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Jasper and I are in a constant battle of the wills.

He wants to eat snacks all. day. long.  In season and out of season.

And I, being his wise and concerned mother, know that eating snacks all day long is neither healthy nor beneficial. So, when he cries out for – i.e. demands – crisps (chips), and I say “No” there is an all out battle that ensues. Jasper, hurling his little body on the floor and convulsing in screams and gulps declaring, “I want crisps!!!” And me repeating, “I am happy to give you crisps with your lunch, but it is not lunch time yet,” while simultaneously wrangling him into my arms to place him in his room where he can continue his fit.

We play this game consistently throughout the day. It is exhausting, and honestly, there are times when I just want to drop kick his three-year-old body into another hemisphere. But, I also recognize that it is in the tedious, day-to-day interactions, in the battles and the discipline, that character is being formed in Jasper.

As I was listening to Jasper pound his feet on the floor and gear up for another willful display of emotion, it reminded me of how often I get so frustrated with the “no’s” God gives to me. Perhaps “no” is too harsh a word, but in the immediate, when I want relief, satisfaction, answers, my way right now, but God says, “not yet,” or “this isn’t good for you,” I get so angry. My outbursts, not nearly as colorful as Jasper’s but equal in intensity, may sound a little bit more like, “I don’t want to go through this hard season! I don’t want to do this!”

I don’t think I am alone. While your struggles may differ from mine, our reactions to God’s providence oftentimes look the same. We get worked up and overwhelmed, anxious and defiant for a number of reasons, and we want God to fix it…now. We cry out for an “Amazon Prime God”: Give me what I want in two days or less.

And yet, that may not be the best for us. God sees our lives, our futures, our character with far greater scope and wisdom.

Today, as another epic battle between Jasper and I ensued, there was a moment when I could see that he was physically wearing down, so I picked him up in my arms and pulled him in close to me. As I carried him to the couch to cradle him in my arms, he continued to resist verbally. His body curled more deeply into my embrace, and I knew he was surrendering. Fatigue had taken over. By the shushing of my voice, his eyelids grew heavy and his weight sunk deeply in my arms. Eventually I walked him into his room and laid him on his bed. He resisted, of course; his raspy voice declaring that he was not sleepy, quietly protesting, “No, I don’t want to go do bed,” and then turning over and curling up in a ball. When I tried to leave his room he cried out for me: “Mommy, please don’t go! Stay with me.” I stayed.

As I sat on his bed, watching his chest move up and down slowly, with each tired breadth, I thought how precious this lesson was to me.

The person that told Jasper “no”; the one who insisted, “not yet”; the one who went head-to-head with him this morning, was the very person he wanted close to him- the one who brought him comfort and peace. He battled with me this morning, but still needed to feel my presence as he drifted off to sleep.

As much as I resist God’s “no’s” and “not yet’s”, He continues to be the one I run to for comfort. He is my refuge and my stability. When life doesn’t seem fair, when the pipes in my house burst, when I can’t seem to be able to get a handle on the ants, when it seems there is constant upheaval in the middle of settling into a new life, God’s presence is where I long to be. When I try to battle my way out of it, God says, “No”. And then I fall into his arms, close my eyes (and sometimes continue to say, “But I don’t want to…”), and slowly, as I release my grip on the way I think my life should go, I find myself giving into God’s way, God’s will. Consider Jesus’ example:

“My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?” Matthew 26:39 (MSG)

Jesus was far more acquainted with suffering than I am, or probably will ever be. At the very moment when the entire story of salvation could have taken a completely different path, Jesus surrendered his will to his Father’s.

We don’t have to like the circumstances we are in. We don’t have to try and wear a fake smile or walk around with an inauthentic attitude. Jasper doesn’t need to embrace with a sweet spirit my “No’s” and “Not yets”. But the challenge posed to each of us as we reflect on this defining moment in Jesus’ life is the surrendering of the will to a will far greater, more loving, vastly more sovereign than our own.

My will caters to me.

God’s will caters to His glory.

And God’s will is where I want to remain. His presence is where I long to abide…

…Even when surrender is a struggle.

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One Response to “even when surrender is a struggle”

  1. Judy Hayburn says:

    Beautifully written.

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