Devotion: Surrender to God

May 19, 2020

Chaplain’s Devotional by Rev. Susan Roddey, Director of Spiritual Life at Abernethy Laurels 

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14)

My wonderful daughter graduated from college on Sunday! Since she was young she wanted to go to the college that my husband and I attended. It is a very difficult college to get into and has a demanding work load. She has worked so hard in all her years of school and we were able to celebrate her success together the other day. My daughter is fortunate: she has two supportive parents who have cheered her on; she has a secure home; she never has had to wonder where her next meal came from; she has a computer; and she has parents who could afford to give her tutoring. She worked hard, received financial aid and helped earn her way in college with a job, but she has been given much in life to help her be a success.

Not true for the graduate in the following story reported on ABC: Bianca Jeannot, 22, shouldn't have made it this far. After losing her mother at age 18, living in a homeless shelter for seven years, and working to take care of her two disabled brothers, Bianca's situation was bleak. In fact, she didn't even believe she could attend college, but she made a way. “I worked up to four jobs at a time, three on campus and one outside of campus. I worked for marketing, I worked for the admissions house on campus, I worked for payroll, the IT department," said Bianca. All that hard work paid off. She's now getting her diploma. Bianca kept her eyes on the prize and succeeded with amazing resilience and dedication. I can’t imagine doing what she did.

The Apostle Paul had a goal – “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” He was willing to give all to achieve this goal – to know “the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death.” He shares that he presses on “to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made him his own.” And he tells us how he strives to do that – by “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” How often we look behind us and let the past hold us hostage. It is impossible to look forward in faith and hope when we do so. If Bianca had kept looking backward at all the misfortune and difficulties she was given, there is no way she would have succeeded in meeting her goal. Paul let go of all the wrongs he had previously committed so he was no longer bound to them but given the strength and resiliency to press on to a resurrected life. Christ lived in Paul as Paul pressed on to live in him. We need to surrender to God, to place our sins in the hands of Christ so that we can turn and live life to the fullest in Christ. It is the hardest thing we ever will do and yet as we do we find that it is easy as we are unburdened from the weight of them. We are free to become who Christ calls us to be – humble, strong in our weakness, compassionate people, leaders who reflect God’s love. We find our lives resurrected in the present as we hope for and trust in resurrection in the future.

Prayer: O God of the resurrection life, help us to press on in our faith to give ourselves fully and wholly to you. Amen.