The Victory of Surrender
Part II of II
Christianity is full of paradoxes: “If you want to find yourself, you have to lose yourself . . . . The last will be first and the first will be last . . . .The greatest of all is the servant of all. . . .” The most important victory we can “win” for ourselves and our families is when we truly surrender to the will of God.
There isn’t enough space in our person for more than one — and so God is saying, “get rid of your self” and I will fill you with MY self. Or as Pope Benedict XVI put it (revisiting St. Augustine on the matter), we need to pour out the bitter vinegar of our ego so that Christ can pour into our souls the sweet honey of His Person, Who is Love Itself (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). Not a bad swap, but it’s not an easy swap.
What is absolutely needed to make this swap? Humility, surrender and trust.
To the rest of the world, those words can portray weakness and defeat. But to God, they are the banner of the saint.
In my previous post, I shared some great challenges our family has faced since launching Heroic Families. Several months of trials —mechanical, financial, emotional and spiritual — left us drained and unsure of this calling when we recently pulled into the ranch of a family friend who is allowing us to stay there, decompress and plan for the future.
Not long after, through an incredible work of Providence, an old priest friend who I haven’t seen in 20 years arrived at the ranch to lead a previously scheduled retreat.
Before he left, I sought his counsel and asked this wise Franciscan priest the best way to move forward with a dream of mine — both for my family and hopefully for countless other families — that was now seeming to tear apart my family because of the stresses we were enduring.
“Peter (pronounced “Pe-dah”),” he said with his thick New York accent, “surrender this whole initiative to the Lord with true humility, and put the next major decision that has to be made in another’s hands [he gave me a specific person]. This way you will constrain the devil and put the entire initiative in God’s hands. If God wants you to continue in this direction, then He will reveal that through this person. If it is another direction, then you will know that as well. There is no better way to disarm the devil trying to derail your family and this ministry than through humility and letting go of your dream.
“And really, Peter, it’s not letting go of it, nor is it abdicating your family leadership, it’s just putting it completely in God’s hands and exercising leadership through an act of humility. How can God refuse such an act?”
It was very, very hard to receive those words, but I knew he was right. So I obeyed and abandoned and trusted. And God is blessing that decision by giving my marriage and family a renewed peace as we work hard to discern God’s will for this next chapter in pursuing our ministry.
God is not asking me to let go of the reigns completely (“for we are God’s coworkers” 1 Cor 3:9), but He is asking me and my family to trust in HIS leading and let Him give the right tugs necessary to steer this ship as its true Captain. A father always takes delight in seeing his children thrive, but never forgetting Who provides that blessing. How much more, then, does our heavenly Father? It’s just never forgetting who gave us the talents and who holds the ultimate blueprint of our lives that only eyes of faith can read accurately.
So, my family continues its mission with less of ourselves at the helm, yet putting all of our effort behind what God reveals next. At a time when we were thinking all was a disaster and a deeply wounding defeat, God has stepped in to say, “You are EXACTLY where I want you. I want to lead you now into something greater if only you will surrender your dreams to me, For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:11). Do you trust me? Will you trust me?”
Jesus always asks us this question, and if your heart can honestly say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” then let Him lead your family to do something great for His kingdom. How will we inspire others to something great for the Lord, if we haven’t led from the front and if you haven’t some scar to show for it? This is what inspires others.
When we put everything on the line for the Lord, there is NOTHING that He doesn’t use to bring our souls and the souls of others through us to Him. Nothing will stop you from accomplishing His plan, no matter how many failures you experience. You and your mission are HIS and He WILL accomplish His plan in and through you. That ultimate victory begins, first, with the ultimate surrender.
Try it and share with the world your story of the greatness and mercy of God. He . . . and the world . . . are waiting.
*** Heroic Families is looking forward to see where God leads it to settle down by the Fall. During this launching year, the mission of Heroic Families is mostly supported by my speaking engagements to parishes and through leading retreats. And what is the mission of Heroic Families? To set families on the path to freedom and help you discover God’s unique purpose for your family! If you would like to support this mission and bring the message of Heroic Families and other specialized talks of mine to your parish or event, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit HeroicFamilies.com for more information about the topics I am offering. I would love to help you build up families in your community!
Editor’s Note: If you missed part one, you can find it on-line by clicking here.
Art: Unofficial Coat of arms of the Dutch municipality of Hoogeveen 1872 version, Arch, 2014, own work, “tempête (La Tempête Apaisée) (Christ Calms The Tempest), Raymond Balze, ca 19th century, meets public domain criteria. Divine Mercy, Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, 1934 [Painting in Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius], PD-US copyright expired, Wikimedia Commons. Heroic Families Logo used with permission.Le Christ apaisant la