I witnessed a beautiful surrender one afternoon while waiting for the bus to come up the road. In the center of our front yard stands a large October Glory maple tree. This tree is the last to change colors every fall, but once the leaves do change color, the tree is the brightest and most beautiful fall tree on our street.
As I waited for the bus, I watched the beautiful surrender of one of those tiny orange leaves. The wind came and that little leaf could not hold on any longer. The wind carried the leaf off the branch and gently swirled the leaf to the ground. The leaf did what it was made to do—and the tree would continue to survive even after the surrendering of this leaf. The October Glory will be dormant for a season, but soon it would bear new blossoms and leaves in the spring.
Sometimes on this side of heaven, faithful people face seasons of beautiful surrenders. In the surrendering, God grows His people into maturity. My family faced a season such as this last year. I am a PCA pastor’s wife and a mother to four elementary-aged children. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty-three and passed away when she was forty. I was thirty-five at the time and I knew I carried a gene mutation which increased my risk for breast cancer. My doctors and genetic counselors strongly advised me to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy.
This was an emotionally and physically painful—but beautiful surrender of my physical body. It brought me back to the woundedness of my past and tugged on the heart strings of my story. But in the surrender of my physical self, God was faithful to our family and as we only had Him to cling to—He grew all of us in our faith and trust in Him.
A Beautiful Surrender to an Eternal Perspective
This life is an entire journey of letting go. Just like the October Glory in my front yard, we are always shedding pieces of the old self as we grow into Christlikeness. If we know eternal hope in Jesus, we know the ultimate hope of a resurrected body. On this side of heaven, little by little, we are letting go of our earthly selves and our earthly desires, but we do not let go nor do we grieve without hope. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). As we surrender, God prepares us for glory! The physical self and circumstances are transient; the things we cannot see but hope for are eternal. In the beautiful surrenders, God transforms us into the likeness of His Son.
A Beautiful Surrender to Covenant Community
It is beautiful to surrender to covenant community. Surrendering to needing others is not the way I am hard wired. I am a woman who in the old self would rather just pull up my bootstraps and hold everything together on my own. During my double mastectomy season, my husband also tore a ligament in his foot. God gave us a season where I couldn’t use my arms and he couldn’t use his legs. With four children all under the age of ten, we could not sustain a household in our own strength.
As I surrendered my pride, God taught me the significance of why faith in a covenant keeping God is not an invitation to individualism; God is a relational and covenant keeping God that invites us into a people on purpose. “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God” (Exodus 6:7). Leaning into covenant relationships is for our good and His glory. God uses His people to reflect tangible evidence of His love on earth.
Surrendering my pride and speaking the words “I need help” was a much more difficult surrender than the physical surrender required by my surgery. But as I surrendered my pride and accepted the gifts and graces of others, God transformed my understanding of the importance of covenant community. In the church, we truly need to reflect His love to one another. As we beautifully surrender our pride and lean into covenant relationships, God knits our hearts together with His people.
As believers, our lives are a mosaic of beautiful surrenders as we grow and are transformed into the likeness of Christ. In seasons, transformation and change can leave us feeling as dormant and bare as a maple tree in the wintertime. It is painful to let go but letting go is also necessary and good. The power belongs to God, not to us. As we surrender, Jesus is manifested in the hearts of those who believe and Jesus will shine in and through a mosaic of beautiful surrenders, for in Christ, God makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).
About the Author:
Rachel Craddock is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and a first-grade teacher at heart. She currently leads the Women’s Servant Team at North Cincinnati Community Church and serves on the Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM) National Women’s Ministry team as a Regional Advisor. She is the author of Slowly Unraveled (CDM, January 2019) and a contributor to Hinged: Vitally Connected to Christ and His Church (CDM, January 2020). Rachel enjoys speaking at women’s retreats—her heart is to teach women how the gospel is relevant in everyday life. Rachel is married to Michael and together they have four fun children: Ezra, Asher, Caleb, and Lydia Jane. She and her family are members of North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason, Ohio where her husband is the lead pastor. You can connect with Rachel her blog, rachelcraddock.com.