“What was I thinking?” I asked myself. I don’t like talking to strangers, yet I’m on my way to walk into the hospital room of someone I don’t know and pray for them. “Maybe I shouldn’t do this. I can’t be the right person for this job. Give me the words, Lord. Open my heart to listen and show Your care.”
God answered my prayer that day. And every time I surrender my natural inclination to avoid strangers and instead offer them the love of Christ. No need to make conversation, just a willingness to listen and offer compassion.
It never gets easier for me. Each and every time I walk into a hospital room, I spend time pleading with God to help me. Acknowledging my need for Him. In surrendered worship, I praise Him for who He is and I plead for His Spirit to intercede and minister despite me.
He never lets me down.
Jonah’s Journey to Surrendered Worship
Jonah didn’t like the assignment he received from God. In brazen defiance, he didn’t just ignore God; he ran as far as he could to avoid obeying God’s call. God pursued Jonah, getting his attention first with a violent storm that forced Jonah to admit he was the one putting the lives of the sailors on board his escape ship in danger. With no other option, the sailors threw Jonah overboard. Then God sent a fish who swallowed Jonah.
As Jonah lay trapped in the belly of the fish for three days and nights, did he wonder, “What was I thinking? Why did I run from God? Ignore His call?”
Death was imminent; even if he managed to escape from the dark, dank, prison, he’d be alone in the middle of the ocean. Instead of cursing God, complaining about the unfairness of his treatment, Jonah ran back into the arms of God and offered surrendered worship.
Despite his sin, Jonah knew God listened.
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said, ‘In my distress I called to the Lord and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. (Jonah 2:1-2, emphasis mine).
Surrendered Worship Begins with Confession and Acknowledging God’s Sovereignty
Jonah acknowledged he was in a prison of his own making. Even in the midst of his punishment, he showed his trust in God’s ability to forgive and restore their broken relationship.
You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas and the currents swirled about me; all your wave and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ (Jonah 2:3-4, emphasis mine).
Jonah says “I ran away. Now, trapped in the dark, beyond where any human can find me, I know I will see You again, God. I will worship in Your temple, in Your presence. I don’t know how, but I trust You as God to restore our relationship.”
Surrendered Worship Shows Faith in God
Even stuck in an impossible situation, Jonah believes God will rescue him.
The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roars of the mountains, I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you in your holy temple. ( Jonah 2:5-7, emphasis mine).
Surrendered Worship Offers Thanksgiving
Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. (Jonah 2:8-9, emphasis mine).
A song of thanksgiving. Even in the middle of horrendous circumstances. Banished by God. Covered with seaweed. Complete darkness. Smelling like rotten fish. Jonah offers thanksgiving. Not for where he is or what is happening to him, but for God’s mercy.
Surrendered Worship Repents
What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord. (Jonah 2:9, emphasis mine).
And finally, Jonah promises he will keep the vow he made as a prophet. He will deliver whatever message God gives him. No more running away. Salvation isn’t up to Jonah; it is a gift from God.
God Responds to Surrendered Worship
And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (Jonah 2:10).
God rescued Jonah, gave him a second chance. Jonah received salvation from his own sin. Now he goes to Nineveh to offer the same opportunity to surrender to God.
Whether you’re facing a circumstance where you feel alone and abandoned or a call from God that seems impossible, God always responds to our surrendered worship. He pursues us, listens to our heartfelt pleas for help, and rescues us. His love and mercy equip us for whatever He calls us to do.
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