I had gone back and forth about coming, but somehow found myself driving the crowded van toward Jacksonville. We were running late, so most of the crowd was already in the stadium as we wound our way up the ramps to the upper deck.
Finally, we found our gate and walked out into the lights, and my life changed.
I had been in dozens of football stadiums before, but none like this. It was my first Promise Keepers event, and the panorama of 60,000 men gathered in spiritual celebration and anticipation was awe-inspiring. I smiled, not quite knowing why, and found my seat.
The Paradox of How God Works
As the images from 20 years ago stream back to me now, I am struck by the miraculous paradox that was that night. It was a vision of heaven on earth: God’s people united in joyous worship, yet swapping sports stories and jokes. Some of the memories seem contradictory, but they aren’t:
It took years for a moment to happen – As I observed the spectacle, past milestones of my life came to mind, each a stepping stone leading to this place and time. What was happening was supposed to happen, and had been in motion for decades, yet it was totally in that moment.
It was bigger than all of us, yet part of me – We have a big God and, occasionally, we get glimpses of that majesty. What was happening that night was happening to me, but it was much bigger than that. It wasn’t about me, yet it was the most personal thing I had ever experienced.
We change the future by letting go – Surrender is setting aside our obsession with control and taking a step of faith. And, it seems, surrender is often a necessary step toward blessings God has for us. That night, letting go and accepting God’s invitation became the best choice I ever made.
The Paradox of Surrender
Surrendering to God seemed hard for me to do, yet somehow easy. It was hard because I had been holding onto self with incredible tenacity for years. I was pretty sure I could plan, or figure out, or manage, or fix anything life had to offer. Giving up that comfortable perception of control, as naïve and delusional as it seems in retrospect, was difficult.
But, during the previous years, God had been inviting me to join him. That night in the stadium, it was as if I was leaning over the threshold of a wonderful party. Stepping in was less an act of will than a letting go. It had become more effort to not surrender—to continue to refuse God’s invitation— than it was to let myself take that step.
I experienced the paradox of surrender that night: it was both hard and easy, scary but reassuring, risky yet safe, and disturbing but also calming.
Once I let go, everything became clear, and I knew it was right. Not only did I see the milestones that had led to that moment, I could better perceive now and even envision the future.
Letting go released burdens I had been carrying all my life. Ultimately, for me, surrender was easy.
Question: What has God been inviting you to surrender?
Action: Think of a burden of control, or fear, or unbelief, you should release.