July 1, 2013

Give Up to God

When our church was in the process of creating a new website, I was assigned a blank page and asked to populate it. After successfully installing a main menu and sub-menus, the next step was to fill the sub-menus with items. I went to the hidden page where the set-up takes place and followed the instructions in the program manual for creating one item. It was a lengthy process that involved uploading images, linking to outside websites, importing data, and selecting from many options on nine different screens. After repeating the process about twenty times, I returned to the web page and opened the sub-menus to view the results: nothing was there.

This began hours and hours of troubleshooting, during which I discovered that the software company had sent the wrong version of the manual. I replaced it, and started over; found a list of program bugs on the software company website, made a plan for working around them, and started over; meticulously retraced my entries with the help of one after another online support forums; and tested numerous combinations of options.

After several days, I had tried everything I could think of to fix the problem and was out of ideas. I realized that even if given an unlimited amount of time, I would never be able to figure out why my entries were not appearing. At that point, there was only one thing to do . . . give up and give it to God.

Leaving my desk, I went downstairs to our office chapel and prayed, “Lord, this problem is beyond me. Please don’t even show me how to fix it. Please just make the program work.” Then I went back to my computer and opened the sub-menus, and there were all my entries.

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you have been troubleshooting for days, weeks, even years and have not found the answer? Perhaps, like me, you have been trying to solve a problem at work and are getting nowhere. Maybe you have been seeking a deeper experience and have not been able to pray through. Or, you could be struggling to gain the victory over an ongoing illness. You need to stop troubleshooting and give up. When our options end, God’s begin.

God has the answer to every difficulty we will face in life whether big or small, spiritual or physical, but He cannot help us until we give the problem to Him. If we are still trying to work out our own solutions, then we are still holding onto some control and have not placed the matter entirely in His hands. Holding on can take several forms, including trying to solve the problem in our own strength (as I was doing), wanting it solved our own way, and even presuming that it is God’s will that the problem be solved.

Sometimes we think we are looking to God when really we are relying on ourselves. We will not receive an answer until we give up.

Once I prayed with a woman who was seeking salvation. It was clear that she was in earnest, yet she was not getting through. I asked her to pray out loud so I could help her. She prayed a beautiful prayer of repentance, but then added, “And from now on, I will try to be good.” I stopped her and said, “You can’t be good. If you could be good, you wouldn’t need Jesus.” She broke down and said, “That’s right; I can’t do it. I need Jesus.” Right then she gained the victory. When she realized that living a life pleasing to God was beyond her capabilities, she was able to give up and give that burden to God. Then she saw what God was capable of doing for her.

When I was seeking the baptism of the Holy Ghost, I kept looking for a formula to receive that experience, thinking that if there were steps that led to salvation and sanctification, there would be steps leading to the baptism. Many people relate that they received the Holy Ghost while praising God, so that is the formula I tried first. For weeks, I only prayed praises. God did not baptize me, though, so I crossed that off the list of possibilities and moved on to something else.

Someone told me that doubt would hinder, so I prayed for hours without doubting and then crossed that off the list, too. Another testified that God honored her determination to remain at the altar until baptized. That night I stayed at the altar until three in the morning.

After nine years, I had crossed a lot of things off my list—reading and praying more, sitting in the front row, praying out loud—and still had not found the formula. Then one evening, I ran out of options. On the way to the altar I just gave up and prayed, “Lord, I am completely out of ideas.” I told God, “There is nothing I can do, but if You want to do something, I will not hinder Your Spirit.” That night God baptized me with the Holy Ghost.

Sometimes we can be so sure of how God will work that we miss the answer when it comes, and end up in a continuous troubleshooting loop. We can avoid this if we will simply give up control by presenting the problem to God without a solution in mind.

Naaman was someone who almost missed the answer. Though he was the “captain of the host of the king of Syria,” and a “mighty man in valour,” he faced a problem that was beyond him: “he was a leper” (2 Kings 5:1). He heard about the prophet in Israel, Elisha, and went to him for healing. However, he did not fully give the problem to God; he kept an idea in mind of the best way for him to receive the answer. When events began to unfold differently, he did not realize God was in it. Instead, he became “wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought . . .” (verse 11). He almost missed the answer, but his servants persuaded him to abandon the option he had in mind. And he was healed!

Once when I became overwhelmed with school, work, church, and family responsibilities, I almost missed an answer. For a while, I tried on my own to juggle my schedule, but when my health became compromised by stress, I remembered to turn to God. The first instruction He gave me was to erase the two-foot by three-foot whiteboard that held my thirty-day schedule. I was positive that could not be the answer so refused by saying, “That will just make the situation worse! I will have to keep all those appointments in my head.” God’s way proved best, though. When I gave in, He step-by-step taught me the life skill of prioritizing and managing my time.

It is not always God’s will that a problem be solved, but if we will accept that possibility, we will receive an answer one way or the other.

For many years, my job environment was difficult. At first, I tried to remedy the situation myself—by volunteering for committees and special projects in other departments, changing my hours, taking strategic time off, and eventually, by looking for another job. I began praying daily for God to rescue me. When He did not, I asked, “Lord, why aren’t You helping me?” He helped me understand that I needed to hand the situation over to Him, but I did not know exactly how.

Then one morning I was sitting in my car outside the office not wanting to go in. I was at the end of my rope and could not think of any way to make the job situation better. So I prayed, “Lord, I give up. I give up trying to find a solution myself, and I give up on asking You to find one. If this is Your plan for my life and this is how You want me to spend the rest of my working days, I will do it.” That very day, I received the phone call that led to my working at the church office—a wonderful work environment.

If you have been facing a problem for some time and find yourself asking, “What more can I do?” the answer may be nothing. Go to God with no plan, no solution. Let go, and allow God to work!

apostolic faith magazine