There are two paradoxes of the Christian faith. One is that submission brings victory, as seen in the above scripture from James 4:7, ‘Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you’, and the other is that weakness brings strength, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Often submission is seen as a sign of weakness. However, in God’s eyes, it is a voluntary choice that we make to come under His protection and authority. It was Jesus who triumphed over the devil, not us. Yet if we hide ourselves under God’s ‘umbrella’, or covering, then His authority and power protect us. The difficulty is that we need to let go of our pride and independence first before we can fall into God’s hands.
I experienced this first hand a number of years ago, when our school took prefects on a leadership course to teach them courage and team work. One of the ‘tests’ was to climb a ladder up to a horizontal narrow steel pole, ten metres above the ground. Learners were then put into safety harnesses and had to walk six metres on the pole across to the other end. This looked terrifying to all of us, but, as a teacher, I realised that I had to set the example, and so up I went.
My mind knew that I was perfectly safe walking along the steel tightrope because the harness was attached to a safety wire above my head, yet it took great courage to step out. In the same way, although our heads know that God will keep us safe, our feelings of fear are screaming at us. I did it, but the worst was yet to come!
At the other end of the high pole was a trapeze swing that hung a metre out of reach. To grab it, I had to let go of the supporting frame and fling myself into mid-air, focussing completely on the trapeze bar. The harness and the people holding it down below would stop me crashing ten metres to the ground if I missed the trapeze bar, but my heart was believing none of it. I eventually screwed up every ounce of courage I had and made the leap. I made it, and exhilaration followed the fear. As a survivor, I could then encourage the learners to face the challenge.
God used this terrifying achievement to teach me a spiritual lesson: that we need to scrape up our courage and fling ourselves in glorious abandonment on Him, knowing that He has us safely ‘harnessed’ to Him and He will not let us fall. So, surrendering to God gives us His strength to achieve what we thought was impossible. But we have to trust Him and let go first. Are you ready to take your leap of faith?
Prayer: Help us, Holy Spirit, so to trust God our Father that we are prepared to commit ourselves completely to His care. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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