A few years back I was in my classroom teaching a group of energetic 6th graders, when little did I know, my teaching would encounter a startling interruption. The sun was shining outside and it was a beautiful day, not too hot and not too cold. It was the perfect day to prop open the door and hear the sounds of nature as a backdrop to my instruction. I couldn’t tell you what I was teaching that day, and looking back, I’m going to guess that the students wouldn’t be able to recall the content either, but they will forever remember the events that unfolded.
Before I go on, I want to preface this story by saying nothing violent or dangerous happened in my classroom that day. No one was harmed and we weren’t in danger. Nevertheless, when a loud thud rattled the windows of my classroom, everyone jumped a little in their seats. My classroom had windows that extended from waist high to the ceiling and lined one entire wall of the class. It created a very peaceful setting, peaceful to everyone except the little bird who had unknowingly flown into my classroom and slammed into the window.
As the students began to take in what had happened, they were saddened that the bird might be injured, or worse dead. They were also perplexed by what had just happened. Much to our relief, the little bird started hopping around. It had been momentarily stunned by its run in with the window, but it was quickly coming around. It absolutely didn’t want to let me help it get out of the class. It was afraid and refused to surrender, even though it was likely the only way it would find its way out of the room.
I was able to capture my uncooperative friend and gently take him outside my classroom. I had contained him in a little basket with paper draped over the top. Once we were outside, I removed the paper and stepped back. I had only captured him so that I could release him safely into his natural environment. The little bird hopped out of the basket, took flight, and slammed right back into my classroom window. Once again he was inside my room and unwilling to let me help him escape. To him it was a live or die situation and to surrender could mean his demise.
What he didn’t understand is that he needed to surrender to survive. He needed to trust me and my attempts to help him. His instinct told him I was a threat, but if he had stopped, if he had the capacity to understand he would have jumped into the basket willingly. Eventually he tired of flying and I was able to once again capture him and this time the school custodian took him way out into the field to release him where he wouldn’t risk flying into my room for round 3.
Often we approach God much the same way. We need to surrender to live, but we are so stuck on doing the same thing over and over, going it alone, that we can’t see that His way is better. We need to trust Him and be fully confident that He doesn’t want bad for us. He wants to protect us, shield us, and walk us out of our patterns of trying to go it alone to depend on Him. We must also surrender in order to live the abundant life He has for us.
Our instincts to go it alone come from deeply rooted ways of living and often survival patterns that took root in the pains of our life. We learned that trusting others can hurt. We learned that being vulnerable can hurt. We learned that exposing our weaknesses can leave fatal wounds on our hearts. By fighting back against instinct we take a risk, we expose ourselves and we take a posture of submission to the Lord. It is in that freedom that we will finally be released to live a fulfilled life.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
1 John 4:16