Our son Jakob has had a busy summer of learning. He’s accomplished a few things he was afraid to learn. He was afraid, because he’d been afraid of failure. In order to avoid failing, he would default to just avoiding some things. I explained to him why these things were important for him and why quitting just because something was hard wasn’t going to benefit him later in life. I told him that avoiding trying in order to avoid failure was still failing to accomplish the goal, so for each obstacle, he could choose to be a failure or a conqueror. Either way, I told him he had to obey and go out and try. He assured me he wanted to be a conqueror, and he was. He mastered biking, swimming, and hitting a baseball off a pitch (as opposed to off a tee).
For Jakob to master these things, he had to surrender to me. Because he naturally wants to avoid failure, he didn’t really want to go outside and try these things. I insisted, not for me, but for him. These are good things for him. They are fun, good sources of exercise, and great ways to play with friends in the neighborhood. I wanted what was best for him, even if he didn’t see it was best. He had to trust that I was telling the truth that it was the best thing for him. He had to trust that even if it hurt when he fell, it would be okay, that even if he failed at swimming, he wouldn’t drown, because I wouldn’t let him. He had to trust that I would be right there to pick him up, hug him, and make sure he was okay. And he had to stay focused on me. Whenever he got nervous that he was about to fail, he’d look at me, and I would give him instructions: pedal harder, keep pedaling, sit up straight, kick your feet harder, make sure your feet are behind you and splashing. And they worked! He stopped crashing, and he didn’t drown.
When we follow after God, we need the same three concepts if we’re going to conquer. We need to surrender to Him, Trust Him, and stay focused on Him. I’ve been reading Psalms lately in my devotion time, and David repeats these themes consistently. He surrenders his life to God, he trusts God’s direction for his life, and he keeps focused on God in times of trouble. Earlier this week, I read Psalm 25. It’s a Psalm written by David while he was in the midst of troubling times. He begins this way:
Psalm 25:1 (NLT)
O Lord , I give my life to you.
He was surrendered to God. His life was God’s life to do with as He pleased. He follows immediately in verse two saying that he put his full trust in God. Whatever God’s plan was for his life, he was going to trust it. So:
Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT)
“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.”
He wanted God to show him the right path to follow, because that path would be the right path. Sometimes the right path isn’t the path we would choose. Sometimes it isn’t the path that makes sense. But we must trust that God’s path is what is best for us and follow His instruction.
Psalm 25:15 (NLT)
“My eyes are always on the LORD, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.”
Regardless of what is going on, David was going to keep his eyes focused on God. There were enemies all around him. Failure and even death seemed imminently possible. He didn’t focus on that stuff. He didn’t focus on the pain or the struggle. He kept his eyes on God. Circumstances come and go, but the Lord is constant.
Whether you are in a struggle right now or not, as a Christian, you need to follow this plan. Surrender your life to God fully. Trust that His way for you is best, even when it doesn’t make sense. Keep your eyes on Him. This is how we conquer.