Lately I feel a deeper level of surrender to God. I hear His voice guiding me. I know He is with me. I’m less scared. More confident. Ready for whatever He has in store for me next.
One of the reasons is because of a book I just read. It’s called Safe Haven, by Mandy Imlay. Mandy wrote it in six days and then took a Sabbath rest on the seventh day, because she felt compelled to do so by the Holy Spirit. It’s a beautiful, poetic, imperfect, spiritual story about a woman’s journey as she grows closer to Jesus. The imagery invokes the lovers’ book of the Bible – Song of Songs. It truly makes you feel what it would be like to be with Jesus – to have Him hold you, comfort you, cleanse you and call you His Beloved.
This book was given to me as a gift by none other than the author. We travelled to England on a church choir tour, and we went to the Imlay’s house for lunch. We gave our hostess a cookbook, and she in turn gave us copies of her book. Of course, being a writer, I felt an immediate bond with Mandy and knew this was no coincidence. Sure enough, we have kept in touch, and it is also because of her example and encouragement that I am feeling so close to God. I long to be as utterly surrendered to the Holy Spirit as Mandy Imlay.
Ironically, it’s only through true surrender to God that we can be set free. I might find fleeting moments of happiness while still holding on to my independence, but I don’t experience pure joy unless I let go and give it all to Him.
So, just how do I go about surrendering to God?
Well, first, I have to make time for Him, and not in the ways I used to think. I have to connect to Jesus on a personal level so that I can hear His voice guiding me. Going to church and praying occasionally just isn’t enough for me to make this level of connection. I went to church for years and still didn’t really get what it was all about. I have to spend time doing the specific things that bring me into that state of being where I can feel God’s presence and hear His voice.
How each of us gets in touch with the Holy Spirt is extremely personal. Some of the ways that work for me are journaling (with an actual pen and paper), reading books like Mandy’s, and picturing myself with Jesus. Some people connect with God through exercise. Others have to spend a certain amount of time every day meditating. God didn’t create a one-size-fits-all way for us to connect to Him, because He didn’t create us all the same. We are beautifully and breathtakingly different from each other, in an infinite number of ways, and there are an infinite number of ways to connect to Jesus.
The second step to surrender is actually acting on God’s voice once I start to hear it. This is almost always easier than I think it is going to be, because the steps I take to get to the point where I hear His voice are actually what prepare me to be able to follow it.
For example, tonight, before I started writing this blog post, I wasn’t hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice. I’d been asking God what I should write about, but I wasn’t getting any answers. So I wrote an entry in my personal journal. I thanked God for Mandy and her book and asked Him to show me what to do with this gift, which I know is really a gift from Him. Just physically writing that much was enough to hear His voice again. His voice said to just accept the gift.
That’s all. Just accept it.
Well, that unleashed a wave of tears over the realization that I had been asking God what to do with His gift from a place of feeling like I needed to do something to earn it, something to make it all make sense that He would give me a gift in the first place.
I hadn’t realized it before, but I was full of guilt and shame. Of course, none of what I was beating myself up over was earth-shattering – I had spent a little too long playing a game on my phone and felt that perhaps I could have been more present. I forgot that I don’t have to be perfect.
After writing in my journal and really feeling the icky feelings I’d been trying to escape from, I was able to let them go, and ask for and feel God’s forgiveness and healing. Only then could I accept His gift, because only then was I able to accept that I am so, so loved. That of course, God would give me a gift like Mandy Imlay and her book. I am His precious child, His beloved, His most special one.
By the time I heard the voice of the Holy Spirt calling me to write this blog, there was no difficulty in following through with it. I was no longer worried about having to be perfect or pleasing anyone. All of my energy came from a place of love and overflowing fullness. In Mandy’s words, it was anointed.