Let’s talk about it…as Westerners, we all hate to be weak, or to be called weak, or to be thought of as weak, almost worse than all of the above, to feel weak! I mean, let’s face it, w-e-a-k is practically equal to a four letter word, (yes, I am aware that it IS a four letter word, but you get my drift). According to the dictionary, the meaning of weak is:
(1) not strong; liable to yield, break or collapse under pressure or strain; fragile; frail
(2) lacking in bodily strength or healthy vigor as from age or sickness; feeble; infirm
(3) not having much political strength, governing power or authority
(4) lacking in force, potency, or efficacy; impotent, ineffectual or inadequate
Seriously, after that definition, who in the world would want to be considered weak?! Anyone you know? No one I know. The truth is, we sometimes sort of distance ourselves and pity someone we consider weak…come on, ‘fess up! Weak, infeffective people make us uncomfortable and ineffective ourselves! Ugh.
Oh wait…uh…feeling a little sheepish here…there was one guy who seemed OK with weakness…His name was Jesus. He sort of invited weak people into His presence and then became weak on purpose in order to be put to death.
AH! Right; there were quite a few who followed after Him who owned the title of weak quite proudly, if you can believe that! In fact, a guy named Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV): Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” WHAT?!
You know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking that weakness didn’t mean the same thing to the early Christians as it does to us today! Surely. (Which is ridiculous considering that they lived under the iron rule of the Roman empire!) But, anywaaayyyy…
Because I’ve had a year of weakness…at least a year of it…on top of 8 years of Fibromyalgia, I’ve had cancer, kidney stones, we’ve had a car totaled in a no-injury accident (thank you, Jesus, for the safety of my husband); my daughter, son-in-law, and 3 grandchildren, (who have never lived away from us), moved over 9 hours away, we recently learned that our younger son and his family is moving yet farther away from us…and while none of it comes close to what Paul experienced, it is pain and yes, exacerbates a sense of weakness and powerlessness over our lives.
Ever felt that way?
One blow after the other…we take it, we fall down, we cry, we rant. If you are like me, you rail some at the Father, (if you look up that word rail, you’ll find it’s rather ugly) – you know, not so much ‘why me?’ as ‘why now?’ l seldom appreciate God’s timing…as if I could plan a better-timed universe. Laughable, right?
However, God is slowly revealing to me, (not because He’s slow, but because I am), that as Brennan Manning has so succinctly said, “It is important to note that submission is not surrender. The former is the acceptance of reality consciously, not unconsciously. There is a superficial yielding, but tension continues…Surrender is a moment when the unconscious forces of resistance cease effectively to function. The Christian no longer evades the call of the Spirit but accepts it.”
Um – SLAP. I’m a good Baptist girl; I’m fairly good at submission…yes, I said fairly, but when I was younger I was great at it. But surrender? Ceasing to resist the weakness and powerlessness that seem to have invaded my life?? Well, I would not win any surrender awards in Sunday School, let’s just say.
When the Christian surrenders to the Spirit on the unconscious level, there is no residual battle, and relaxation ensues with freedom from strain and conflict. Submission, on the other hand, is halfhearted acceptance. It is described by such words as resignation, compliance, acknowledgment, concession, and so forth. There remains a feeling of reservation, a tug in the direction of non-acceptance. Surrender produces wholehearted acceptance. (Brennan Manning, The Gentle Revolutionaries, as quoted in Reflections for Ragamuffins).
God knows the ‘tugs in the direction of non-acceptance’ that simmer under the surface of my life. Relaxation is not a natural piece of my DNA due to early childhood junk, so when drama or trauma or weakness strikes I can initially, mentally go back ‘there’. The idea, the promise that I could experience ‘no residual battle’ and experience ‘freedom from strain and conflict’ – just being extremely transparent here – seems like a pipe dream, folks.
And yet, and YET, isn’t that what our Father has been promising all along?? Peace, freedom, unchanging love, strength in the midst of battle and weakness? These gifts are offered, but will not be accepted or enjoyed with submission…I won’t accept and enjoy them with submission. We – I – must surrender wholly to my Father. As C.S. Lewis so aptly declared, either He is Lord of all or not Lord at all.
Perhaps that has been my battle all along – I confused submission with surrender. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I thought it was supposed to be hard work and tiresome most of the time – call it my Southern Baptist heritage. Submission, superficial yielding, can grow heavy and thus, wearisome; it eventually produces resentment. Whereas surrender, sweet surrender is wholehearted, filled with love and acceptance…a vast, immense difference.
i choose surrender. What about you?