As I’ve grown over the past couple years, several similar prayers have arisen in my heart and mind.
At first, I asked God to keep me on the path of growth and to help me let go of my need for self-reliance and control. More recently, I’ve been praying that God will help me to surrender and stay mindful of my neediness for Him. I’ve also prayed that God would keep me from ever returning to that place of self-reliance and holding onto an illusion of control.
But then, I still experience this nagging feeling that I should be able to hold onto specific thoughts or ideas that will give me a sense of control and calmness. If I could only come up with just the right way of thinking and understanding, I’d feel okay.
Sometimes I imagine God lovingly shaking his head at me: “Oh, Kelsey.”
Nevertheless, God has been faithful to answer these prayers, even though there are times I struggle against surrendering. It’s like a version of “Be careful what you wish for…”
Be careful what you pray for, you may get it.
Trusting God and being surrendered to his perfect will necessitates a letting go of my own understanding – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6. I presently have a deeper reliance on God and neediness for Him, but there’s still that human desire to elevate myself and my thoughts.
All of these anxious feelings boil down to my conflicting desires to trust in the Lord and simultaneously trust in my own understanding. At times it seems I’m using the Word of God to help me recapture a sense of peace and calm, rather than truly relying on God and his Word and Sacraments as the very lifeblood they are.
This morning, after praying for God to continue to deepen my reliance on him, I listened to one of Pastor John’s sermons on Luther’s theology of the cross. I then heard with new ears:
We are not yet one completely with Christ obviously, that’s true. We strongly gravitate like zombies toward the flesh and that’s why the faith that Luther spoke of had to be renewed day by day and consciously and purposefully trusting the Lord. You cannot live today on yesterday’s faith. Faith in the gospel has to be renewed day by day, which is why he said, “Wake every morning, make the sign of the Holy cross and remember your baptism.”
How comforting to hear the Christian life being described in these terms! Having to renew ones faith on a daily basis stands in stark contrast to my foolish attempts to figure out just the right understanding, once and for all.
Renew your faith today. You cannot live today on yesterday’s faith.