Lindsey Mitzel ponders how to abandon her own will in order to follow what God asks of her.
The entrance song began, and the wedding party started to walk down the aisle. A familiar song, written in my college days, resonated.
Behold the eyes of the Lord search the face of the earth
To find hearts that are given, seeking souls to make pure.
To enflame this world’s darkness, to warm cold hearts with grace.
Am I here, Lord, for such a time, for such a place?
The bride entered, the chords rose and the words filled my mouth, my heart and all around me.
Here is my life Lord: heart mind and body.
My soul’s surrender, take it for your own.
And you will lead, I know, where only love can go.
Here is my life, O Lord, my life for you.
It was the most beautiful wedding entrance I’ve ever encountered; the bride walking toward her groom fully surrendered. Her entrance was only made more lovely by her story; one of deep surrender continuously throughout her life. She and her now-husband wished to reflect and proclaim Christ’s love for His Bride through their marriage (and mission accomplished with their entrance alone!). But this has deep meaning for all of us, part of Christ’s Bride, as well.
As I prayed about this post, the words on my heart were, “Give your heart to the Lord. Surrender. Totally surrender.” I happened to come across a talk given by Elisabeth Elliot some years ago in which she discusses our agenda vs. God’s agenda. She talks about how bitterness, anger, and a lack of peace can arise from the agendas we lay out, whereas when we are surrendered to the Lord’s agenda in our lives, we can be filled with peace, even if things seem to be going wrong, because we know that God is our Loving Father who cares deeply for us and who is omnipotent and omnipresent. Elisabeth has written,
The heart which has no agenda but God’s is the heart at leisure from itself. Its emptiness is filled with the love of God. Its solitude can be turned into prayer. (The Path of Loneliness, Elisabeth Elliot)
She is also known to have said, “Trust and obey, there is no other way.”
It’s taught that Lucifer, full of pride, declared, “Non serviam” (I will not serve), subsequently being thrown out of heaven. As St. Michael cast him to earth, tradition understands he responded in contrast, “Serviam” (I will serve).
Such a simple story, yet it’s provided so much food for thought in the past few weeks. You see, we are moving. But not just moving. We are selling our house with four kids 5 and under, a dog, and a cat. Did I mention we’re also building? And that we don’t know when our new house will be completed? By selling our current home, we’re effectively rendering ourselves homeless (with those needy littles, dog, and cat).
We haven’t done any of this on our own. Our village has helped us every step of the way. Yet as we approach our first showings with my husband working tough hours and my little people with their toys and crumbs, I find myself thinking or saying a refrain of this phrase a lot, “I can’t do this.”
Before we go down the road of “You can’t do this, but God can,” I want to make a distinction. This phrase can so quickly become not as much feeling overwhelmed with my to do list, but almost a determination not to be involved in something, or a resistance to it. For example, when my toddler is temper-tantruming galore in the moment I am trying to just feed my kids and clean the dishes, a resistance often rises in me, “I don’t want to do this.” The Lord has been gently showing me that this thought, this uttered phrase, this resistance in me is only another “Non Serviam” with high gloss.
Let’s skip past anxiety and being truly overwhelmed and needing a break and needing help. Those are all so very true and pertinent. However, for me, there is also another voice that can sneakily enter my heart. I feel done. I want a break. But is it just rest I am seeking, or am I determining that I don’t want to do this next hard thing? Is the Lord inviting me to persist just a little bit longer in this present moment, and say yes to His will for me right now?
A few days ago, within the span of just a couple of hours, my wedding ring broke, our newly refinished deck got some decent damage, my toddler started pouring buckets full of white sand on our asphalt driveway, and with a particularly messy diaper change, I had poop all over the floor and my hands (this seems to be my lot in life).
We don’t need to go into the accompanying general angst and tantruming, but that was there too (from me … just kidding). More happened and it was one of those times where all the messes were so relentless that it was actually sort of funny, even at the time. God has shown me these are the moments when I can say yes or no to Him. These are the opportunities to affirm in my heart, “Serviam” or “Non serviam.”
How can I choose “Serviam?”
In receiving God’s love and delight for me and for my kids, and to give to them in joy. Do I do this well? No. Am I more peaceful as the Lord is teaching me about His Providence and His great Faithfulness and deep love for me? Oh yes.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. (Philippians 3:12)
In a practical way, I have found that music or singing is helpful to reorient my heart and mind and emotions to God. Especially when kids get demanding, sometimes I’ll play worship music or sing something like this: “Jesus, I love you, I worship and adore You. Glorify Your name in all the earth.”
We also have a picture of Jesus’ Sacred Heart hung above our mantle. I can look at this image during meals (when whining can be hardest for me) and try to pray, “Jesus, I trust you. I entrust all this to You.”
I have always heard that fiat means “So be it” or “I will.” Another definition, courtesy of Merriam-Webster is: “An act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort (according to the Bible, the world was created out of fiat).” How can I choose fiat in my daily offerings? It is exactly the opposite of the temptation to resist the hard stuff. Jesus does not buffet Himself from the hard stuff. He is completely vulnerable to it.
I was watching videos of some of my children as newborns recently. It is just amazing how totally vulnerable and delicate they are. Jesus gives this level of vulnerability to us as our model. He goes to slaughter as meek as a lamb. Mary’s fiat was an acceptance of the Lord’s will for her, hard stuff and all. The Lord is inviting me to resolve to surrender and be faithful, even in the hard stuff.
I want to offer two more quotes which I think exemplify this orientation to being disposable and surrendered to the Lord:
When we have nothing to give,
Let us give Him that nothingness.
Let us all remain as empty as possible,
So that God can fill us.
Even God cannot fill
What is already full.
God won’t force Himself on us.
You are filling the world
With the love
God has given you.” (St. Teresa of Calcutta)
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me: I surrender it all to you to be disposed of according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more. (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
Jesus, help me to surrender to You today. Help me to be faithful to Your will for me, especially in the hardest moments I will face today.
Copyright 2021 Lindsey Mitzel
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About the Author
Lindsey Mitzel is a nurse practitioner and mom to four littles. When not wrangling with or reading to her kids, she can usually be found doing something outdoors. She appreciates dry humor, a good pun, and strong coffee. You can read more about her at Eight and a Half Months. Lindsey also occasionally writes for Be Love Revolution's Tiny Thoughts blog.