Learning Submission By Giving Up Control
That can be an ugly word. It has unpleasant history and ugly connotations. It is a word I have wrestled with too many times. To submit means to “accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person.”
All I read is “to be controlled.” It was pretty obvious that my problems with submission actually stem from a control problem. I like being in control. It feels safe and comfortable. So what causes this problem?
I have always been an independent person. I think self-sufficiency is vital for thriving in any area. Somewhere over the last twenty-four years of my life, I discovered that you can’t always rely on other people. This is where all my logic became faulty. I decided that I knew best and that I could only depend on myself. I left God out of the equation.
"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." -James 4:7
It’s easy as a millennial to cringe at the idea of letting someone or something else make decisions for me. It seems irresponsible or even lazy to be submissive. But Scripture is filled with the idea of submission. We are told dozens of times to submit to God, to earthly authority, to our husbands, and to other people. The Bible is clear that this isn’t optional.
God opened my eyes recently to one simple fact: if He truly is Lord of my life, then I am called to serve Him before I serve myself.
Submission isn’t supposed to be painful. It’s simply awareness that I don’t have all the answers, and that the Lord’s plans are better than mine (Isaiah 55:8), however detailed and well thought out they may be. Having a submissive nature means that I am being obedient to who God has called me to be and do.
So how does a “type-A”, list making, coffee-drinking, independent, driven go-getter release all that control into the hands of a Father who doesn’t always give us a heads-up about His big plans? The answer is simple, but not easy.
In the book of John, Christ addresses His disciples before His crucifixion about the Holy Spirit.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” -John 16:13-14
In order to be submissive, our hearts have to be in tune with the Holy Spirit through a daily emptying of self in order for a filling of Christ’s character to occur. It's an act of humility. When we are aligned with the plans the Lord has for us, we readily yield to His authority and direction. Relinquishing whatever imaginary control we think we have over our own lives allows God, through the Spirit, to take us through and to places we never could get to on our own. It’s the Spirit’s job; He is designed to let us know what to do.
Submission is about trust and intimacy. If you don’t trust someone fully, you’re not likely to bend your will to theirs. In order to trust someone, you have to know their heart and intentions. You have to know they have your best interest in mind. To be submissive requires just enough vulnerability to be uncomfortable, but in submissiveness to our Father we are always protected by His hands.
The Lord's heart is that we fully know His plans for our lives.
Do you intimately know the Lord’s heart? Over the last several months, I’ve discovered that my lack of submission was truly a lack of knowledge of how deep and personal the Father loves me. He has the best plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and wants to help steer me towards them.
[pullquote width="300" float="right"]Submission isn’t about being a doormat, but about being a peacemaker.[/pullquote]
Submission has been a wake-up call for me to get to know the Lord better, instead of telling Him how much better my plans are for myself. It’s forced me to be patient and joyful in the waiting, knowing that my destiny can’t be rushed. I’ve also learned to enjoy the process as much as the result.
It’s not about how quickly I can get from one place to the other, but about the relationships and experiences I have along the way.
Submitting first to our ultimate Authority makes it easier to submit to all other authority, even those we don’t agree with. Because as you learn to submit to God, it also becomes easier to submit to others - your friends, family, and someday, your husband.
Submission isn’t about being a doormat, but about being a peacemaker. My favorite definition of submission is “to stop trying to fight or resist something; to agree to do or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing.”
So, give up the fight! Even our best plans aren’t always the best for us. I am not perfect in this area, but the time I spend with the Lord has allowed my heart to soften to things not going my way. It’s easier to see the bigger picture.
The control freak in me is learning to loosen my grip and trust in the One who loves me fully. Looking back, it’s evident that God knows what He’s doing in my life, and He will not fail me.