. But what great love He demonstrated in pursuing me and giving me more joy in following Him than I could have ever imagined!
Surrendering Your WEDDING PLANS
by Sarah Mockler
Being a bride — it’s every little girl’s dream when playing dress-up. From the time I was young, I anticipated the day I would get married, so when it came time to dust off my sweetly preserved ideals that included bridal party colors and dress designs — I found myself with no lack of inspiration.
What I did lack … was time. As the Lord wrote my love story and moved me into a beautiful season of engagement, I found myself with six short-and-sweet weeks from start to finish to gather the details and make plans in time for the big day.
In an age where six months is considered a “short” engagement, I found myself on the threshold of surrendering what I had long-envisioned my wedding day would include — the natural involvement of family close at hand, a New England setting, warm weather, and every detail lovingly in place.
The date was set for February 19th, and it was one that had been seriously considered and prayed over by my fiancé and me. After all, a February wedding was just around the corner! But the more we prayed about it, the more evident His will became.
Our decision was not rash, but rather a thoughtful look into the heart of God and a step of obedience as we began to seal our invitations. Because He had directed us to this date, we had full confidence that whatever we lacked, God would supply — whether that was time, creativity, helping hands, favorable weather, and, of course, … finding the perfect dress.
As my girlish dreams were met with reality and God’s provision, I began to see my wedding take beautiful shape under His loving orchestration rather than my selfish coordination. As I surrendered the details into His loving hands, He gave me the desires of His heart for my wedding day … and it was better than I could have planned on my own.
In the end, all the details I cared about were beautifully present. The chapel was draped in white, aglow with candlelight, and adorned with touches of antique brick and ample greenery. My dress was everything I desired my gown to be thanks to the help of a dear sister-in-love who transformed a dress I purchased off the rack in one day of dress shopping. The cake was a masterpiece of Italian cream studded with fresh figs and blackberries that was lovingly baked by a friend from out of state — after we called every local bakery and were told that what I wanted was impossible … or impossibly expensive. And while I never officially had flower girls, the passel of girls fluttering by my side throughout the day in rapturous delight still makes my heart smile.
The Lord knows what you treasure, beloved one. The deepest desires and the most intricate of details are not lost to the One who knit you together and made your heart beat the way it does. As we entrust our choicest dreams to Him, we can be sure that He will make everything beautiful … in His time and in His way.
Surrendering Those WE LOVE
by Annie Wesche
Instead of the miraculous healing we were fervently praying for, my mum’s brain tumor was undeniably growing. I could see the debilitating impact intensifying in her body, but I resisted any thought that God might be choosing not to heal her. I pushed away my fears. I quickly shut down any thought of no longer sharing life with her, not having her to turn to for womanly advice and wisdom, not having her there on my wedding day, or watching her delight in grandchildren to come. I was resistant to the thought of anything other than God’s healing and for us to have many more years together with the beautiful mother-daughter relationship we treasured.
But it was no longer something I could resist or ignore. Physically, my dear mum was losing the battle with cancer, and quickly.
I stole away to a solitary place and there poured out my agony before the Lord. I wept and pleaded before Him. After some time, as my tears slowed and my soul quieted, I turned the eyes of my heart upward. I gazed upon the Lord, remembering that my God is good, loving, faithful, true, trustworthy, purposeful, and wise. And I pondered afresh that both my mum and I did not belong to ourselves, but were His. Our lives had been surrendered to our Savior and Lord, and the longing of both our hearts was to treasure Him above all else.
In His merciful and enabling grace, I opened my hands and surrendered my dear mum’s life fully to Him. I surrendered the significant life-moments we may not have together — marriage, babies, and celebrations. I surrendered my fear of what the earthly loss would feel like or require of me in the days, months, and years that would follow as our family grieved her absence. And I surrendered my will — truly and sincerely — desiring His will which also meant, His glory, His purpose, and His plans for our family.
“Lord, whatever comes next, I trust You.” I whispered. “I give You my beautiful, beloved mum.”
A holy, supernatural calm fell upon my heart the very moment I spoke the words. He flooded me with peace, quieted me in His love, held me in hope, and strengthened my courage.
And what did come next, in the very moments that followed, was our preparation for hospice and for Mum to behold Jesus face to face.
My surrender was an act of obedience to the One who had asked for it and was unquestioningly worthy of it. But I also saw His astonishingly beautiful love, not only for my mum, but for me also in my grief. He tenderly took me by the hand, in the midst of such deep pain, and led me to a moment of surrender, laying all of my fears and tears at His feet, knowing it would be the very preparation my soul needed to follow Him into what came next.
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