Is Fear Stopping You from Total Surrender to God?
Inside: Fear of stepping outside of our circumstances can stop us from total surrender to God. What to do when fear strikes and you don’t know how to surrender. Includes a free printable, including a half-page version!
“If God tells you to do something, He has already got it done,” Charles Stanley said in a message on obedience. It’s scrawled on my dry erase board. I could hang a plaque with that quote on my wall or get it emblazoned on a T-shirt, it sounds so good! Making a pretty plaque would be the easy part. Living it out? Not so easy.
You probably know what I am talking about:
- God nudges you to speak a kind word to someone who is not so kind to you, and fear of a rigid response stifles your tongue.
- God puts it on your heart to pray for someone in a store or at a restaurant, and fear of embarrassment keeps you from offering.
- God says “Return the first fruits of your income to me, and just watch the blessing I will pour out on you,” but you’re not making enough to make ends meet, so fear rules your checkbook. The question seems legitimate: Where will you get the money to pay your bills?
It is at this intersection of fear and surrender that we meet the widow of Zarephath. You might want to jump down and read the account, which is printed for you below. God kept Elijah alive during a drought by giving him a brook to drink from and meat and bread brought by ravens morning and night.
The brook dried up, and God unveiled the next part of His plan: He told Elijah to go at once to Zarephath, which was not in Israel, and that He had commanded a widow there to feed him. So Elijah arose and went.
Can we just pause here and notice the immediacy of Elijah’s obedience? This is a man totally surrendered to God. Maybe if God had recently kept us alive with meat and bread brought to us by birds, we would do the same! Can I prod deeper, myself included: Have we perhaps been similarly cared for by God and not noticed His hand in our survival?
So Elijah arrived at the gates of the city of Zarephath and spotted a widow. How did he know this was the widow God had directed to feed him? We aren’t given an answer. Elijah walked so closely with the Lord that he just knew.
Another pause: This was likely not the only widow in the town; furthermore, this poor woman was gathering sticks for the fire on which she would cook her very last meal for her and her son, and then, days later, they would starve and die. Their provisions had run out, for the drought had affected the surrounding countries, too, not just Israel. So . . . why did God choose this unlikely candidate to feed Elijah while he dwelt in that land?
Could it be that she needed a miracle, too?
As we walk with God, let us not get so self-centered that we believe the story is all about us. We are woven together with other people in a beautiful fabric designed by our Creator God.
Now we see the fear: This woman–already skin and bones from rationing her food, torn apart with sorrow in the very depths of her being picturing the death her son will endure–is afraid. How could this strange man be so bold as to ask her for food and water when she has only a handful of flour and a little oil?
But Elijah challenged the woman to push through her fear:
13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” (1 Kings 17, ESV)
It is a presumptuous request: Yes, go make the meal you had planned, but first bring me some food. Might I paraphrase this? “Do what God asked you to do first, and then just watch God prove Himself to you.” I’m not sure theologians would agree with me, but do you see it?
The Audacity of the Request
To add to the audacity of the request, this woman doesn’t even believe in God yet! Look at verse 12. She says, “As the LORD your God lives . . .” [emphasis mine].
So Elijah is asking a woman who is about to starve to follow through on something a God she doesn’t believe in has asked her to do. And if she does it, from her practical, human, mama perspective, she might feed her last morsel of food to a stranger rather than to her son.
Is any of this striking home? Maybe it seems too dramatic to compare to our lives. Let’s break it down:
- God makes a request of us that doesn’t make sense. (Be kind to the unkind person; pray with the server at the restaurant; give God our first fruits, even when the numbers don’t add up.)
- To consider following through leads us to places of fear and unbelief. (What if they’re mean back to me? What if I’m embarrassed? How will I pay the bills?)
- Will we surrender?
Read verses 15 and 16 and celebrate with our dear widow:
15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah. (1 Kings 17 ESV)
Are your hands and heart raised in praise to our faithful God? Charles Stanley knows what he is talking about: God asked Elijah to make an odd request. He asked the widow to do do the unthinkable. And God already had it done.
Oh, dear friend, there are rewards in obedience, in surrender, but the motivation of our surrender should not be for our benefit. Will we follow where God leads us just because He is God and we are not? Will we trust His provision in our lives? Will we open our hearts to total surrender?
What has God brought to your mind to surrender to Him?
Click on a link to access a free printable of a Prayer of Surrender!
Digging into God’s Word: Total Surrender to God
You may recall from our last devotion on surrendering to God’s will, that Elijah had informed the king of a drought, and God had hidden Elijah by a brook and had commanded ravens to bring meat and bread to him morning and night. Eventually, the brook dried up, and today we see that God had a plan in mind for that, too!
1 Kings 17:8-16 (ESV)
The Widow of Zarephath
8 Then the word of the LORD came to him [Elijah], 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.
Digging Deeper: Your Time with God
Take time to be quiet with the Lord, either now or throughout the week. If you like, you can journal about these questions and sing with the songs linked below. If you like cool Bible facts, check out the Extra Info near the end of this devotion.
1. Read 1 Kings 17:8-16. When have you been able to relate to the widow? You may not have been on the brink of starvation, but you may have felt times of desolation or abandonment, even from God, in your life. Reflect on how you felt during those times.
2. How do you see God’s hand and His plan in this passage? Think back to that Charles Stanley quote: “If God tells you to do something, He has already got it done.” How does that help you push through your fear of total surrender to God?
3. What have you not surrendered to God because of fear? Fear of the unknown, fear of change, and fear of embarrassment are all possible causes. Pray about that now, asking God to help you surrender. If you like, you can use the prayer below, and print out your free printable of it here (8.5 X 11 version, half-page version).
Dear Lord, I come to you now, in need of your wisdom and direction. I bring to you this situation [name it, describe it]. . . . I open my hands and my heart to hear from you [open your hands]. Help me to hear your voice clearly. . . . What you have asked me to do, help me to do with faith and courage. What you have asked me to release, help me to release to you and not grab back as if I know better than you. I surrender to your will. Give my feet your direction and my will your will instead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
4. Let these songs minister to your soul as you contemplate total surrender to God:
The Stand (Hillsong)
Love Broke Thru (TobyMac) (Put the windows down and sing this one out!)
Just Be Held (Casting Crowns)
If you have found this devotion helpful, please like and Share so others can hear the good news, too!
If you liked this devotion, you might also like these posts:
- How to Get Better at Surrendering to God’s Will (Devotion 1 in our series on Elijah: Fully Surrendered)
- How to Follow God’s Voice and Be the Miracle–Part 1
- How to Follow God’s Voice and Be the Miracle–Part 2
Did you know that Jesus mentioned Elijah and the widow at Zarephath? In Luke 4, He reminds us that a prophet is not accepted in His hometown and God’s good news is for everyone, regardless of nationality or background!
24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. (Luke 4:24-26 ESV)