Goodbyes, Hellos, and Embracing Surrender

Well, ladies and gents.. it’s real. I’m a college student. For real. Really.

In the chaos of it all, what I’m about to say may be semi-coherent. I’m sure there’ll be revisions. But it is my hope that you are encouraged and motivated by it. Here it goes.

Leaving a life behind is one of the hardest things I’ve yet done in my brief eighteen years on this planet. I’ve cried through many a painful goodbye in the past few weeks. Our fourteen hour drive from Florida to Virginia gave me plenty of time to become uncharacteristically emotional, and I’ve honestly been terrified, at times. But though diving head-first into the unknown isn’t exactly comfortable, God has given me constant reassurance that this is the path He has called me to walk, for now. And in that, I find confidence.

One message in particular has been metaphorically carved across the face of the coming year. In measure of frequency that is almost too great to be purely coincidence, one verse seems to pop up just about everywhere I turn. Joshua 1:9 (ESV) says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Boom. What? You want to quote it again? Cool, let me add emphasis this time: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO.” In the midst of the chaos that fills my mind, those words are a double-edged sword, stripping away every last worry and fear.

I have some thoughts on this that I’d like to share with you. To put the verse in its greater context, Moses (that parting-the-red-sea dude) has just died, and God is instructing Joshua (his intern, basically) to rise up and replace Moses as leader of His people. I think it’s very easy to overlook the context when referencing this verse, since the verse itself is so uplifting. But the context is so important because of it’s parallel applications to so many Christians – especially of the younger generation – in today’s world. As a member of this demographic (to whom I’m now directly speaking), the idea of rising to one day replace today’s Christian leaders is a daunting one. But it’s one we must embrace, and we must embrace it now.

In the culture we live in, it’s almost a natural tendency to hold back in hopes that someone else will take over the hard work in any given scenario. But if we hesitate to respond to a call placed upon ALL of us since the day we first ‘surrendered’ ourselves (Matthew 28:19-20; Ephesians 2:10; Mark 9:35; 2 Chronicles 19:6), then we simply do not fully comprehend the meaning of surrender. The word “surrender,” as defined by good old Merriam Webster, means: “to give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner: yield”. Read that part again- “especially as a prisoner.” This isn’t something meant to be taken lightly.

There’s something very interesting I learned recently while doing a study in James. (Alright, here’s your warning- nerdy Cassidy is making an appearance for the next paragraph or so.) In the original Greek texts, the apostles (Jesus’s disciples and some of their students) would refer to themselves in their letters each as a “δούλος” (doulos) of Christ. “∆ούλος” (doulos) is often translated as “servant,” however it more literally translates to mean “slave.”

Slave of Christ. Prisoner. How’s that surrender sounding now?

But stay with me for a moment.

Due to events in our human history, we’re extremely sensitive to the ideas of slavery and imprisonment. Every single scenario has gone horribly wrong. But why? Two reasons. 1) Humans are horribly flawed. Humans are evil by nature, and lust for a power that cannot truly be obtained drives man to do unspeakable things. 2) Equals cannot ever be truly superior to equals. Though for a time men may place certain men on gilded pedestals and others on filthy ground, humans are humans. And because our natures are all the same, we are all equal. There is no greater man, nor one less. Now think about this: How do these issues apply to God?

..they don’t. God is flawless. God is sovereign. God is Creator and Author of all.

So can we surrender ourselves? Can we really hand ourselves over into slavery? What if the Master is perfect and infallibly just? “Slave” is defined on as “a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another; a bondservant.” Total surrender of existence- it’s a tough thing to grasp. But let me ask you- Is there anything greater? Is there any better purpose to serve?

There’s a mentality I’m starting to take on: “If not us, then who?” I think it very simply but powerfully sums up the posture that we, the Church, must assume. It’s not an easy task, and I’m struggling with it on a daily basis. But it’s heartening to see so many students here at Liberty who seem to have found the answer to these questions and are actively pursuing their future roles in Christian leadership in every field imaginable.

So as I sit here in my temporary dorm (mine is still under construction) and consider these things, I am comforted. Though I’m full of nerves, there is so much peace in the promise that God is with those who embrace surrender. Here’s to evicting Doubt, for whom there is no more room.  “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Here’s to diving head-first.

Love in Christ,
-Cassidy Claire