Do you remember in the 90s there was a real craze of wrestling? I am sure you know who the ‘Undertaker’ was or ‘Hulk Hogan’. This craze did not pass my brothers by and, most days, wrestling would be on their agenda in some form. Sometimes they would play with their figures in a ‘wrestling ring’ made probably from a shoe box and some string, and sometimes they would get Dad involved and have a ‘Royal Rumble’ in the living room! On occasions I was known to partake in these rumbles and me and my two younger brothers would wrestle my Dad, while my mum and baby brother looked on. We knew that if we clenched our fist and rubbed it on the side of Dad’s neck he would squirm and if another were to tickle him at the same time he would submit! So we would pin him to the floor shouting “Submit?” And he would say “No way!” so one of us would try the clenched fist thing and eventually he would have to say “I submit!”
There was a time in my life, I am sorry to say, that these kind of occurrences happened most days. The only way we could get Dad to submit was for all three of us to work as a team against him, but he somehow managed to get all three of us to submit in one round. After that, very often, one of us would go off in a bit of a strop because we were made to submit when we didn’t want to and we were taken out of the game!
The term “I submit!” was familiar in our house growing up but it is only now that I recognise the importance of it. I am not talking about Royal Rumbles or the act of doing an elbow drop!! I am talking about the significance of being able to submit to God. God will not necessarily pin us to the floor and say “Submit?” but He is asking us to ‘give in’, to ‘yield’ our own will to Him. James 4:7 says, ‘Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil and He will flee from you.’
Do you ever feel like life is one big wrestling match, that just when you think you have fought one battle another one appears? We try to resist the devil in these times and stand up to him because we have authority over him, but still battles come. Joyce Meyer says that we have to look at this verse as a whole and understand that the first part says ‘submit to God’. If we say that the enemy is under our feet but we don’t fully submit to God, he (the devil) still has a way in. I think that means that if we are not willing to submit a particular aspect of our life to God, the devil will use that as a way in and he will bring destruction with him, but if we are able to say whatever you are asking of me Lord I will do it, we are able to walk in peace and then the devil does not know what to do with us, he will flee from us.
God knows who we are: better than we do. The Bible says that He will work all things for the good of those who love Him. We have to be able to trust that He will do that. We can say, “What if He doesn’t do what I want Him to? What if he doesn’t answer my prayer in my timing?” By human nature it is difficult for us to let go of our own will but with God it is safe. He knows what is best and it will always be something that is good, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. It can be uncomfortable but if we spend our lives always doing what we want to do we will very possibly carry with us a low level of pain all the time.
I once heard one of the pastors at my church, describe the book of James as “Exfoliation with a rasp!” Ouch! But we cannot ignore the truth in it. Chapter 4 verses 13-17 say this:
‘Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live or do this or that”. As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right things to do and fails to do it, commits sin.’
That is a challenging verse, but there it is, plain as day, if you know you are being disobedient to God you are sinning. If you know that the speed limit is 60 and you are doing 75 you commit a sin. If you know that you are allowed to park in a space for 1 hour and you leave it there all day you are committing a sin! If you know that God is asking you to give something up and your stubborn nature will not let you do it, you are committing a sin! Wow! I can be very stubborn. I find it very difficult to give in, my husband will tell you this, but I have to submit my stubborn ways to God and give Him full charge of my life.
When there is no known sin in our lives we can walk in peace. I said it earlier, but I will say it again, the devil does not know what to do with you if you have peace in your life and in order to keep that peace you have to let God rule. We loose peace when we try and do things our way. Colossians 3:15 says, ‘And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful’. The Message translation puts it like this ‘Let the peace of God keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.’
We are in a war, the only way to win is submit to God and keep hold of His peace. That is the thing that will keep us marching forward as His great army. We need to question our movements by asking ourselves if we feel the peace of God in the decision we have made. If we don’t we mustn’t do it. We mustn’t do life on our own, it doesn’t work if we just try to do it our way. We need to be so thankful every day that we serve a God that loves us so much that if we submit everything to Him, He will bring us good things, things beyond what our hopes were.
Sometimes we might need to ask ourselves the difficult question “What will happen to my faith if I don’t get what I want?” If you are asking yourself that question please do all you can to make your answer, “I will keep going. I will keep building the kingdom and the enemy will not get a foot hold in my life.” Smith Wigglesworth, in his sermon What Wilt Thou Have me to Do? Written in October 1914 says this “If God can have His way today, the ministry of somebody will begin; it always begins as soon as you yield.’’ If you don’t know where you place is submit everything to God and your ministry will begin.
If you are stuck in a rut and you need to let go of your own will, can you say “What will you have me do Lord?” Smith Wigglesworth tells the story of a Russian man who was very much used by God and amazing manifestations of the power of God were seen around him. People asked him what his secret was and he said,
“First God called me, and His presence was so precious, that I said to God at every call I would obey Him, and I yielded and yielded and yielded, until I realised that I was simply clothed with another power altogether, and I realised that God took me, tongue, thoughts, everything, and I was not myself but it was Christ working through me?”
I know the word ‘yielded’ seems like an old fashioned term but it carries so much meaning with it. To yield means to surrender, to give over, to relinquish. It also implies the idea of producing or profiting, like a farmer would yield a good crop. If we yield ourselves to the will of God, if we give everything over to Him we will profit from it because God is good and He can be trusted. I want God to work through me more than anything. It has not been easy to come to that conclusion because it can be very hard to give up something you really want but nevertheless, here I am, saying I will yield my will to His.
God did not get me in a headlock shouting “submit?!” If we want to see the advancement of the kingdom of God, if we want God to use us in a powerful way we have to be obedient to Him and we have to submit. In fact it is not actually that hard to assume that our creator, the one who knows us better than anyone else, might actually have a plan that exceeds our expectations. The choice is ours but the outcome will always, in the long term, be good and God is to be trusted. We can walk peacefully as Jesus did, knowing that He has the victory and the enemy is under our feet.