Writing from her own unique standpoint,
this is how Robbie Davis-Floyd concludes her article:
as even obstetricians cannot explain the mystery of
birth (they still don’t know what initiates labour),
I can’t explain the mystery of this
death/near-death/rebirthing process that is still
taking place in me . . . I can give you no facile
explanations or easy answers, only perhaps the sense
that in fact, everything is as it should be.
Certainly it is as it must be. As with labour, we
can either surrender to the truth of death, or fight
it till the effort kills us.
When I gave birth to my son at home, I learned the
power of surrender to the tremendous force of life.
Now I am learning the power of surrender to the
tremendous reality of death.
May these two kinds of surrender balance and sustain
me, teach me to let go of my fight to understand,
and embrace the paradoxes my life encompasses. Like
a mother who has just had the courage to give birth
without knowing who her child will become, I am
here, not knowing who I will become, but open,
cracked wide open, to whatever life may bring.
I subtitled this book,
Experiencing spiritual growth through loss because the
Scriptures have much to say along these paradoxical lines.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul teaches that:
What we sow does not come to life unless it dies (1
This verse points us to a remarkable
truth that usually lies hidden from our eyes until something happens
to bring it to the fore. Somewhere in the course of our pilgrimage,
the Lord brings us to the point where the seeds we sow, the visions
we pursue, and even the promises He gives us must fall into the
ground and die before they can reproduce exponentially.
Just as Jesus entrusted Himself to
death on a cross, so Paul, when he “enlisted” in the service of the
risen Christ, was obliged to lay down his hard-won reputation as a
scholar and a leading Pharisee – and with it, all forms of earthly
At the heart of God’s finest works
and ministries lie occasions (usually out of the public eye) where
men and women of God reach the end of themselves, and are obliged to
hand their most cherished hopes and dreams back to the King of
Kings. This may sound radical, but can you imagine anything worse
than having bits of your life that are “yours” rather than “His?”
Catherine Marshall writes powerfully
about what she calls the “prayer of relinquishment” in Something
More. She testifies that yielding is the “golden key” that
enables God’s purposes to prosper without any of the glory
“sticking” to the group or individual concerned.23
The Lord is so gracious that even
when He takes something precious from us, He finds ways to bless the
outcome as much as if we had handed it back to Him of our own free
will! It was certainly like that for us in the way in which the Lord
developed a new and broader-based team in time for the 1987 Message
For Our Times Conference in Malvern, which did so much to launch our
It is an awesome moment when the Lord
fans smouldering coals back into life again. It was here that we
joined forces with a wide range of exceptionally gifted musicians,
pastors and teachers.
As surely as there is blessing when
we yield to the Lord’s will, there is nothing but grief and
frustration when we run away from it. Think of the desperate plight
the Israelites found themselves in when the Lord told them that He
had finally had enough of their prevaricating, and was no longer
prepared to go up with them to the Promised Land. With the notable
exceptions of Joshua and Caleb, the whole of that generation
perished in the wildernesses.
Faced with such a dire sentence, the
people immediately put it to the test, much as we might check the
strength of a door we suddenly found ourselves confined behind.
Hurling themselves against their enemy, they were soundly defeated,
and left with no choice but to accept the terrible consequences that
come when we push the Lord too far.24
Some of us hang on too tightly, as
though everything depended on us. Yet all the time He is wooing our
hearts to let go of all that tethers us, and to venture further out
on the sea of trust – even when He leads us into waters we would not
have chosen to sail in.
tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls
to the ground and dies, it remains only a single
seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The
man who loves his life will lose it, while the man
who hates his life in this world will keep it for
eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and
where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will
honour the one who serves Me.
There is one exception to
this. Jesus speaks in John 10 about the devil coming as a
thief, a murderer and a destroyer. Like a skilled
pick-pocket, the enemy is forever trying to steal things
from us. He achieves most when his work goes undetected.
Not content with taking what is
rightfully ours, the powers of darkness aim to dispirit us to the
point where we “give up” on the rest. (This is the actual meaning of
the word “murder” here). Subtly, they may even try to make this
destructive temptation sound like “holy yielding.”
Let us be under no illusion: if the
Lord is not asking for something back, giving it up might be
part of the devil’s strategy for our life – in which case we need to
respond with with resilience rather than surrender. God can send the
grace we need, despite the darkness and the opposition.