“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? “Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? “It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:26-35 [NASB]
One morning the week before Sarah left, I vividly remember sitting on the porch having my quiet time and being prompted to turn my palms up to the Lord as I prayed a familiar prayer, “all that I am and all that I have, my life and my family, I surrender to You, use it all for Your glory.” I had a slight sense of foreboding prior to praying, which is actually what prompted the prayer. At the time I assumed it was my personal health, well being or physical life that might be impacted. I think that is a natural assumption as a parent, rather than the very unnatural idea of something terrible happening to our child or children. However, as I prayed I surrendered everything I held dear to Him, including that which is most precious to me, my children. It wasn’t the first time I felt led to surrender all in prayer, I had done it many times in the past, each time recognizing the priceless value and weight of the offering. But each time I surrendered all in the past, like Abraham, my Isaac(s) left the altar with me, physically alive and well. That is, each time until this time.
I’ve pondered the significance of that specific prayer of total surrender on that specific morning many times since Sarah left. For three and half months I have not prayed that prayer again. I came close to praying it when we sent Sophie on Another Mission Trip and I in obedience entrusted her, as well as Katelyn and Kristen, to God. In my heart and mind, though, there is a difference between entrusting and sacrificially offering or surrendering. I recognize my inability to protect, preserve and sustain the lives of my children, so I entrust them to His care, and plead with Him to protect and preserve them as only He can. In the process of entrusting I recognize His sovereignty and surrender my futile sense of control and my fears to Him. However, when I with open palms before the Lord offer up my life and all that I treasure, namely my family, to Him, I am symbolically surrendering all on the altar before Him, saying, “take it and do with it whatever You please, for Your glory.”
Katelyn, Kristen, and Sophie are all traveling out of town without us this weekend. Kristen and Sophie will be going with our student ministry for Fall Retreat. The students are traveling in charter buses. They were both uncomfortable with the thought of riding in the bus, not for fear of the bus, but because they are both too raw to sit in a bus for a prolonged period of time, knowing it would trigger the agony of thinking nonstop about the details of what happened to our sweet Sarah. Kristen’s boyfriend will be driving them to their location, and Katelyn will be riding with her boyfriend’s parents to an out of town wedding. Fear so easily creeps in as I think about them traveling, especially apart from us. As I was praying for them today, entrusting them to the Lord once again, I felt that tug, that calling I knew would eventually come my way again. He was prompting me to place all on the altar once again, to lift my heart, my life, my family, my all to Him in surrender with open hands, palms up.
Today, after three and half months, by His grace alone, I did it. I moved beyond entrusting my family to Him while pleading for their protection, to praying with palms open before Him, saying, “whatever You choose to do with my family and my life, I surrender all to You, for Your glory.” My family and I have once again counted the cost, this time through the lens of fiery trials and excruciating pain, and He is still Worthy. He is worthy of our full trust and our total surrender to His will and working, whatever it may be. So, with a shattered heart and weary arms and hands, I stand before Him, palms up, saying, “All to Jesus, I surrender.”
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 [NASB]