Surrendering, to everything and nothing
The life I lived was the normal life. All the expected requirements: A college degree, career, married with two children, a dog, a cat, two cars and a mortgage. We were busy with family, work and church. My husband and I were smart, successful and attractive with many social obligations and parties to attend. This was it, ‘Happily Ever After.’ At least that was what we hoped others thought about our life. The truth was something else.
In September the divorce papers were signed and 14 years of marriage ended. I was devastated. No husband, no job, no money; I was forced back into the job market once again. The Lord was gracious to provide more than one job and still I felt I was living on the edge emotionally as well as financially.
A miraculous event occurred in December. I received a job offer in Bethel, with a salary providing more money than I ever dreamed of earning. Plus, another dream came true. As a young girl I desired to live in Alaska with the Yupik Eskimos. So North to Alaska we traveled: my reluctant daughter, my adventurous son and optimistic me.
The job was the most challenging job I had ever had. It was exhilarating with powerful responsibility I had never known before and yet at the same time my adrenaline was pumping, I felt overwhelmed, scared and lonely. The answer to all my problems was finding a body of believers that would serve as my extended family. I shopped around for a church that would fit my theology. There were seven or eight in that remote part of Alaska and I could not find a fit for the children and me. Two Christian women I knew from work came to my aid and joined me in my apartment for a weekly time of worship and Bible study. They attended a church and invited me to join them. I refused because I had visited their church once and was unimpressed. However, the time we spent together in prayer and worship in my apartment was like no other experience I had ever had. The Holy Spirit was right there with us and his power of love was all I needed.
During a time of prayer with my two Christian sisters, I gave it all up to Jesus. To him I gave up my past, my present and future. I asked him to be my husband and I would be his bride. If I never knew physical love from another man, I would be all right. If he wanted me to stay in Alaska and rear my children and work at this job for the rest of my life, I would do so, happily. If he wanted to take all of this from me and send me to places far away and unknown, I would do it. I gave him my wishes, dreams and control. I said all that for the first time in my entire life, and I was telling the whole truth. What I felt at that moment, I’m not sure I can put into words. I felt hollow and full at the same time. I felt nothing and everything; attached to nothing and yet a feeling I had everything without even asking for it.
Nowhere in the dictionary did I read this definition of surrender, but that is what I did that day. Now, let me tell you what happened next.
Jesus did not plan for me to live alone and raise my children without an earthly father. The next month I met Philip at the church where my friends attended. We were married in that same little church in Bethel, in front of a church full of witnesses. We both had two children and one year and two months later, we were blessed with our own baby girl. Now we had five children. God gave me the desire of my heart for more children, which I had never voiced to anyone, but he knew. Surrender had brought me into the abundant life promised to each of us who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. I had read about it and now I was living it.
No, the story is not quite over. Surrender. Have you read the small fine print? Surrender is a process. It is what I have had to do with each of our children. It is what I have to do whenever my husband travels to remote places in bad weather. And what I have to do with my health, hopes, fears, the times we live in full of wars, earthquakes, storms, financial worries and all sorts of threats to the life that we know. I surrender all to Jesus: These words are more than just beautiful lyrics to a song sung at an altar call.
Carol Welty Roper is a published author, illustrator and poet. She has co-authored with three young authors, as well as illustrated their published books.