PASTOR COLUMN - Surrender to the God of peace and hope

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Surrender ... it sounds like what you do when a gun is pushed into your back. I know my hands would reach for the sky.

Maybe it's not a literal gun. Maybe it is the pressure of circumstances pressing into the vulnerable areas of finances, relationships or job security. In these kinds of situations, I've certainly thrown up my hands a few times.

Note to self: Surrender is giving up to what controls me.

In a relationship with Jesus Christ, the word "surrender" is not so much about throwing up your hands when circumstances have caught you unawares. It is about opening up the vulnerable areas of your life to the tender embrace of a Father in heaven who wants to walk with you through uncertainty.

This isn't religion, it's relationship.

As a pastor and friend, I have often looked into they eyes of the desperate, hurting and lost. How does one cope when life has pulled, or is about to

pull the trigger?

Recently, in my devotional reading, I was struck by a psalmist who found himself surrounded, yet surrendered.

Take a moment and read Psalm 74.

While under siege from the Babylonian empire, and at a moment when the sanctuary was in smoking ruins along with towns, homes, and the livelihood of Israel, the writer somehow pulls his sorrow, frustration, and anger around squarely to a place of renewed surrender to the maker of heaven and earth. For him, God was still king. Somewhere beyond his human mind, God was still in control.

Sitting in Jerusalem, in view of deserted ramparts built from the destroyed remains of homes tenderly built, homes that once had held the laughter of children and tears of love; ramparts built from surrounding cities and towns once occupied by farmers and shepherds ... maybe he could still hear the bloodcurdling cries of war and loss. Seeing streets of blood that once carried wedding parties and playful children - this was

pretty intense.

There had been no sweeping miracles of deliverance. No hand of God had been seen. He laments that there were no prophets to bring hope. And yet, his heart and mind were drawn to the mighty power of God. The God who split open the sea; the God who created the world and set its boundaries; the God who made summer and winter.

Before this seemingly distant and detached God, this psalmist still held on to hope.

I'm not a doomer and gloomer, but as I survey the turmoil in the Middle East, rising expenses at home and a society carrying $14-trillion in debt, I wonder what our nation and world will look like five years from now, if not in just a couple.

I can think of moments in my life when things seemed very bleak and hopeless. Have you ever been there? Are you in that kind of place now? Though I may not have seen it or felt it at the time, I know now that He was ever present and ever at work behind the scenes. I know, because I walk in relationship with a God who

sees beyond what I see.

This singer of songs encourages my heart. I hope you can find some courage too. No matter what happens around you or in our nation, resolve to keep your heart and mind surrendered to an all-powerful and all-knowing God.

I would never wish to see such a day as this psalmist did, but I know that in such a place and time, God would also be present.

Surrendered, defined, means having no control.

Ultimately we surrender to whatever has control.

I'd rather surrender to the control of a loving God who knows my tomorrows than to circumstances bent on controlling my today. To quote the psalmist, "The day is yours and also the night." If life feels like a trigger about to be pulled, I would encourage you to talk with a pastor or Christian friend. Together, you can take the hand of a God who is loving and compassionate and just maybe, surrender to the God of peace and hope.

The Rev. Tim Johnson is pastor of New Joy Foursquare Church.He and wife Shelly graduated from Life Pacific College in San Dimas, Calif.

In 1997 they moved from Kennewick to Walla Walla to start New Joy Church. They and their three children love the Walla Walla Valley and its people. You are invited to follow Pastor Tim on his blog: http://theptblog.blogspot.com. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at catherinehicks@wwub.com.

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