For a moment, let’s set aside submission in marriage. Think of submission in terms of submitting your plans to a decision-maker.
As a writer, when I submit my work to an editor, I willingly give up the right to decide. Maybe my work will be published. Maybe it won’t. But chances are, if one editor says no, I’ll send my work to another one. Maybe the first editor was distracted or didn’t take much time on it. Maybe they just published something similar.
But then, what if the 10th editor says no? And then the 11th? Dr. Seuss’s first book got rejected 27 times. And because we are resolved, confident, tenacious Americans, we love the fact that he kept submitting.
But do we love the idea of continuing to submit to God? Because really, submitting to God is kind of the same. We bring our ideas and plans and hopes and dreads to Him, and we say, “You get to decide God. You know what I’d like, but You get to choose.” And sometimes God does ‘publish’ my ideas. He pours out His acceptance and favor on my plans and efforts.
But what about when God says no? There aren’t 27 other Gods. Only one God. Now, I can ask again and again–which God actually encourages. (Read here.) But the idea behind ‘submit’ doesn’t allow me to hate on God. If I seethe or sulk or say, “Fine, then. I’ll find a way to do it without Your help,” That’s not really submitting, right?
When God puts a giant brick wall in my path, He’s redirecting me, not rejecting me. He wants me to move in a different direction. Not with dragging-my-feet dreariness. Instead, God loves it when I’m like a child on a scavenger hunt–with my eyes sparkling, wondering what He’s hidden around the next bend. And even when I can’t help but be disappointed and sad, He loves it when my faith in Him buoys me and gives me hope. He loves it when I say, “I submit. You get to decide.”
Submission in marriage is really hard for a lot of women because their husbands have repeatedly hurt, betrayed, and disappointed them. You can see why a wife might not want to make herself vulnerable and submit her next great idea to a husband who is likely to mock, belittle, or smack her in the face.
But God is not like that husband. He is good and only good. If I could see what God sees–if I had His depth of perception and 30,000 foot view in all direction of the timeline–I would agree with Him about what is good, and what isn’t. I’d understand the purpose of the brick wall, which obstructs my viewpoint. I’d look to Him, and ask Him which direction my toes should be pointing next.
Now, I’m not selling some idea that God always leads us to bigger and better and more. (Name one person in the Bible who had that experience!) God often says no. His people often experience disappointment and loss and pain. But faith leads them to trust Him anyway.
Are you facing a brick wall today? Maybe you’ve learned that your child has a rare auto-immune disease, or you were outbid on the house of your dreams. Maybe your husband has crumpled your hopes for your marriage, or the infertility doctor delivered more bad news. Perhaps HR let you know that the position went to another candidate, or your church has decided to close its doors.
So, what will you do next? You could rent a bulldozer and angrily plow through that brick wall. You could sit down in front of that wall and quit. Or you could submit to God. Continue to give Him all your best ideas, your inspiration, and dreams. Tell Him all the great things you’d like to do to lift His name high. And then let Him decide.
God is the great Editor. And my life is just one of millions of plot lines He’s twisting together to create a story more rich and fulfilling and good than anything I would ever come up with for myself. I wouldn’t want to miss it!
So yes, I submit.
Love this Shannon. It’s Beautiful Surrender & a timely reminder to me that a brick wall doesn’t always mean no, it can mean not right now, or not this way. And when we are troubled. Instead of asking God “why or why not?” We can instead ask WHAT? “what do you want me to learn from this God” “what role do you want me to play in this struggle?” This simple task removes my mind from defense mode and “what is being done to me” and instead puts it on “what can i do? How can I help Love your writings Shannon!
I love what YOU wrote, too, Sarah! Especially:
Instead of “why?” ask “what?” That’s beautiful faith, right there.