In my recent post, Christians spell SUBMISSION with an ‘h’ and a ‘c’, I first discussed the ‘h’ – HUMILITY. It takes humility to submit. We should deny ourselves, swallow our pride, and acknowledge that the Lord has full dominion over us and over all the things on earth and in heaven. I cited Jesus as the perfect example for both submission and humility. Now, we won’t change our model for ‘c’ – courage. Let us now complete the thesis:
It takes humility to submit; and it takes courage to humble oneself.
Why courage? Have you thought of an instance when you needed courage to humble yourself? Or to be more specific, can you recall a time in your life when you thought that your self-made plans would go smoothly and would be for the best? but then, God poked you and asked you to follow His direction, instead of yours?
Let us admit it. Humbling ourselves is sometimes painful. We are too proud. We even say to the Lord, “Show me first what will happen if I obey you; then I’ll see if I’ll obey.” But the Lord is telling us “Obey me first, then I will show you what will happen.”
Our pastor’s wife shared us her testimony of one of the crossroads in her life: career. She was then working with a Christian company, holding a high position, and was nearly expecting for promotion to the next higher rank. But the Lord suddenly spoke to her through her devotions that there was something else God would want her to do. God wanted her to leave the company and transfer to another. At first, she was really confused and frustrated because she already had plans well mapped out in her mind. But the Lord did not stop speaking to her. It took 2 years for her to follow. She was really afraid at first because she it wasn’t that clear to her where God would lead her, but she eventually followed. God used her in ways she never expected.
Now, let us see the perfect example of courage – Jesus! When his time was near, he prayed to the Lord at the garden of Gethsemane. His prayer goes like this:
…he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will”…for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”…he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. – Matthew 26:39, 42, 44
Jesus prays in Gethsemane
We can see here that even Jesus felt fear of what was waiting for him – death on the cross. In the earlier verse, it was even stated that he was “distressed and troubled”. It was too painful to bear, so he appealed to God the Father in a form of intense prayer. The ‘cup’ he was referring to was the wrath of God. God would pour out His wrath for mankind on His only Son Jesus, and the plan was irreversible (see Psalm 75:8). Jesus knew from the beginning that it’s impossible not to die on the cross. But, he took courage to humble himself to the Lord. He took courage to submit to His will by saying “not my will, but your will”. He took courage to face God’s grand plan for salvation – the cross.
This leads me to remembering the post that triggered me to add ‘courage’ in Christian submission. Last week, I stumbled upon the blog post, Pray for Christians in Iraq. We know what has been going around there because of the rule of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Our brothers and sisters in Christ are literally suffering from persecutions, physical assault, and all the most inhumane things we could ever imagine. Since the takeover of the city of Mosul, the militant group has given Christians an ultimatum: Convert, Flee, or Die. So we assume that those they killed were the ones who refused to convert and flee. They stood by their faith till death. They knew that they could be killed, nevertheless, they chose death over conversion.
It is hard to say that this is part of God’s plan. But as far as we can see, it is, primarily because it happened. Nothing happens in this world without God knowing it or without God allowing it. But one thing’s for sure, one thing we know: He knows what He is doing. He is our mighty, sovereign God. For those who have been persecuted and killed for the sake of His name, great is the reward that awaits them in eternity. What really struck me was their humility and courage to submit, NOT to the ISIS militants, but to the Lord. They did not kneel before other gods. They fought for their faith.
If we look into our own lives, of course there are areas that we find difficult to submit to the Lord. But let us be encouraged with the example of Jesus Christ and of today’s Christian martyrs, they submitted to the Lord even to death.
How far can we go in submitting our lives to the Lord?