The "S" Word

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
— James 4:6b-7 (ESV)

Our dog Iggy is about 90 lbs and tall eough that we are often asked if he’s part horse. When he was a puppy, walking him was a fairly easy task as I could out muscle him if he tried to wander from our course.    

One morning, when he was full size and strength, I was attempting to run with him. I had an agenda for that day, a desired distance and pace, which was part of a training plan for an upcoming race. The only problem was, so did he.

He felt the need to pull in all directions for the entire duration of the run. I kept giving him strong tugs in an attempt to get him back on course but he was not having it. Everything he passed or smelled became the excitin pursuit of all 90lbs of him and by the end, I was exhausted.

When I got home I began filing a thorough complaint to my husband about his dog, his lack of listening, his distracting me from my goal, and endless frustration. The Holy Spirit chose that moment to tap me on the shoulder for teachable moment time for one of my favorite subjects: submission.

What feelings does the word “submit” conjure up for you? For me, they weren't warm and fuzzy ones.

For a long time I had the wrong idea about what submission was. I thought it meant putting away my personality, my ideas, and waiting like a ragdoll for those around me to decide my future. Though this idea did not come naturally to me, I knew it was necessary if it was God's directive. I had no idea what it looked like. and then God broke open the hardened soil of my mind with a dog.

It was like He was giving me a picture of myself when I continually insist on my own way. An otherwise enjoyable activity became stressful, frustrating and even potentially dangerous. That particular day, I thought God was only showing me how I had erred in the context of my marriage until I read this striking statement:

Submission to earthly authority is often an indicator of how we will submit to the Lord. 
— Priscilla Shirer, Seed

That was a hard one to swallow. I didn’t realize that my fighting the authority God had put in place meant I was fighting Him.

In Living Beyond Yourself, Beth Moore writes:

Do you sometimes ‘fight’ God? If you’re not comfortable admitting to an occasional wrestling match with God, do you fight with Him more covertly by demanding amendments or clauses to make his will more bearable? Do you ever lock your arms across your chest and pat your foot, waiting for Him to propose a solution you like better than the one He has already presented? As God pushes and prods you along, with a mind set on finishing that which He started, do you grab every doorknob, tree limb, or mailbox to keep from going His direction? Or at least His speed? Does He have to fight you practically every step of the way in your maturing process?

The first time I read those words, I shuddered, knowing full well the answer was yes to all or most of those questions. 

The enemy will work hard to convince us that submitting means losing yet the Word is clear: Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. The truth is, by choosing to yield to God, you are cooperating with the winning side.  

God has chosen your circumstances for you. He’s chosen all the people who are in your life. Why? His ultimate goal is to mold and shape you into the likeness of His Son. 

Ask Him today to reveal the things in your heart that are causing you to resist submitting to Him. It could be fear, anger, doubt, guilt, the unknown or perhaps something different. But He knows. He’s ready and waiting with the solution to whatever it is.

Thank Him that He is not a God of chaos but of order and in Him all things hold together. Confess to Him how you are resisting submitting to Him. Repenting from your own way and acknowledging that you want to do it His way. Ask Him to show you the first step. 

This excerpt was taken from Journey Through James: A Roadmap for Trials. CLICK HERE to learn more.