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May 21, 2019 241 0 Jenson Joseph
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The Power of Surrender

Are You Empty Handed?

When I reflect on the question of simplicity in my life, I believe it is dependent on how much I am willing to surrender before God in my personal prayer time. This thought struck a chord in my heart through an analogy shared by my friend who is a full-time Catholic evangelist.

While he was leading a group of adults in praise and worship, this friend made them do an action song. One of the actions was to raise both hands up high and throw them out forward. After the praise and worship session, an elderly lady approached the evangelist and told him her hands were starting to ache after that action song, particularly because of this action. As soon as my friend heard this, he said the Holy Spirit spoke to him. This is the thought that came into his mind: When there is no weight in your hand and you throw empty hands forward, it is going to ache after some time – but if you hold something that has weight in your hand and then throw your hands forward, your hands will not ache as much.

What is the spiritual lesson from this? Many times, we participate in praise and worship or prayer sessions during a retreat or at mass but, despite our active participation, we still feel anxious or burdened. Any joy we feel after a spiritual program is momentary and does not last into the next day or week or month. This is because we have misunderstood the purpose of prayer, praise and worship.

Real Purpose of Prayer

We know that by praising God or by praying to Him we are not adding to His glory. He is God, He does not need our praise and prayer. We praise Him or pray to Him for our benefit. When we gather to praise God, Jesus does not stand before us like a celebrity and say, “Keep it coming. Give me all that praise and thanks because it makes me feel good.”

The Holy Spirit told my friend that Jesus stands before us in the position of a catcher and He moves from side to side in front of us hoping to catch our burdens, sadness and worries. The problem is that often times at these praise-and-worship sessions Jesus has nothing to catch because nobody is throwing or surrendering their anxieties to Him. We praise God and sing to Him, lifting hands that are empty and so despite singing with all our effort, after some time, the anxiety returns. This is a great lesson I learned about simplicity which was absent in my life because I did not understand the true purpose of personal prayer or praise and worship.

Jesus stands before me in the position of a catcher every time I show up before Him because I am not going to add to His glory through my prayer or praise. I pray and praise Jesus. The best way I can let Jesus help me is to throw my burdens and anxieties to Him as I sing, pray and praise. In doing this, I truly surrender myself into the hands of Jesus and I experience Him in my soul. Following that, I feel joy, which will last into the next hour, day, week, month, and my life becomes simple.

Am I Worthy?

Even as joy increases in my soul, satan throws another curve ball at me. How can God love me after all the times I failed to keep my promises? He goes about pricking our mind with the fact that we are repeat offenders. In other words, we do the same sins over and over again and therefore God cannot show us love and mercy. This is a crucial moment of confusion and doubt.

I came across a reflection on a bible passage by a Catholic priest. Earlier this year, I heard a speaker explaining that the words in the bible are saturated with the love of God. Even in words of chastisement spoken by God in scripture, we can find His hidden, immense love. I began to dwell on this and wondered if this were true.

What came to mind was the incident when Jesus tells Peter, “Get behind me, satan!” Here Jesus was foretelling about the great suffering, death and resurrection, which awaited Him at Jerusalem. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke him saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you” (Matthew 16:21-23).

Reflecting on all the times I broke my promises to God, I thought if Jesus called Peter a satan, what would he call me?

Saving Love

It was then that I heard this talk by a Catholic priest who said that when Peter was trying to convince Jesus to avoid the cross and suffering, Jesus realized satan was infusing those negative thoughts into Peter’s mind and his plan was to lead Peter astray. Peter was in trouble. Seeing the storm that was going to come upon him, Jesus told Peter to get behind Him, stand behind Him because he would be safe. In the Bible text there is a comma after Jesus says get behind me, then Jesus looked at satan and called him as such and said satan, you are an obstacle to me. We are not thinking as God does, but as human beings do. My heart melted and I was in tears when I heard this passage explained this way.

It was then I began to understand the role of Jesus as my savior. Satan roars at me and wants to lead me astray. At this point, Jesus places himself between the evil one and me because this is the role of Jesus, my savior. He makes me move behind Him where I will be safe and then He faces the storm. This makes satan even more agitated. As a result, Jesus suffers intensely, which is because of my disobedience in the first place. By placing Himself between storm and me, our heavenly Father looks at me through Jesus and so I receive divine mercy.

Other Side of the Cross

Meditating on Isaiah chapter 53, we find he opened not his mouth several times. Jesus was very calm and silent and this silence was so powerful that after nailing Jesus to the cross, satan lost every ounce of energy—he could not lift a finger nail to even scratch me. The picture I saw in my mind at the end of Good Friday is of Jesus on the Cross, Jesus who gave up His spirit; satan crushed to the ground exhausted and I was left standing without a wrinkle on my clothing.

You and I are children of the heavenly Father. We are His chosen ones, His beloved children. When we have this great privilege, how can Jesus call us satan? He sees the storm that is rising around us and commands us to get behind Him where we will be always safe. The other side of Jesus’ cross was not left empty without reason—it was so I would place myself on it, where I can freely surrender all my fear of approaching God. It does not matter where I have been because that place is reserved for me. It is not a place of condemnation but of hope and safety.

Dear Jesus, I thank you for filling my heart with great hope. Help me to surrender everything to you. Even when I fall many times into sin, let me approach you with confidence in Your mercy. Make me truly Yours, O Lord, as I offer into Your hands all the burdens I carry in my life. Amen.

Jenson Joseph

© Jenson Joseph has been part of Shalom Media as a speaker at the Shalom Conferences. He is featured in Shalom World’s weekly series “The Living Word". Jenson lives with his family in Michigan, USA. Watch his series at https://www.shalomworldtv.org/thelivingword

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