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Many people do not think about putting sweet and submission in the same phrase. As I prepared to speak at a women’s event at our church while we were home on furlough, this was the topic I was given to speak about.
The definition I found for submission was: “The action or fact of yielding to a superior force or to the will of an authority or another person.” The example sentence was “They were forced into submission.”
This is how our culture sees submission. Submission is seen as something that we must be forced into. Maybe it is just our human nature. For those of us who have been blessed with children, we know that they don’t easily submit to the will of an authority. There is that struggle all parents go through in establishing roles in the life of a toddler. “When my parents say something, I ought to obey [or submit, yield to my authority]” isn’t a built in toddler concept.
So what would be the outcome of a generation of people who weren’t taught to submit to anyone? They would think that they were in charge, that they make decisions for their lives, that they are the masters of their destiny, that they have rights, and you can’t tell them they are wrong.
Nothing about our culture says, “You aren’t in control” or “You aren’t the master of your fate.”
The Christian life is very countercultural; it goes against our sinful nature. The Christian life is full of submission. We ought to submit to our government and our church elders; we ought to submit to local authorities. We submit to our parents, our spouses, each other. We submit out of love.
This is a verse we all know well:
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
This is reality, so it ought to be our worldview. Culture says one thing, God’s Word says another thing. We want to build our worldview on what God’s Word says. This is our starting place for being able to live a life of sweet submission. We must believe that our lives are under the loving control of God.
We ought to love this because what this verse says is that you make decisions, you make plans, you set off on a certain path, but you have a loving God who is going to walk with you and He is going to guide you, direct you.
Submission is the state of our heart in light of this reality. Submitting to this truth is where we have to start. Then what we need to ask ourselves is whether we are submitting to His plans for our life and submitting to the people He puts in our lives.
I know it isn’t easy; I know that we all have hard things in our lives that are uncomfortable, that are hurtful, that are not as they should be. We live in a fallen world, and God may ask us to be submissive to a corrupt government; He may ask us to submit to an unloving husband; He may ask us to find joy in submitting to hard things. But when we get to these tough situations, there is comfort in knowing that there is a God in control and that He is directing our steps.
The Bible and church history are full of examples of men and women who did this beautifully. Think of Esther, Abraham, Moses, Darlene Rose, and Corrie Ten Boom.
Joseph is someone who always comes to mind. He was hated by his siblings. They ruined his best robe, they wanted to kill him, they sold him into slavery, he was in prison, and he was falsely accused.
Just one of these things would probably have put us in a bad mood.
But how did he respond? He responded with forgiveness, a fruit of submission. He said, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
Joseph realized this and submitted to the plan that God had for his life. He saw the big picture.
It makes you wonder if many of our bad and sinful attitudes come from a skewed view of submission and lack of a submissive heart.
We often want to point fingers and blame people to justify ourselves because of circumstances. When something doesn’t go our way, we start blaming things rather than submitting to the will of our Father God: traffic jams, bad weather, natural disasters, our employers evaluation, or our government’s decisions. Don’t all of these fall under submission to God? They are all circumstances being used by God in our lives that He promises will even benefit us. Romans 8:28 says that He is working these things out for the good of His children.
If we were to live in this truth and really believe this, we would be people who are full of joy, thankfulness, contentment, and love.
We recently had a situation in which we learned a good lesson about submitting to God’s will and plan.
Twenty years ago when I met Mike, he wanted to pursue a life of cruising. He thought to live on a boat, have children, and homeschool them all the while cruising around the world would be an ideal life. He drove a VW bus, loved to surf, loved the water, and was a new Christian. Not long after we met, he gave me this book entitled, Call of the Sea. This couple in the book sailed around with their three daughters, and they ate whatever they could. At one point in the book, they ate raw potatoes and turtle. I think I blocked most of that out of my memory, but I knew after reading that book that I was in store for a very non-traditional life. I remember thinking, “Oh, I hope I don’t have to eat raw potatoes and turtle!”
Then a few years later he came home with this video on tribal missions, and Mike reckoned he couldn’t justify sailing around the world when there were people who had never had a chance to hear the gospel. So off we went to the mission field, and we have been there for 12 years. But all these years Mike hasn’t forgotten the idea of sailing around the world.
So this last term he sought out to have a wooden boat built. It is a really long story filled with tons of lessons of submission. Our plan was to sail back home across the Pacific Ocean to the USA to start our furlough time. After building the boat, we had three very long stressful months of preparation. We had overcome many obstacles and were finally ready to get started on our journey only to encounter three solid days of bad weather and squalls. This was the worst month in this area for seasonal storms, so we decided to turn around and wait out this stormy season.
Because God’s Word has clearly shown us that God is in control, we can joyfully (even though there are days of disappointment and questions) submit to the plans the Lord has or us. We knew that the weather and the timing were all under the control of the Lord. We were confident if it was His will for us to leave by boat, the Lord would change any of these details.
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