Have you ever considered the incredible patience of God? When I look back on my own journey, I see a person who did everything she could not to surrender her will to a loving Father who wanted nothing less than to welcome her into relationship. When I think of the many years I spent digging in my heels or attempting to please God through my works, I am overwhelmed by the grace He showed me. He continued to gently pursue me with arms opened wide.
Several years ago, I had an experience that I have mostly kept to myself. Up until now, I have told my husband and maybe two close friends. It was an experience that changed me forever. At first glance, it seems to be the story of a mom and her obstinate toddler, but it is actually an allegory of our Father God’s amazing love and patience for His children.
My youngest child was a toddler at the time and still nursing. Cozette (or Cozy, as we like to call her) was able to communicate with words and signing, so she usually signed “please” when she wanted to nurse. Yet for some reason on this particular day, she decided she would bypass the asking part and just try to nurse.
I gently took her hand away and told her, “Say please.” Cozy refused. This was not typical of her, so I continued to explain to her that all she needs to do is ask politely. Still she refused. At this moment, I heard God tell me, “Her ‘please’ will be her surrender.”
God had already been in the process of teaching me about surrender. He had been rocking me to my core, showing me what a heart in full surrender looks like. My own journey took me on a path that left me weak and broken, with nothing left to cling to but God. It makes sense that He would give me another illustration to drive home His point.
After Cozy began digging in her heels, I took her to my bedroom and told my husband that we may be awhile. When I did that, God let me know how long this process would take, which I am truly grateful for. Without knowing how long it would take, I probably would have threw in the towel early.
God filled me with supernatural grace for Cozy. And even as she fought the process, God filled me with a heart of love for her—His love. I never once got angry with her. I never once punished her. All I wanted was to take her in my arms and comfort her. And this is exactly what God wants with us. He just wants to embrace us and love us. God spoke to me again: “How you feel towards your daughter is how I feel toward you and all my people.”
I continued with Cozy with my arms open wide, repeating, “Just say ‘please’.” I only wanted to scoop her up and bless her with what she desired. I wanted to pour out all my blessings as a loving mom would do for her child. And so it is with God.
God desires to bless His children, but He is waiting for our hearts to surrender and turn to Him. He knows that pouring out blessing before He has prepared our hearts would utterly destroy us. He has already done the work required to bridge the gap in our relationship. Now it is our chance to respond to His love in full surrender.
Looking back, I am so unbelievably humbled that God would allow me a glimpse into His heart. Even as I write this, my eyes are filling with tears. I can’t fully explain the magnitude of this experience for me. It’s something that can’t fully be explained in mere words.
Throughout this time, God revealed to me five ways in which we refuse to surrender our hearts to God. Cozy went through each of these stages as God was revealing to me His patience and longing for His people.
We reject God.
When Cozy wasn’t getting what she wanted from me, she rejected me—her mom, the person who loves her the most!
We do this with God when we don’t truly trust Him. He doesn’t answer a prayer how we would like Him to. He doesn’t act in the way we think He should. We wonder why He’s left us alone. So we get angry and resentful. This anger then causes us to discontinue pursuing God. In reality, we just don’t understand what He understands. We don’t have the bigger picture. All we know is that we want something and God is not giving it to us, so we turn our backs on Him.
We do not believe that God is truly good, that He loves us more than anyone could and He only has good things for us. When we fail to believe this foundational truth, God will always be held at arm’s length.
If this is you, God is reaching for you with arms wide open and eyes of love. He desires to embrace you. He’s saying, “You can trust Me. I love you. Just come to Me.”
We try to appease God.
At one point, Cozy began digging things out of my closet that belonged me and putting them in my lap. I could see that her actions were an attempt to appease me so she could get what she wanted. She seemed to be in a good mood as she did this, until she realized that her gifts would not bring the blessing that she craved.
We do this to God when put our actions before our surrender. This is called legalism. The Pharisees were guilty of this. They lacked an authentic relationship with God and were merely trying to obey the law.
Isaiah 29:13 says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”
Anything we do for God is meaningless if we have not surrendered our hearts to Him. If we look at the scripture above, we see that it is possible to look good and holy and still be far from God. These people actually honored God through their words, but their hearts were far from Him. That would be similar to a husband buying flowers for his wife and telling everyone how amazing she is, but when he gets home and sees her, there is no warmth, no intimacy, and no love.
If this is you, let go of your works. Stop trying to earn God’s favor through what you do. Take your Sabbath and rest. Realize that you are worthy and valuable before you ever do a thing. You were loved before the beginning of time. God is saying, “Stop your striving. Come to me, just as you are.”
We distract ourselves.
For a while, Cozy began distracting herself with her blankie and her baby doll. What she wanted and needed was me, but because she was unwilling to surrender, she tried to comfort herself and find satisfaction with something else.
We do this when we fill our God-shaped void in our life with anything other than God. This is called idolatry. Who or what do you turn to when you are lonely, afraid, overwhelmed, angry, sad, anxious, or depressed? Do you turn to a certain person? How about food? I always know something’s wrong with me if I suddenly want to gorge on sugar-filled goodies. Busyness is another popular idol that can be very alluring. We use busyness to escape hard emotions that we want to avoid bringing to God. Other idols can include money, shopping, ministry (what!?), sex, a hobby, TV, internet/social media, and anything else we can think of.
If this is you, you may have never experienced the peace and security that comes when we rest in God and turn to Him with our needs. None of these other things will satisfy you. You will always be left wanting more. God is saying, “Come to me. I alone am able to satisfy you.”
We ignore God.
Cozy also tried ignoring me. She pretended it was no big deal that she wasn’t getting what she wanted, as if she could live without me.
We do this through prayerlessness. Perhaps we want to punish God through ignoring Him because He didn’t give us what we wanted. We don’t believe that God really loves us, so we withhold from Him. Similar to rejecting God, it’s rooted in our unbelief that God is good. Because we don’t believe that He has good in store for us, we find prayer meaningless and unbeneficial.
If this is you, have the courage to begin dialogue with God. He’s not afraid of your questions. He would rather you come to Him in anger than you ignore Him entirely. He wants to train you and teach you His ways. He wants to reveal His heart to you and connect in deeper ways. God is saying, “I’m still here. I will wait for you as long as it takes.”
We attempt to control God.
Cozy even tried to control me at one point. She began lying in my lap and pulling my shirt up so that she could try to nurse. She attempted to get what she wanted through force.
We do this when we put God in a box. Instead of surrendering to His ways and trusting Him, we esteem our wants and needs before our relationship with Him. In a way, we think we can use God to get what we really want. Some even believe that we just have to do x, y, and z and viola! He’ll grant our wishes like a magic genie.
If this is you, God wants to reveal to you His goodness. He is your good Father whom you can trust. When you don’t get what you want, you can rest in the fact that He knows best. He knows your heart, your circumstances, and the future. He knows exactly what you need. God is saying, “You can trust my goodness. You can trust my timing.”
Finally, Cozy surrendered. She put her little hand on her chest and signed “please” as if we hadn’t just gone through the craziest ordeal of my life. At that point, I realized it ended precisely when God had told me it would. It was like magic. She surrendered to my love, and I took her in my arms and embraced her.
This was such an overwhelmingly emotional experience for me and I was glad that it was over, but I am so thankful for the things that God revealed to me. To know that I, too, was once that little toddler, fighting God because I wasn’t getting my way. I spent so much time resisting Him and trying to do things my way, when all the while I was resisting His love and His blessing. My good Father just patiently waited for me with open arms, saying, “Just surrender, my child.”
I appreciate your feedback! Which parts of this allegory can you relate with? Do you have any other thoughts? Please comment below!
“My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers
“God is Good” by Bill Johnson