Written by Rachel Morgan
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
– James 4:7 (NIV)
Submit. Resist. Not my favorite verbs. The definition of submit is to “yield or surrender to the will or authority of another; to subject to a condition or process; to commit to the consideration or judgment of another; to allow oneself to be subjected to something.” That is simply not natural. Humans (specifically the American variety) are all about personal space, boundaries, authority over one’s affairs, freedom of choice, speech, etc. -quite the opposite from this whole submission concept. However, James 4:7 clearly states for us to submit ourselves to God.
In the last year, I have experienced more growth in my faith than I think ever before. However, it has definitely not always been fun, easy, “successful” and definitely not always made sense. In fact, for a good majority of the last 6 months, I started resisting God’s complete authority over me even though I had seen what a great work he was doing in my life. Sure, I still went to church, I still served, I still participated in bible study and even felt a little bit of growth- all the easy stuff. However, I still would not relinquish control over the one area of my life that was the most dangerous, the most toxic …and the one God was trying hardest to heal me of. I held on with white knuckles to that sin while he gently beckoned me to recognize that He is good, he has a plan for my life, and that this sin had no part in my life. While I entangled myself further and further back into this sin, he softly whispered in my ear, “…lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and run with endurance the race that is set before [you]”(Hebrews 12:1b)and “For freedom [I have] set [you] free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1).
So, submission is the most recent goal I am striving towards. It finally breached my thick skull that this is the only way any real work is going to be done in my life. I experienced Christ’s salvation out of the entanglement of sin and all of the emotions that go with such an experience, but I stopped there. I left all of the responsibility up to God and accepted none for myself. Because of his gracious gift of free will- this tactic simply doesn’t work. When all the emotions settled and I got into a steady pace of life, it became easier and easier to only seek those emotions and not progress towards the new life to which I had been called.
Submit and resist are active verbs, not passive. They imply effort and conscious choices being made. Once this realization was made, I began making lists of practical and basic steps toward behavior change. It was uncomfortable and honestly, though I desperately wanted to change, I was even skeptical of the change I wanted actually happening. However, a week passed and I saw my prayers answered in the areas I specifically targeted. Even more awesome was that I recognized the moments when my flesh was weak and I felt myself faltering- and Christ came through, triumphantly. I saw clearly Psalm 28:7 being played out: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and he helps me.” Having such moments where God can show off his strength, grace and beauty make the journey to those moments worth it.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
1 Peter 5:10
You can read more about Rachel here.