‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Do you know a song entitled Surrender All? I believe it was written by Judson W. Van DeVenter.
I believe the lyrics go something like this:
All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
Then the song’s chorus repeats the phrase “I surrender all”.
If you haven’t heard it before I highly recommend it. Be warned however, it is not a contemporary christian song, I believe it is more of a hymnal. Nonetheless, the words speak truth into the life of any follower of Christ.
I mention this because it was the first thing that came to mind when I look back on the week of September 30th – October 4th. That was the week I, and the rest of the Future Leader’s, went to DayBreak to serve the children and the community they live in. I wish I had the vocabulary to express how it felt to be among children who lived in such an impoverished and dangerous neighborhood. We lived in a house that was converted into a safe haven for the 20 some children who walked or bused over after school to be tutored, played with, grown, fed, and just be children.
For me, this entire experience stretched me further than I have ever been stretched before. Since arriving at DayBreak in the afternoon, I was already placed in a position that was both novel and discomforting. This was not the home I was used to growing up in, or the streets I remember playing on. The brick buildings in the area were simple, some were in serious need of repairs, with cracks or chipped paint. The air sometimes had a hint of weed or some other drug, and across the street was a very humble playground where children were playing, yelling, and laughing. It was not a scene I was used to seeing and it brought a mixture of fear, discomfort, and sadness. It was at this moment, as I scanned this area I would soon call home for the next week, I realized that God was going to force me to surrender everything I had – specifically my pride.
Fortunately, I was not as thick headed as I was a few years ago. I understood what was expected of me during this “Urban Plunge” and I was ready to step out in faith.
I must confess, as I look at the word “plunge” I cannot help but laugh to myself because there isn’t a better word that describes what it felt like being at DayBreak in Lincoln Heights. The word plunge paints the picture of an individual who jumps, head first, into a body of water and landing right in the middle of it all, submersing himself entirely. There is no “warming up”, no “testing the water” with a light touch of your feet – nothing but a leap of faith into a dark green, murky body of water. Doing that, takes courage, yes – but it also takes trust, a complete trust in the person who asked you to take that leap into the freezing enigmatic body of water.
That person is God. Although probably not a surprising answer for many; it is THE church answer to say the least. However, what I sometimes fail to realize is that saying the right answer (in this case God), means nothing if I do not believe that it is the right answer.
Working along side my other future leader brother (just one) and sisters I realized that we were all in a place of either discomfort, uncertainty, or perhaps plain shock at some point in that week. We were all taking a “plunge” of our own, but the beauty of it all is God’s promise to be there for those who seek Him and lean on Him.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-9
How true this verse came to be as I chose to rely on God because in all honesty, I was useless. I signed up for things I was uncomfortable doing, and normally would never do, but I trusted that God would provide for me.
And He did…and more!
When you choose to surrender your treasures, your pride, your insecurities, and yourself, you empty yourself completely so God can fill you with His strength, wisdom, and love. I learned that being completely open to God can be a little frightening at first, but when you remember His promises (like Jeremiah 17) it will bring you new hope and give you the strength to jump into whatever unknown thing He asks of you – a plunge into any kind of murky and dark situation so that you can “shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:15)
And only because of God was that possible, I cannot take credit for anything – not even the drive to and from DayBreak. All things that happened that week was because God used me, strengthened my weaknesses and allowed me to serve in a part of DC that was darkest. Everything that happened that week was because God asked me to surrender, strengthened my weaknesses and allowed me to serve in a part of DC that was darkest. I surrendered everything so that He could use everything.