What Happens When You Surrender Yourself to God?
Inside: To surrender yourself to God, letting him take the reigns of your heart and your actions, is one of the hardest things in the world. Today’s account takes me places I equally long to go and find fearful. Let’s find the path together. Includes a free printable with a prayer of surrender.
I don’t know what you need courage for today. Last night I needed courage to light the pilot light on my hot water heater. There’s nothing like knowing you could blow up the house to make you read the instructions carefully and dig deep inside to muster extra courage.
Do you ever need courage to face Monday morning or to stick with your discipline plan with your children? How about courage to start a new exercise routine or face a new stage in life?
Sometimes we need a special kind of courage for harder things. Do any of these strike a chord?
- Sticking with a priority you know God called you to follow despite other people tugging on you to compromise.
- Keeping your mouth shut when you want to scream with all your might. Or the opposite: speaking the truth truly in love and not for any personal gain or out of any judgment.
- Persevering or fighting through a marathon of a relational struggle.
- Courage to pray the tough prayer and with open hands accept God’s answer.
When God calls us to surrender to Him, He calls us to release our grip and leave the consequences to Him. This is easier said than done, wouldn’t you agree?
I have wrestled with today’s passage all week. It moves me in my inmost being. I have never heard a sermon on this passage, taught a Sunday school lesson on it, or read a devotion based on it. It is wedged between two dramatic accounts–the raising of the widow’s son and Elijah’s confrontation with the the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
But today’s reading deserves no less coverage. If you’re needing extra courage for what you are facing, this account models how to surrender ourselves to God and leave the consequences to Him.
The entire passage is printed for you further below. Consider the first 4 verses of 1 Kings 18 (ESV):
1 After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. 3 And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, 4 and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.)
You have to have read verse 10 to learn that the ruthless King Ahab had been searching for Elijah, presumably not to have a friendly conversation over lunch. You might remember that God had spared Elijah during the famine by hiding him by a brook and commanding ravens to bring him meat and bread. When the brook ran dry, God told Elijah to go to Zarephath. There, through God’s miraculous provision, a widow had provided Elijah with sustenance.
In today’s reading, when God asked Elijah to appear before Ahab, who clearly had been on the hunt to do Elijah harm, “Elijah went to show himself to Ahab.” I’m not sure my obedience would be so immediate!
Then we meet Obadiah, the man in charge of King Ahab’s household. This was likely not the same Obadiah who wrote the book of that name in the Bible.
We see in verses 4 and 13 that when King Ahab’s wife Jezebel had started to kill the prophets of God, Obadiah had saved 100 of these prophets. He hid them by groups of 50 in caves and fed them, thereby keeping them alive during this reign of terror.
Look at the courage of these two men! This is more than the courage it takes to light a pilot light or face a tough meeting at work. This is the type of courage practiced by the brave people who hid their Jewish countrymen during World War II.
This type of courage doesn’t just spring up happenstance. Its foundations are honed and developed over the course of time. Catch what Obadiah says in verse 12:
And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth.
Here we learn that Elijah walked so closely with the Lord that the Holy Spirit sometimes carried him from one place to the next! Oh, how I long to walk so closely with the Lord that His Spirit could move me from place to place. That is surrender. Lest we think Elijah had any special powers, James 5:17 reminds us that Elijah was human, just like us. The power was all God’s doing in a man who had surrendered his life to the Lord.
In verse 12, we also learn that Obadiah had feared the Lord from his youth.
Both of these men had nurtured their relationship with God, and with this deepened relationship came courage to face the most difficult of situations.
If God can protect and sustain these two ordinary men–Elijah and Obadiah–as they acted courageously, surely He can help us persevere in our marriage, with our children, or through a tough situation at work. And when life threatens to sap us of all courage to make it through, God can protect and sustain us in ways we could never imagine.
God is here for you!
- Look how He had positioned Obadiah inside King Ahab’s household in order to protect a company of prophets!
- Remember how God had saved the life of the widow and her son and fed Elijah during the famine.
How has God positioned you? In what ways is He asking you to act with courage, surrendering the consequences to Him?
Elijah the Tishbite was a prophet who was fully surrendered to God, and God worked through him in mighty ways. Click on a link to access a free printable of a Prayer of Surrender!
Digging into God’s Word: Surrender Yourself to God
As you read today’s account, notice how God had positioned Obadiah and how quickly Elijah responded to God’s commands. Obadiah’s fear is palpable, the threat was so grave. Yet Elijah held his ground, fully surrendered to God.
(Extra info: The large groups of prophets in that time were schools or companies of men who were devoted to God and served Him, but they likely did not have prophetic gifts.)
1 Kings 18:1-16 (ESV)
Elijah Confronts Ahab
1 After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. 3 And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, 4 and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.) 5 And Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys. Perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.” 6 So they divided the land between them to pass through it. Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.
7 And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. And Obadiah recognized him and fell on his face and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?”8 And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’” 9 And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10 As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. 11 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ 12 And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. 13 Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here”’; and he will kill me.” 15 And Elijah said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him. And Ahab went to meet Elijah.
Digging Deeper: Your Time with God
You won’t ever regret this time. As you are able, spend time with God, reflecting on these questions or journaling your thoughts.
1. Read 1 Kings 18:1-16. What do you learn about God in this passage? Have you ever felt positioned strategically for God’s purposes? Has God ever asked you to do a terribly difficult thing for him? How did that go, and what was the outcome?
2. What do you learn from Elijah’s and Obadiah’s examples in this passage? Note that their courage was not rebellious, impulsive, or to reap any personal gain. These men had developed disciplined courage over many years of trusting the Lord. What steps to develop your faith walk does this prompt you to take?
3. How is God calling you to surrender yourself to God today? Pray about that now, asking God to help you trust Him and to help you surrender to Him. If you like, you can use the prayer of surrender below, or 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. As you worship with these songs, let them inspire courage to surrender yourself to God:
O’ Lord (I Will Stand My Ground Where Hope Can Be Found; Lauren Daigle)
Thy Will (Hillary Scott & The Scott Family)
My Savior My God (My Savior Loves, My Savior Lives; Aaron Shust)
Thank you for the recent Shares! If you have found this devotion helpful, please like and Share so others can hear the good news, too!
To start this series from the beginning, click this link: Elijah: Fully Surrendered.