“I have surrendered to your design.” The words of a popular Christian song struck me as I was driving home from a long trip. I had heard this song many times, but for some reason this line caught my attention this day.
It got me thinking. What is God’s design for me? And have I surrendered to it or do I tend to fight against it?
The Bible clearly tells us in Psalm 139 that we are “knitted together in my (our) mother’s womb(s)” by God Himself, our designer. It also tells us that as a believer in Christ we are “a new creation”(2 Corinthians 5:17) and we have been “born again” (1 Peter 1:23; John 3:3) Again our creator, designer has brought us to life. It talks of our “spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 12) that are given to us. The Bible tells us that God has specifically gifted us for the building of His church, to make disciples. It speaks of a spiritual transformation that takes place as we are sanctified molded like clay into Christ-likeness.
So yes, the Bible clearly teaches that God is my designer. That He has specifically designed me and is continually designing me. Now the bigger question, am I surrendered to it?
According to one source, “to surrender in spirituality and religion means that a believer completely gives up on his own will and subjects his thoughts, ideas, and deeds to the will and teachings of a higher power.” Have I completely given up on my will for how I’m designed/created? Have I subjected my thoughts, ideas, and deeds of my usefulness in everyday life to His design for me? Am I content with His design for me? Do I trust His judgements on this more than my own?
As I said, it got me thinking…
I began to take note of my design, my strengths and my limitations (my weaknesses). We don’t like to think of our limitations, do we? And yet, God, my Father, my designer has lovingly put on me limitations/weaknesses. I am limited intellectually, physically, artistically, emotionally. I am limited in knowledge, in gender, in abilities. I am limited in every way possible to a certain degree. I am gloriously and frustratingly limited.
My mom was just recently diagnosed with cancer. She has gone through surgery and will be having radiation soon. Her prognosis is good. They caught it early. She has had great care. We are thankful. But in the midst of a move, the cancer, and just the aging process, she began to feel really limited. We have gotten to spend more time together in the last few months than we have in many years. We’ve had opportunities to talk. Really talk. So she said one night, “I just feel so helpless, so limited.”
Wow! Isn’t God good? He used a line in a Christian song playing on Pandora on a trip back from a tennis tournament to get me thinking about this weeks before this conversation. Providential for sure. Personalized care for me (as the commercial says) Priceless. In that moment, all I could do was to praise Him for his care and his sweet, sweet providence.
So we talked. And I got to share with her what the Lord has been showing me, teaching me.
We’re all limited. Sometimes, we feel and see our limitations more clearly, but there’s never a time that we’re not limited. And it’s a reminder, we are limited, but God is not. He is unlimited. He is infinite. Totally unlimited in all His ways and in all things. And it’s in our limitations that He uses us to serve Him.
We tend to think that only the most perceivably gifted people are the ones who pleasingly serve God. We tend to compare our giftedness against someone else’s. We tend to only want those gifts that get applauded and receive accolades. We tend to see our limitations/weaknesses as bad. And yet, God tells us the exact opposite. He turns our worldly thinking on its head. In 2 Corinthians 12, through Paul he tells us this…
To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
The apostle Paul is given some kind of thorn, some kind of limitation, a weakness. We are not told what it is. I am glad about that, because we can all insert our own thorns in the place of Paul’s. Because here’s the thing, we all need grace (undeserved favor) and His grace is sufficient (enough) for everything and in fact His power is best understood (perfected/completed) in our weaknesses. It is best understood in our surrender to His design for us.
My hope and my prayer for my own life is this, that I would see the thorns, the limitations, the weaknesses not as things that hinder my service to God, but as the very avenue He chooses for me to serve Him. That I might live my life “surrendered to His design.” Knowing that “when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Editor's Note: This originally published at Prince on Preaching.