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WIMD Pulse - February 2013

The Battle for Control
By Pamela Edwards, MD

I think the Lord brings all believers to a point in their lives where they have to say “uncle!” Some sooner than later, frequently over and over. Submitting to His will and His ways always goes against our flesh, our human nature. Let’s face it. Submission is a bad word in today’s culture. But this battle began way back in the garden, when Adam and Eve resisted the will of a loving Creator and insisted on sharing His throne.

As physicians and as women, some of us wives, we are faced with this dilemma over and over. My will or Thy will? I frequently think that I know best, about many things, whether at work or at home, and my flesh frequently rears its ugly nature as I claim my position and my rights. Many times what it boils down to is, what am I here for? What am I thriving on? My work, my glory? Or the work of the Father? If we truly have received Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will have the desire to please Him, and in doing so, we become more like Him. “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work’” (John 4:34, ESV).

The Lord has been dealing with me on this issue, and He has convicted me that to walk in a manner pleasing to Him, in a way that brings Him glory, I must wave the white flag of surrender. Paul tells us in Romans 12 to offer our bodies as living sacrifices in view of God’s mercy, as this is a reasonable (marginal rendering) act of worship. In light of the incredible mercy of God poured out on us when Christ redeemed us from the slave market of sin through His death on the cross, a full and complete sacrifice of our lives is the only logical response we can make.

So what is God asking me to give up? The more I studied this question during my quiet time, the more I realized that God wants me to live every minute for Him, according to His will and purposes. I am never “off-duty.” But the sacrifices that God asks of us are never pointless—every act of obedience is significant. Realizing that it is all for Him adds a sense of purpose and joy. He knows what is best, and His plans are always better than mine. Besides, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20, NKJV).

Through this study on surrender, the Lord has brought me to the passage in Luke 1:38 where Mary says, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (NKJV). Talk about life-changing surrender! But keep in mind that the angel Gabriel had just assured her that “nothing is impossible with God” (v. 37, NIV 1984), clearly indicating that this would be a work of the Holy Spirit, bringing about the glorious work of the Father.

As I pondered my life, I asked what is the turf in which I am in a battle for control? I learned that I am to give Him all that I have, my rights, my reputation, my desires, my marriage and relationships, my future plans, my time, my emotions, my health and vitality. It all belongs to Him. If that sounds overwhelming, we need to remember that we have “exceedingly great and precious promises” that will counteract our deepest fears about surrender (2 Peter 1:4, NKJV). If we trust His promises, we will be given the courage and strength to make each sacrifice He asks of us. And He sent us the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us and gives us the grace to do the work He sets before us (John 15:26, 2 Corinthians 12:9).

Jesus tells us in Luke 14:33, “So then, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions” (NASB). Whoa! I had to ask myself, am I satisfied with His provisions? Do I have anything that I would not be willing to part with, that is more important to me than Him? Are there “compartments” in my life where I am reserving the right to exercise control, like my free time? Sometimes I think I’m turning “everything” over to Him, including my fears and anxiety about the future, but when a life-threatening health issue comes up with my grandson, do I really trust Him with that?

The hymn written by Frances Havergal in 1874 about “Take My Life” really describes a surrendered life. It has been a great way for me to search out my heart and take inventory.

  • Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise. Do I seek His direction as to how to use my free time? Do I readily respond to opportunities to serve others even if it requires sacrificing “my time?”
  • Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee. Before I speak, do I ask the Lord what He wants me to say? Do I use my tongue to intentionally edify and encourage others, bringing healing?
  • Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose. Am I wasting my mind on worldly pursuits that have no eternal value? Or do I devote my mental capacity to serving Christ and furthering His kingdom?
  • Take my will and make it Thine. Am I stubborn, demanding or controlling? Is there anything God has shown me to be His will that I have been neglecting or refusing to obey?

As a physician, a woman and a Christian committed to serving Christ, I have to ask myself these questions:

  • Am I depending on my own strength and knowledge as I go about my practice every day? (“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” [Proverbs 3:5, NIV 1984].)
  • Do I get impatient or angry at interruptions? (a prideful heart)
  • Do I criticize my colleagues, in front of staff or in my heart? (more pride)
  • Do I forget whose I am when the day gets stressful and hectic?
  • What have I NOT surrendered to God?

I am praying that this exercise has plowed up the soil in your heart as much as it has in mine, and that the Lord uses this to draw you closer to Himself. Your obedience to Him will bring Him glory and you many rich blessings. Really, in giving some things up, we have everything to gain. As Paul said in Philippians 3:8, “…I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (ESV). What a thrill!