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Perfect Submission
All is at rest

Resting

by Dennis Pollock

In a famous hymn there is a line that contains six words which, if incorporated into our lives, would surely produce amazing peace in our hearts. The words are these: "Perfect submission, all is at rest." How many countless anxieties, fears, and sleepless nights could be eliminated if only we could learn to submit more perfectly to the will of our Heavenly Father!

 When we receive Christ and are admitted into God's wonderful family, we discover very quickly that, as much as we love the Lord and appreciate all He does for us, there are times when what He seems to want for us and what we intensely desire for ourselves are not a perfect match. The winds of God's providence and the passionate strivings of our ambition seem to be running in opposite directions. In human relationships there is always the need for mutual submission – sometimes we yield, sometimes they do, and sometimes we both compromise. With our great El-Shaddai, however, there is no such thing as mutual submission. God always sets the course and pace for our lives, and it is always our job to submit to His agenda, not come up with alternative plans of our own. 

Before we look further into the business of submission, there is a qualifier that must be given: Submission does not mean we go through our lives blissfully singing "Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be," and making no attempts to better our situations (or trusting God to do so). There are many things God has already made clear in His word, in which it would be unbelief to passively pray, "Whatever you want, Lord, is fine." If a child of God has no money for food, and nothing in the cupboard, it would be foolish to pray thus, "Father, if you want me to starve, that's OK with me. Or if you want to provide for me, that's fine as well. Just whatever you want, Lord, I'm good with it." Jesus has told us that the Father feeds the birds of the air and clothes the flowers of the field, and then insisted that the Father would surely provide for us. Asking God to supply us with our daily food - and then adding, "If it be Thy will," would be to insult the Lord and to contradict His word. We already know it is His will; Jesus has told us!

Once God has clearly revealed His mind, it is not the time to pray a passive, "Whatever you want, Lord." It is time to move forward in faith, knowing that God's commands always come packaged with His total provision. When Jesus called Peter to come out of the boat and walk on the water, it would have been folly for him to question whether it was the will of God for him to stay on top of the water. "Keep me up if it be Thy will, or let me drown, if You prefer," would have been an insult to the Master who had just called him out of the boat. When the voice of God has been heard, whether through His word or by His Spirit to our hearts, it is time to believe God. Accept nothing less than what God has promised. 

The Time to Submit 

This having been said, there is a time for submission, when we hold our desires loosely as we wait for God to reveal His will. Not all situations are covered by the promises or the word of God. The Bible says nothing about whether we should live in California or New York, or whether Bob should marry Sarah or Susan. There is often a period of time that must elapse before God reveals His will and makes His mind known. And during this time, we must find the grace to be able to say, "Lord, not my will, but yours be done." The classic example of this is found in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus at GethsemaneWe are told that Jesus "fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O MyFather, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Although Jesus had been telling His disciples for some time that He must be killed at Jerusalem, apparently the awfulness of the thought of being separated from His Father as He was made sin on our behalf caused Him to ask if there were not some other way man could be redeemed. Notice there was no faith stance for deliverance here. Jesus was not praying, "Father, Your word says you give your angels charge over us in all our ways. Your word says that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. Your word says that a thousand shall fall at my side, but it will not come near me. I stand on your word, Father, and thank you that I will not be put to death on the cross!" This was not the time for bold faith declarations. Our Lord stated that His preference was not to go to the cross, but ended with the ultimate prayer of submission, "Not as I will, but as You will." We know from what followed that the cross was the only way. 

I believe in aggressive faith! A number of times in my life I would have been lost without it. Standing on God's promises and insisting that He keep His word is both right and pleasing to the Heavenly Father. Radical faith in the word of God honors Him, and He has said, "Those who honor Me, I will honor." But sometimes when we begin to recognize the amazing power and results that faith can produce, we forget a very simple and important truth: God is still God and we are still men (or women as the case may be). He has very specific and definite plans for our lives, and when His plans and our plans are at cross-purposes, guess whose plans need to be altered! When God tells us that our faith can move mountains, we must remember that the mountains most easily moved are the ones God wants moved. I know! I have sometimes tried to move mountains the Lord had little interest in moving, and I can tell you that those mountains will hardly budge in spite of our most strenuous faith, our most forceful claiming of His promises, or our most hearty commands to the mountain. Shout, scream, beg, and cajole that mountain all day long, and still the mountain stares at you in utter indifference. 

Abraham 

Abraham

The man who is considered the quintessential man of faith was also a man of submission. In Genesis 22 we read that "God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.' Then He said, 'Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'" What an incredible blow this must have been! Abraham had waited 100 years for this son of promise, and now he was being asked to sacrifice him and given no reason for it. God doesn't seem to do it too often, but occasionally He will ask us to give up the thing most precious to us (or at least something very high on our list!) Keep in mind that submission is defined as "the act of yielding to the power or authority of another." When we are asked to do that which we love, and perhaps had planned to do already, that is not submission – that is simply agreement. When a husband tells his wife that he wants to take her out shopping and buy her whatever she wants, she does not reply, "You are my husband and it is my duty to submit to you, so I will go with you." Submission only comes into play when we are asked to do something we have no interest in doing - or even despise.

 In response to this heart-rending command, Abraham demonstrated an amazing level of submission. The Scriptures tell us "Abraham rose early in the morning" to take his son to the place of sacrifice. Not only was there submission and obedience but there was prompt submission and obedience. The great man of faith was also a model of submission. That which was most precious to him on earth must yield to the One in Heaven who was even more precious – the great God who had led and sustained him all his days. Of course we know how the story ends. God provided a substitute and Isaac was not sacrificed after all. Sometimes with our Isaacs (those gifts of God so very precious to us) the outcome is like that for Abraham. But other times God does indeed require them of us. The Lord gives and the Lord reserves the right to sometimes take away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. 

Key to Submission 

So where does it come from, this willingness to submit to our Father when His plans send shudders to our soul? It is not a matter of mere determination, or gritting your teeth, or making a dramatic vow with your fist in the air (Scarlett O'Hara style). The key to submission is always delight in the Lord. Godly submission occurs when you look at the storm that is brewing over your life, and consider the absolutely worst possible outcome – the "worst case scenario," and say to yourself and to the Lord, "Whatever is taken from me, whatever loss I may suffer, whatever painful path I may be forced to walk, I will still have you, Lord, and with You I will be satisfied." And there is no way anyone can say that and mean it without a serious prayer life and walk with the Lord. Just as God told Abraham, "I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward," Jesus Christ has become both our reward and our inheritance. As we abide in Him and delight ourselves in Him, submission loses its fearfulness and is tempered by the sweetness of His presence and the satisfaction of His will being accomplished in our lives.

 When Daniel's three friends were challenged by King Nebuchadnezzar to worship his golden image, their reply was the essence of both faith and submission. They said, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." They knew the God they served had the power and ability to deliver them. But they had not read the third chapter of Daniel. They knew that God did not always exercise that power; He might very well choose to let them become martyrs for His name. They looked into the possible outcomes of the crisis, saw what would be for them the absolutely worst case, and declared, "But if not…" Even if He chose to allow them to be killed, they would never bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's idol; they would follow God.

 The Scriptures tell us that those who follow Christ are to see themselves as sojourners in a foreign country. We are not to hold so tightly to our possessions or even our relationships that the possibility of their loss drives us to total despair. Nothing so honors God as when His children, tossed and battered by the storms of life, look into the face of those very storms and declare, "Jesus is my portion. He is able to deliver me, but even if He chooses not to, I am going on with Him." Special treasures of grace await those who come out of the storm having lost much, but with their faith in God and love for Christ stronger than ever. And as we submit, and even embrace the will of God for our lives, we shall know the meaning of those words: "Perfect submission, all is at rest."




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