By: Kathryn Wenth
Surrender. The movie, Last of the Mohicans, has powerful imagery of this word that has stayed with me for years. There is a point where the French army defeats the English army and takes it hostage. The English, after raising the white flag of surrender, have everything taken from them. The French then choose to massacre them. Not only did the English surrender cost them the battle, it cost them everything!
Similarly, when we surrender to the enemy, Satan, he determines to massacre our identity, destiny, and take everything that is ours. In contrast, surrendering to the Army of God requires the same of us in that everything that we are and everything we have belongs to Him, but it is our choice to release and let go. The redemptive factor is that we get everything we need to live life in abundance, to thrive and walk in true freedom in this exchange.
I had a powerful encounter with God’s discipline that stopped me in my tracks. I was visiting a worship/prayer setting and one of the ladies who was there was praying into the mic. She is one that I’ve known and shared the ups and downs of doing life together. Her struggles have been the fruit of loss and disappointment, and she’s had numerous difficult battles to fight. Often times she’s come through the fire with the smell of smoke remaining on her. I found myself, in her moment of prayer leading, judging her mercilessly in my thoughts. These, and a million other thoughts, plagued my mind and heart. “Why can’t she get over it? Doesn’t she realize that she’s living in a place of poverty? She doesn’t need to be leading at all…..”
It was at that moment God flooded my mind and heart, halting my destructive spiral. He said to me, “Surrender to my love….” “Will you surrender your thoughts, opinions, and judgments to Me and choose to love her?” If Jesus had walked into the room and physically arrested me it would have had the same impact on me. He powerfully arrested my mind and heart with these questions and invited me to His throne of grace where I could receive from Him correction and change, a renewal.
Recently, Jesus has had me invite every part of my heart that struggles with judging others and wrestles with personal shortcomings and disappointments, to His banqueting feast. A feast set before me in the presence of even the internal enemies of my heart.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5
As I meditate on Psalm 23, I’m growing in the revelation of the value of choosing to feast over instant gratification. Oftentimes we choose to approach the Lord like a fast food drive thru instead of resting in the feast He has prepared before us. Do you feast in your time of connection to Jesus or do you “fast food” it? There’s a huge difference. One nurtures me, with His intentional preparation engaging my senses and nourishing my body, soul, and spirit, the other, “drive-thru connection”, provides an addictive fix that lessons the pain. There’s no community, interface, or rest in the latter. No place of connection or nutrition. Do you find yourself in a fast food drive thru state in relation to life? Or do you surrender your immediate needs to the love of the Father and receive true provision for your body, soul, and spirit?
I’ve noticed how entitled my believing and actions have become when I read the following verses out of Matthew 22. These verses are addressing the Jews not accepting God’s gift to them, Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but I think it can also be applied to us. We sometimes get trapped in our religion, living by our own government, that chooses according to our own ways rather than being surrendered as true disciples and followers of Jesus.
“Jesus also told them other parables. He said, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!
“So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.
“The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.”
How many times has the kindness of God extended itself to you, giving you the grace to repent and let go of hate, bitterness, and resentment, and receive forgiveness and unfailing love? Of course you’re not guilty of killing the messenger like the guests in Matthew 22. But, how about rejecting the invite? How many times have you chosen to go your own way? The Jews are His chosen and we have been grafted into the family through our relationship to Jesus Christ. We are the guests that are invited… Do you enjoy the feast or continue to scramble for crumbs, living from a place of lack? What are some of the things that He invites you to feed on? Here are a two I’ve sensed strongly in my own life:
1. Truth- “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” Knowing the truth isn’t simply reading His word, it is meditating on it and welcoming Him to search your heart with it. It also means that we need to get really good at hearing the truth from those who are invested in our personal growth. Sometimes this can be painful but necessary for us to grow and move forward in our freedom journey.
2. Community - We’re created to do life together. This includes being transparent, which defeats shame. One of the greatest privileges that I’ve had in community is listening to others stories, pray for others and to have others pray for me. Standing shoulder to shoulder with others that are moving the same way is truly a beautiful thing!
Listen today to His voice. Is He inviting you to come feast in the presence of your enemies so that He can anoint you with oil that your cup would overflow? How different would your life be if you joined Him there regularly and received?
About the author // Kathryn Wenth is an associate pastor at New Life Family Church. Her favorite thing to do is to encourage others in the journey to grow in Jesus’ incomparable, unconditional love!