Seeing that I had forgotten my choir music at rehearsal one evening, my friend held her music between us so I could look on with her. I was puzzled by a note she had written in the margins of her sheet music: “Listen to Sheri.” I asked her what it meant, and she explained that at a previous rehearsal she had struggled to find a note in a particularly challenging chord. Hearing that I had it, she wrote that message to herself as a reminder to listen to me. I chuckled at her answer, saying, “Listen to Sheri…that’s pretty good advice for all things in life, isn’t it?”
As we turn our focus this month towards the theme of LISTENING…we begin with an act of surrender.
So often the voice that guides us in our lives is our own. The inner voice that dictates our plans and goals. That maps out our path to success or victory. Putting it simply…most of the time we think we know best. Like the former President who once said, “I am the decider!”—we’re convinced that our way is the best way. We even become frustrated when those in our lives (hint, hint…our children!) don’t listen to us. Controlling everything around us becomes a defense. Our control is the only thing we feel is keeping us together…when perhaps it’s the very thing holding us back from truly growing in our faith.
If we are committed to listening to God’s call in our lives, we need to surrender. To give up our need to control, to manage, to decide, to be in charge.
Thy will be done.
When Jesus approached Simon and Andrew, casting their nets on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he offered them an invitation. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19). The two brothers immediately dropped their nets and followed him…and their lives were changed forever.
It takes practice—listening to God. Letting God lead us and guide us might not come naturally at first. But we must remember that God has chosen us and comes to us with an invitation. How will we respond? Are we open to the mystery of God’s plans for our lives? Complete surrender is not an easy thing. In battle, surrender signals defeat. It implies a loss of control and a giving up or giving in. To surrender to an enemy is a failing act of last resort.
But to surrender to God’s loving plans is something else altogether. Our ego-driven belief that we know best falls away as we begin to trust God. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
To surrender to God means…
- to love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul,
- to trust that God is working in your life, and
- to believe that God will meet all of your needs.
This LOVING and TRUSTING and BELIEVING can be done through prayer and examination. Ask God what it is in your life that is most in need of your surrender. To what are you gripping too tightly? What nets do you need to let go of so you can follow Jesus?
Thy kingdom come; thy will be done.
It’s during these moments of surrender that the deepest listening takes place. If we open ourselves to the invitation with unclenched fists and open hearts, we will be ready to discover God’s plans for us.
And ready to follow wherever God may lead.