Surrendered

10:42 AMHeather

My oldest son is a huge military buff.  It truly amazes me how he is so like my dad--whom he never knew.  Sometimes, I walk in to see Collin engrossed in some Military History channel marathon and I can nearly picture my dad sitting next to him.  Two peas in a pod.  Collin is fascinated with the strategy and tactics that lead to one side gaining victory and other side surrendering, waving the white flag.

Surrender.  Doesn't really hold a positive connotation in our culture, does it?  We hear surrender, and think, fine, I give up.  Having worked in adoption for 17 years, I often hear this phrase used about birth mothers who "gave up" their child.  In one of my earliest adoption workshops, the point was made that it's not an accurate depiction of adoption.  Birth mothers don't wave a white flag and "give up."  A more accurate depiction is that they made a plan for their child's future.  They deliberately and intentionally considered the very best for their child, motivated by love, to have a plan for their little one's very best interest.  

And, so in our own lives, we must reframe our idea of surrender.  We must have a paradigm shift on the ole white flag.  Because to live in victory and fellowship with our God, surrender is necessary.  And, it's a GOOD thing.  Really--it is.  I hope that today, I will challenge you to enthusiastically wave your white flag and surrender all you are and all your dreams to our Faithful Father.  This morning, the Lord whispered a truth on this subject that I think might just ease this idea of surrender.  Read it, and re-read it.  Please.  I think He intended it to make an impact.


Surrendering your dreams and hopes to the Lord does not mean settling!  Quite the contrary--surrendering means releasing your hopes for the best in order to receive His plans for your best.

Joseph is a master example of someone who graciously surrendered his dreams and hopes, and although his life did not look anything like he'd surely imagined...God's very best mind blowing plan took root because of that surrender.  Surely, Joseph's early years were filled with big dreams as he pranced around in that coat of many colors.  I bet he never imagined that instead he'd be sitting in a jail cell interpreting the dreams of other prisoners.  But, that's just what happened.  I'd really like to know the details on just how it was that Joseph kept his focus on the Lord.  What sort of quiet times did he have?  

While we don't know that, we do know some pretty important things about Joseph.  God poured out favor on Joseph.  Even in slavery, even in prison.  Yesterday, we saw that the Lord gave Joseph success in whatever he did (Genesis 39:23).  Even as a prisoner, Joseph seemed to have made the most of every situation, certainly by clinging to the Lord.  He found favor in his trials because he looked for it.  That requires surrender.   A surrendered soul?  In Genesis 41, Joseph is given a big opportunity when he is called to interpret Pharaoh's dream.  And his response tells us all we need to know about Joseph's surrender and God's favor.

"I cannot do it [interpret the dream]," Joseph
replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give
Pharaoh the answer he desires."
Genesis 41:15 

This was Joseph's chance to be the BMOC--the big man on campus.  He could be the hero and save the day and maybe, just maybe spring himself from his prison. Instead, he chose surrender.  He pointed an unbelieving Pharaoh to the God whom he served.  Kinda dicey if you ask me.  Might offend the ruler.  Bringing up the One True God and all?  Surrender indeed.  

Joseph surrendered his dreams and hopes and he did not settle.  Instead of his hopes for the best, he got God's plans for the best.  Just look what happened.  Pharaoh tells Joseph in Genesis 41:39:

Since God has made all this known to you,
there is no one so discerning and wise as you.  
You shall be in charge of my palace, and
all my people are to submit to your orders.
Only with respect to the throne will I be 
greater than you.
If I were Joseph, my hopes for the best might be freedom.  But, God's plans for the best were to give Joseph the keys to the kingdom.  He placed Joseph in just the position for such a time as this when famine occurred, and Joseph had the God given wisdom to save the people--including, get this--his very own betraying brothers AND his dad.  When faced by the very men who sold him into slavery, Joseph did not exact revenge.  Nope.  He surrendered.  And, he saved their very lives.  Guess what happened next?  Dead relationships were resurrected.  Once alone and rejected, he ended up in sweet fellowship with his entire biological family.  

And, he ended up in a position of power.  Yet, it was one he did not abuse.  Obviously.  We see in Genesis 47 that Joseph has commanded the people of Egypt to give one-fifth of their harvest to Pharaoh and retain four-fifths for themselves.  Sure, he gave them the seed for those crops.  But, in a time of famine, you'd think these people wouldn't take kindly to being told to give back part of their precious crops.  Let's remember--these are not God followers.  These are Egyptians.  The response of the people tells us all we need to know about the kind of man Joseph became through his obedient surrender. 
"You have saved our lives," they said. 
"May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; 
we will be in bondage to Pharaoh."
Genesis 47:25

That is not asking for favor in the eyes of our LORD, but in the eyes of our lord--lower case.  As in Joseph.  Even in the midst of their hard times, these non-believers were grateful and humble--not bitter and entitled.  And, Joseph was the sort of wise ruler--humbled and surrendered to his God's leadership--that he evoked this kind of response from these people.  

Glimpse of grace:  When I consider Joseph, I'd think his heart's cry would be to be saved.  To be saved from his circumstances.  To be saved from prison and servitude and his foreign land.  That's what I'd want if I were him.  I'd hope for the best--that I could just get out and get home.  But, just look what surrender did for Joseph?  Instead of just being saved himself, he was a conduit to save a nation and even his very own family.  Home?  Well, home came to him when his brothers and dad showed up on the scene.  I suppose in his process of surrender, he realized that home was wherever he walked with the Lord.  Home was obedience--that brought blessing.  Nope, surrender does not mean settling.  Surrender means releasing your hopes for the best in order to receive His plans for the best.  His plans that are immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).   Dwell on these words.  And, may you be moved to wave that white flag!
 

 

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