Have you ever heard the saying that a lesson will come to you time and time again until you understand what it has come to teach you? Well, I guess you can call me a slow learner. I wasn’t happy with the ways things were going in my life, and I was haunted by this persistent, nagging feeling that something was missing. I found myself circling the same problems over and over, making decisions only to end up right back where I started. No matter how I thought I had progressed, nothing was really changing. If anything, my problems were only becoming worse and increasingly more complicated. When my ideas failed, I would go back to the drawing board and try again – fingers crossed – that something would be different this time, that the dam would finally break and my life would suddenly shift in the right direction. I was on a relentless quest for answers that would give me peace. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “X marks the spot.” It’s a reference to a bright, bold, sometimes red, “X” on a map that is used to identify the location of buried treasure. However, the treasure I was seeking wasn’t money, diamonds or any other material thing. Peace was the treasure marked on my map with a big red X. It’s the treasure I knew I would find once I found the answers I believed were out there – somewhere – hidden in someone or something.
To my dismay, my plan consistently led me to the wrong spot and the wrong answer. In my search for the right answer, I started going in mind-numbing, endless circles. Yet, I persisted in following my plan because I was certain it was going to work – eventually. I knew the answers were somewhere out there, and at some point, I would find them. But things didn’t change, the answers didn’t magically appear, and I grew tired of making the same mistakes over and over. I felt stuck, and I couldn’t bear to go around the circle one more time. So, I started asking myself the hard questions? What was I missing? Was there something I didn’t want to see? What was I afraid of? What had to change within me so that my life might change? I questioned and observed whether my decisions were based on fear, anger, resentment or bitterness. As I became more mindful of my actions, thoughts, and intentions, I finally began to see why everything I tried hadn’t worked. To my disbelief, I had not yet surrendered to God. I thought I had let go and let God a long time ago, but in all honesty, I had not. I wanted peace but only on my terms. I was stuck in a circular pattern of behavior. When God gave me an opportunity to see and face the truth, I would look the other way and try my plan again because the truth seemed much too difficult and painful. Doing things God’s way meant that I had to deal with the discomfort and inconvenience that came along with the truth, and I wasn’t ready to turn my world upside down. So, I would find something in my plan – the tiniest thing to hold onto – to convince myself to give it another go. This was my pattern. But what I received in return wasn’t peace. There was usually a momentary break in the clouds, but it was fleeting and temporary because it wasn’t true peace. It was simply an intermission in the drama.
After taking a hard look at myself, I knew that I had reached the end of my plan, realizing that it was creating more chaos than calm. I was tired of going in circles, and I knew something had to change. So, during a quiet walk in the park on a Saturday morning, I asked God to show me the way out, and he showed me the truth. That was the day I finally surrendered. I knew that whatever I feared might happen when I let go, wasn’t going to be worse than the emptiness and unease I felt within. At the gates of surrender, I opened myself up to see what I had refused to see or couldn’t see before. I was ready to accept the truth however uncomfortable it might be. This time, I was not going to look the other way. Facing the truth -the war within – wasn’t easy, but it finally enabled me to walk out of the wilderness. I wasn’t going in circles anymore. I understood that it was time to allow everything I fought so hard to hold together to fall apart and allow it to rain in my life. There was to be no more manipulating or controlling situations so that things would work out the way I wanted them to. Allowing the rain meant releasing my hold on my life to God and trusting Him to set my crooked paths straight. He promised that the rain would wash away those things that didn’t belong and He would heal the broken parts of me that had contributed to the confusion in my life. And this time, the foundation of my life would be built on what He had created rather than on my own design, which proved to be fragile and unstable. When I first surrendered, nearly everything in my life was topsy-turvy or upside down. I was broken, and the rain was falling hard. In fact, it was torrential. But you know what? I felt more peace and joy than I had in some time. I felt free. And in the midst of all this upheaval, I celebrated my reunion with joy. I was no longer afraid of what was going to happen because I knew God was in control. I was no longer burdened to hold everything together for everyone or to be what anyone else wanted me to be. It was as though my soul let out one big sigh of relief while simultaneously bursting with hope and expectancy. At the gates of surrender, God gave me beauty for my ashes. I stopped running away from the pain of the truth, and I ran towards Him in total and complete surrender. I had entered into a real, genuine relationship with God.
So, what’s the point of all this you ask? What was the lesson that I learned from going around and around in circles? Do you remember the big red X? That treasure I had to find that would resolve all the problems in my life? I discovered, the big red X, the treasure I had searched for years to find was hidden in me all along. I was the big red X. You are the big red X. The lasting peace, joy, contentment, our purpose; all these treasures we search for and long for, are already inside of us. It doesn’t exist outside of us, and until we realize that, we will search the world over, going around in needless circles seeking someone or something else to fill a need that only God can fill. The key to finding peace and discovering all the treasure hidden within is surrender. Surrender is not only the place where we relinquish our will to God’s greater will, but it’s also the place where we develop a true and lasting relationship with God. It is not only letting go, it’s also holding on to God like never before.
So now you know. Your search is over. You hold the treasure. The answers, the peace, everything you’ve been searching for is right there inside of you. And if you’re ready to unlock and release all that God has stored on the inside of you, just let go. Surrender. Release your plans to God and ask Him to show you His plans for your life. He already has them prepared for you. Jeremiah 29:11 states “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I was afraid of letting go at first, but I can tell you that nothing in this world could have given me the peace and hope I found in God. My life is evidence that His plans are far better than ours, and they are indeed good. Trust Him, trust His plans and it will change your life forever.
Until next time, remember, with God, there is always hope.
With the greatest love,