As I seek solitude this morning, my heart is heavy and I find prayer is difficult. It has been a long time since my prayers felt distant and I miss the sweetness of the morning that is usually present. However, I have learned that neither the Lord’s presence nor His answers to my prayers are dependent upon my emotions and so I kneel there in the dark and seek His assistance, knowing that even when I don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit is there making intercession for me.
Yesterday I spent the day contemplating conversations with a friend and as I dwelt on her words spoken in love, the words of our Lord spoken to Peter repeatedly echoed through my mind. I could not understand exactly how they related to the conversation that was troubling me, but this morning I found they were once more present in my thoughts.
“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” I know the story from the last chapter of John of how Jesus asked Peter if he loved him and how Peter was grieved that He repeatedly asked, but this morning I found myself wondering, “what Lord? To what were you referring when you asked, ‘more than these?’ What is it that we love more than you – what is it that I love more than you?” and the answer is clearly “Anything. Do you love anything more than your precious Lord? ”
It was suddenly very clear to me – I do not love completely when I do not trust completely. I thought I had given Him – wholly given Him – my heart and then there appears in my life a situation which reveals the true nature of my heart and I find I do not completely trust Him. I cling to my own fears because I do not know how to surrender them, I do not know how to surrender them because I do not ask, and I do not ask because I am afraid to relinquish control. Whether it is my fear or my sin or both, the truth is – I do not trust the Lord in all things.
A great sadness washes over me and it mingles with a feeling of great gratitude as I realize that there have been times in which He has carried my fears for a season and like the footprints in the sand, I have not even been aware of His tenderness. But now He hands them back so that I can find the joy in willful surrender, for I cannot fully love nor can I fully trust until I fully surrender.
My precious Savior has been so patient with me all these long years as I surrender first this piece of my life and then that piece of my life, and each time I think I have surrendered all. I have learned there is no joy in a treasure that I must continually work to preserve, but I also know that I am unable to completely let go of anything without God first showing me that to which I am clinging, and then gently prying my hands off each thing that I have made an idol. He is never forceful in the prying, but patiently persistent showing me how to surrender my treasures that I might lay up treasures where neither moth nor rust corrupt. I know that the letting go is never pleasant and that very likely I will spend my whole life letting go – maybe sometimes even snatching back and then letting go again as I battle with a heart that often has divided affections. And so once more I find myself at His feet asking Him to take from me that to which I cling pleading for help to wholly surrender.