Web Exclusive

Submit! Really?

Major Anita Caldwell explores what it means to truly submit to God and reminds readers that it is a daily choice. by Major Anita Caldwell

Growing up on a farm taught me many life lessons. We enjoyed farm life with horses, ponies, chickens, milk cows and ducks. Four of my favorite animals were Smokey, Ginger, Jack and Gypsy.

Smokey had the best grain, fresh water, fresh hay and green pastures. He greeted us with a quiet low neigh of happiness. He was never left in the sun for long and was always sprayed carefully so the big flies would not bite him. From every outward sign, he loved us as much as we loved him. He had no problem being saddled or bridled for a ride and enjoyed taking you for a gallop in our wide-open pasture. However, he had one flaw. While it appeared he was submissive, he would suddenly drop and roll with you and the saddle to get you off his back.

How often do we appear to submit to God when in our hearts we secretly refuse submission? We want our way, our thoughts, our desires. We tell God that we are willing to do whatever He wants, except this one thing. The Holy Spirit calls us to submit where He sees it is needed and if we do, we will find peace for the journey of life. However, we seem to think our way is the best way and so we argue and disagree with His call to us. If we would just submit immediately, our peace would keep us strong. When we don’t submit, like Smokey who thought he would be free, we lose a lesson He has called us to learn.

Ginger, our pinto pony, also received the best of care and love. She appeared to yield to the saddle and bridle without hesitation. Off we would go like the wind, enjoying the beauty of the day. Ginger also had a special flaw. She would often stop at a full gallop with every hope that you would slide over her head, and she would be free of you. While she seemed submissive, she wanted freedom from the rider and planned carefully for just the right moment to be free.

How often is this the picture of us in a situation we don’t like? Let one person correct us and we get angry and push back. We demand a safe place; we refuse open hearts. We want nothing more than to get that person “off our back,” much like Ginger. One crucial aspect of holiness and holy living is holy submission. 

Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” As Christians, we refuse to submit to each other. We demand our way; we demand that we be heard. Where is God’s voice? Will we tighten our fist and refuse to submit to what He wants to teach us? Or will we accept the fact that people are placed in our lives to help us become more like Christ?

Then there was Jack. He was our donkey with black markings on his back. Tradition says that these donkeys with a cross are of the line of donkeys that carried Jesus into Jerusalem. Jack made no pretense of submitting. We knew that when he decided to stop walking, it was over. You might as well wait for him to take the next step and that next step could take a long time.

How many of us adopt the same stance? Take me or leave me, I have our rights. This is just who I am.”   We expect people to understand that we don’t simply submit with ease. We dig in our heels and refuse to surrender. Coupled with our refusal to submit, we refuse kind encouragement to surrender and dig our heels in even more. If we would just learn to lay down our personal preferences and quickly submit to the voice of God in our lives, we would save our hearts from so much hurt and anger. The Holy Spirit is always seeking ways to bring us closer to Himself. He will not force Himself into our lives, but He will offer us many opportunities if we stretch our ears to hear His voice.

God calls us to submit. The sooner we realize that God allows people, transitions and disagreements in our lives for a purpose, the sooner we will submit to His purpose.  We have an opportunity to trust and obey the Holy Spirit when He encourages us to submit to what God has asked us to do.  

How can we learn to submit? 

First, if we know God has asked us to submit, we should seek this gift. If it is challenging to submit, we may seek the Holy Spirit for His help to submit. There may be one thing that we consider as our right to keep but He will convict. He will zero in on that one thing and ask us to yield to him.  We yield and discover the enjoyment of submission more than our right.

Once we give Him our all, we learn to submit, moment by moment and day by day. Submitting to God is not a one-time event but a daily choice. The Holy Spirit will kindly remind us if we begin to clench our fist and hold on to something we refuse to yield. Once we let go, we will find the joy of submission to our Savior.                    

Let me introduce you to Gypsy.  She was a chestnut mare and loved to take me up into the mountains.  She was always patient and always kind. She never had a back-up plan to knock me off, dig her heels into the dirt refusing to move or stop on a dime hoping I would slip over her head. She enjoyed the journey, and I felt her determination to be happy.

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Will you also choose submission?  Will you choose it quickly? If you listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, He will guide you. If you will submit, and be determined to be happy in Christ, nothing will destroy that peace. May it be so!

ALL Articles