“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10
It’s been just over a year since I made the decision to give my life over to Christ, and it seems like I’m learning more and more every day what it means to be surrendered to Him. Surrender doesn’t just mean trusting God’s plan for the big picture of your life, nor is an action just taken once, in choosing to accept Jesus as Lord. No, surrender is a much bigger concept. It means continuously laying down each and every tiny facet of your life at Christ’s feet, content in faith that He works for your good.
I am no expert at surrendering. I know that the Lord is present, and He is my hope in times of trouble, but I so often let my anxious emotions get the best of me. I feel as though I can’t trust in God to work. Instead I must take control. Sometimes I need a good reality check to remind me that I literally cannot handle anything on my own strength. I am entirely dependent on the Lord.
God provided a sweet reminder of this just the other day. I was travelling home from a Spring Break mission trip, with a new friend whom I had gotten to know quite well over the week. I love traveling, especially flying, but this was set out to be a stressful journey from the start. I knew as soon as I woke up that morning that it was going to be a rough day.
I got out of bed at a friend’s house, whose parents so graciously let us stay the night, and knocked on her bedroom door to say good morning. To my horror my voice, which had been raspy the night before from a week of singing and a slight cold, was nothing more than a squeak, barely audible even in the quiet of the early morning. Great, I thought, not only do I feel gross, but now everyone I interact with throughout the day is going to think I’m taking some horrible illness across the country!
We were heading to the airport in Charlotte early in the morning, after an 8 hour drive the day before. And we found out that our connecting flight wasn’t taking off from the same airport where we were arriving! We had to find a way to get across a major city to the other airport during our already tight layover.
My companion and I got to the airport in plenty of time for our flight, and I approached the self serve kiosk to check in and check my bag. As I swiped my card to pay the baggage fee, a red error message popped up on the screen. The machine spit out a ticket and I took it to the nearest airline employee to get some answers. As I started to tell her all about how I had diligently followed the on-screen instructions I realized that she had no idea what was saying. I couldn’t talk! After some creative hand gestures and close whispers, I finally got the point across and we sorted out the problem, but the extra time taken, and a long line for security, meant that our leisurely morning at the airport was about to become much faster-paced. We got through security and had just enough time to get some breakfast before hopping on our flight. I went to Starbucks and my friend ran off to look for a vegan-friendly option.
As I waited for her near our gate, I started to look up the shuttle to take us between airports at our first destination. After a quick Google search, which I should have taken the time to do before this moment, I found that shuttles were not a part of public transportation! They had to be reserved ahead of time! Around the same time that I made this realization I heard the first boarding call for our flight. My friend was nowhere to be found, so I knew I had to take action. We wouldn’t be able to book the shuttle once we were in the air. I frantically tried to make the reservation on my phone all while juggling my carry-on and a hot cup of tea with a lid that didn’t quite fit. I got another error message: all same-day bookings must be made over the phone. I dialed the number but quickly hung up. I couldn’t talk. At this point the second boarding call came over the loud-speaker. I sent a text to my friend asking her to hurry back, then a phone call, but I got no answer.
A strange feeling of despair came over me. After the rise of anxiety I had been feeling since I got to the airport, my heart just sank. I knew that there was literally nothing I could do to fix the situation. The only choice I had was to wait.
I felt so helpless. Surely a well adjusted adult could have found her way out of the situation. But there I was, about to miss my flight, without a plan for my arrival, and having no idea where my friend was. I was stuck. So I sat and I prayed.
I was completely at the end of my ability. I couldn’t even explain to the flight attendant that they needed to hold the flight for one more passenger. I couldn’t do anything but wait in hope. I asked God to heal me, to delay the flight, to have a flying car waiting to take us to the other airport, and just about anything else I could think of. But then I paused. None of those things were what I really needed. As the third boarding call rang in my ears, I asked the Holy Spirit to fill me with the peace that comes from faith in Christ.
I may not know how the Lord will pull me out of sticky situations, but I know that every predicament I find myself in is a part of His plan. He weaves together the events of my life for my good: that is to mold me to be more like Christ, and to bring me closer to Him. Anxiety is a feeling, and one that I struggle with a lot. I don’t have much control over my initial worry, but I do have the power to combat those anxious thoughts with the knowledge of who Christ is, and who I am in Him. That is true surrender, the conscious decision to lay down all worry, over and over, to Christ, knowing that you will be protected and carried through the storm by Him and only Him. I needed that experience in the Charlotte airport to be reminded that I can do nothing on my own. I live only by the strength of Christ.
My prayer was interrupted by a figure in my periphery, my friend running toward me. We fumbled for our boarding passes with hardly a word to each other as we sprinted toward the gate. The flight attendant shot me a look of annoyance as she scanned our tickets, closing the door behind us. We were the last two on the plane, but we had made it! And after finding our seats and talking about what we would do once we landed, my friend kindly reminded me of the new-fangled invention, Uber. I popped a few throat lozenges, plugged in my headphones, and settled in for a relatively uneventful day of travel.
I’m working hard to get my voice back. Tea and honey have been the best medicine, and I’m on the road to a speedy recovery. This experience taught me a lot about surrendering my anxieties to the Lord, and rejoicing in Him through feelings of helplessness. Going forward, I want to focus on making this decision to surrender daily, hourly, or perhaps minute by minute, knowing that even when I’m not completely incapacitated, I am still fully reliant on God.