Caitlan Rangel witnesses a friend’s deep surrender and discovers the practice of daily surrender through listening.
Until recently, I didn’t ask God to help me surrender to Him each day. I don’t know if I thought it was possible. I don’t know if I really wanted it. Only through witnessing the deep surrender of a dear friend have I heard God’s invitation to surrender in the circumstances of my daily life. Here’s a glimpse of my friend’s story, and suggestions for how we can listen to and act on God’s desires for us each day.
My friend texted, asking for prayers as her 2-year-old son was on his way to the ER. She found a mass in his belly weeks prior and the doctor had said it was a hernia. But as her family was on vacation, her son developed another fever, and she knew something wasn’t right.
Parents know that feeling — something's not right. We know the pangs of fear and anxiety for our children’s health and well being.
Waiting and testing, more testing and waiting. The results: tumor, cancer, surgery, chemo.
And as my friend was cold-water-shocked into this new reality of having a child with cancer, I witnessed a level of trust and surrender that shocked and inspired my faith-life-system.
Of her strength she said, “It’s not me. It’s the Lord.” Of their struggle and pain she said, “If we have to go through this, I want to help others come closer to Jesus by our witness.” Of the words of doubt, resistance to prayer, or whispers to not reach out for help, she said, “That is not of God.”
And as I walked alongside my friend, disintegrating whispers infiltrated my awe — You can’t surrender like she does. That terrible pain and trauma is necessary for surrender.
You know those whispers — the ones filled with distorted envy, anxiety, and hopelessness. The one from whom they come wants to take us down, take us away from the service of God and others.
When I perked up to whom those whispers belonged, I put my foot down, and said, “No thank you, not today.”
And I listened again. And words of truth flooded in and poured out: Help me to listen to you, Lord, and thereby surrender to your plan for me today. Amen.
God calls every single one of us to surrender each day in the circumstances of our lives. It starts with listening.
Listening to Faithful Friends (Real & Podcast)
We practice surrender when we listen, really listen, to the words of faithful friends and family who love us. When we listen to their wisdom, affirmations, words of encouragement, and challenges for us. When we listen to their stories—how their days look, what challenges they face, where they need our support.
We practice surrender when we listen for how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the day. I’ve felt the Holy Spirit at work like crazy through the gift of certain podcasts. In particular, Abiding Together creates sacred space for the listener, offering beautiful encouragement and sense of community. I really do praise and thank God for these women and their podcast.
Listening to Desires God Places in My Heart (Good Things!)
We practice surrender when we listen to and act on the desires that God places in our hearts. God also whispers — but, His voice is gentle; he pulls us toward what is good, beautiful, and true. He beckons us toward His pace, His vision.
I practice surrender when I pick up a book midday (instead of using every moment for “productivity”), and sit down to read while my children play around me. I practice surrender when I pause reading to give a hug, answer a question, or pick up a crying little one.
What pulls does God place on your heart? Do you recognize them as His? Do you listen?
(Not) Listening to the Evil One
We practice surrender to God’s voice of truth, when we let go of and stand against lies. The evil one hates us and hates what God wants to do in us. His voice seems to sneak up on us and we indulge in his lies. Every day, we need to perk up our ears and hearts to what words are not of God. Those words that cause anxiety and fear — nope, not of God. Those words that brew envy and jealous — get out of here, Satan.
God restores order, brings integration. He is the one who makes us whole, who leads us in holiness.
Listening, Surrendering Today
It has been an honor to journey with my friend as she carries the cross of having a child with cancer. To listen to her. To pray for her. To learn from her. To see God at work in and through her. Thanks be to God for living in every one of us, for leading us closer to him through each other.
How can you create the space and practices to foster listening to the tender voice of God? He desires to speak with you of his good plans for you today.
Copyright 2021 Caitlan Rangel
Images: Canva Pro; copyright 2021 Caitlan Rangel, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Caitlan Rangel relishes in the ordinary being the extraordinary, fresh air, morning coffee with a little cream, and stolen moments of quiet. Her greatest joy is being anywhere with her husband and three children, especially when mountains are involved. Caitlan writes to empower parents to be the primary educators of the faith with Pathways Formation Suite, and blogs at Pure in Heart.