Paul Azinger had for several years been a successful golfer in the Professional Golfers Association. Then after he won the 1993 PGA Championship he was diagnosed with cancer – Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. (Perhaps the ground’s keepers had been spraying too much Round-up in and around the golf-course.) Since then, for 16 years he has been trying to balance himself between treatments and the work he plays. He says that people often ask him if golf is as important now as it was before he discovered his cancer. He says. “Golf is still important, but whereas it was once his god, Jehovah is now his God.” Golf is now fourth on his list of priorities which begins with the Lord then goes to family and then friends. Zinger says that since he began his treatments he has played some pretty good golf. For example, he was named as the captain of the 2008 Rider’s Cup Team. During that tournament, when he missed a 4 foot putt, his reaction was different from before. He didn’t pull his hair out as if that miss was the end of the world. Neither did he say, “Woe is me; I missed that putt, but at least I’m still alive despite my cancer.” By the way, when his team won the 1993 Rider’s Cup, and they were invited to a reception at the White House, Azinger declined, saying that the didn’t want the accolades of such an immoral president. Today, he still plays every game with a desire to win, but he acknowledges the sovereignty of God and in so doing he considers himself to always be a winner.
That assessment is a good one: To permit God to be God, and to remind ourselves that we are dependent upon His grace, makes us winners. And we might call that attitude “submission.”
Following on the heels of saving faith, one of the most important things that Christians can do is submit themselves to the Lord. I read the other day that the word “Saviour” occurs only 24 times in the New Testament, while the word “Lord” is found 433 times. Can a professed Christian refuse Christ’s Lordship and still receive His Savourhood? When a husband and wife totally yield themselves to Christ there is genuine hope for that marriage. When they don’t there will be conflict – fighting for supremacy. When the Christian submits his wallet to God, he finds financial security. When a person yields himself to the Lord, he can have confidence that his choices will be wise ones.
One of the best illustrations of submission in the Word of God is found in our text. David’s new-born baby was very sick. Home remedies didn’t work, nor could the physicians help, nor did the Lord through prayer. David sought earnestly that the child’s life might be spared; he wept, fasted, and pled with the Lord. But it was to no avail, and the baby died, reminding the king of Isreal that sin is not without consequence – even royal sin.
This is a good illustration of submission because it begins in the absence of submission. David had brought shame to the throne of Israel, to the Lord, and to himself. He had stolen the child’s mother and killed her husband. He demanded that his own flesh be gratified no matter what the cost was to himself or others. The prophet Nathan then pronounced the upcoming death of the child as punishment for David’s sin. Another human being lost his life because of David’s sin. And when the baby died, the king’s servants were afraid to tell their master about it. They knew how he had mourned and wept as the child lay sick in his mother’s arms. Finally, when David asked if the baby was alive or dead, those servants had to answer honestly. Then he arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and went to worship the Lord.
Why David? “And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” David’s response to the hand of God shows us the nature of submission.
Submission is a necessary part of the discipline of the Christian.
Submission is a recognition of the authority and supremacy of Jehovah – an acknowledgment. Remember, every Christian is the property of the Almighty. We have been bought with a price, purchased with the shed blood of the Saviour. We have been clothed in His righteousness, and shod with the preparation of His gospel. We have been comforted with His hand; fed with His food, and warmed by His fire. We belong to God by the right of creation, and by redemption and by preservation. But then sin comes along – rooted in our own wicked self and rejecting God’s authority over us. Lucifer said, “I will ascend into Heaven and exalt my throne above the stars of God.” Adam said, “I don’t care for God’s plan of abstinence, I want my will to be done.” And our sin has the same root: “God, you can’t tell me what to do and not to do.” Salvation is, at the very least, a recognition that God does have some authority. He has authority to cast me into Hell – or to raise my body from the grave – or to save my soul.
Now, in some ways, God’s authority is invincible and inevitable, like some of His laws of nature. Most objects released at the top of the hill, roll down that hill; they do not rise into the air. Some things are God’s, and that is all there is to it. But by the permission of the Lord many things in our lives can be submitted to Him or kept to ourselves – at least so we think. That salary which you receive can either be hoarded for yourself or surrendered to God. Sunday evening may be spent dedicated to the god of football or dedicated to Jehovah. I’ve known parents who refused to acknowledge that their sons might have been called by God to be missionaries.
Here are two obvious illustrations, but there are a hundred not so obvious. There was a farmer who had some wonderfully fertile bottom-land, where he grew a nice crop. But right in the middle of that field was a huge rock pointing like a finger toward heaven. Around it were a number of smaller stones, and as a result the farmer had to plow around them. For five years he worked that land planting around those stones. They caused him some delays and some expense, because he had some good land unused. He fussed and fumed about that funny looking rock for half a decade. Then one day he decided that he had enough. He tied a rope to the top and attached it to his tractor. Slowly he stepped on the accelerator, and to h is amazement the stone began to move and fall. When it hit the ground, it instantly it broke into a 1000 pieces – all small enough to be carried away. The very first time he faced his trouble and put it into the Lord’s hands, the farmer’s stone ceased to be any more trouble.
There are things that can’t possibly change, but when we just give them over to the Lord, they loose their wicked nature. John Kitto, was completely deaf, but when he stopped bemoaning his loss, he became a great servant of the Lord. Paul Azinger, through his cancer, learned submission to the Lord and now lives with – above – his disease. When we are willing to admit that the Lord has the right to give us difficult trials, we step aboard an escalator toward usefulness and greatness. Don’t accuse God, excuse God or wallow in self-pity, but rather recognize God’s authority over us and move on.
Submission is a trust in God’s wisdom and His love. To put it another way, submission is faith in God’s providence. When I was a teenager, my parents, thinking that I would become some sort of scientist, gave me a microscope. I loved it, because it revealed things to me that I couldn’t see otherwise. An attitude of submission to the Lord is like that microscope. It enables us to see things which previously were too difficult to recognize.
There was once a stubborn agnostic who was visiting an agricultural research center. One of the scientists there was looking through a microscope at a soil sample. The visitor was invited to take a look. He found that the soil was filled with the remains of tiny sea crustaceans. They came in all kinds of shapes and forms – stars, crescents and geometric designs. For weeks he thought about what he saw and told his friends about it. Finally the revelation he had received did its work. Visiting a neighborhood church he said, “I acknowledge there must be a God who cares for us. If God lavished that much love and beauty on insignificant dirt, he must care for me as well. I want to learn about the God of the Bible.”
The Lord does care for us, and proves it by His care for the sparrow and other insignificant things. The Lord Jesus said, take a close look that those lilies; smell them and see their beauty. There is probably not a lily on earth that has not had its days of trouble. But no lily on earth has ever spent one second worrying about its difficulties. The Christian should say, “Since it is God who has appointed this problem, I will submit to Him through it.” God knows best.
Submissions is the recognition of God’s authority and acceptance with a smile.
Yes, but why is this important?
Because submission brings PEACE and defeats the heart of discontent. Rarely will a sparrow be content to live in a cage; he will usually die. Why will the canary live there but the sparrow die? Because the canary has peace through submission. Christians, above all people, should learn not to buck God’s will, but rather to accept it. That reception relieves the strain. Cast yourself on the love of God, the will of God and the providence of God. Why shouldn’t I have peace with my all powerful Father who promises my protection?
Another result of submission is POWER. Why is it that God doesn’t do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think for us? It is because, more often than not, we won’t let Him. If we refuse to enjoy collecting manna and eating manna, we will probably starve once we run out of cockroaches. Not far from Calgary, Alberta is one of the most beautiful places on earth – Lake Louise. This high mountain lake is usually azure-green in color, due to the glacial sediment filling it. At the far end of the lake is the glacier, which has been there since before man can remember. Even on the hottest days of the hottest summers that glacier is still there – why? The glacier is in such a position that it rarely receives much direct sunshine. Conversely, if we let the Son of God into our wills, the coldness of our hearts will retreat and melt away. Submission is power. A wife’s submission to her husband is often a great way to get what she wants.
Have you ever experienced conviction about some area of your life which needed work? Perhaps the Lord wanted you to take on some new responsibility or to prune away something selfish. After we think about it for a while, we decide, “I can’t do it, I just can’t do it.” Then the Lord works on us, and we finally realize that it wasn’t “I can’t” but “I WON’T.” When we finally confess the rebellion, the “can’t” transforms into accomplishment. When we refuse to submit ourselves to the Lord, we close the door to the Lord’s omnipotence.
A third benefit of submission is TRIUMPH. Because submission means that God will be able to do what He intended to do with us. My mother used to crochet a lot, and I’d sometimes watch her. Sometimes, she’d work away for a long time weaving a nice smooth circle of material. Then all of a sudden it appeared that she made a mistake, one little notch appeared to be out of place. She’d keep right on going and pretty soon shed make another “mistake,” and another, and another. Ever so slowly, all the apparent mistakes began to form a pattern, and, lo, they weren’t mistakes at all. When we permit the Lord to make some apparent mistakes in our lives without balking, eventually we see that there was a pattern and purpose for it.
But what if we rebel or only partially give ourselves over to the Lord? Every one has seen birds sitting on some electrical lines, and they never seem to get hurt. If we took a stick and reached up to that line, touching it like the bird, we would get hurt. The difference is in total and partial surrender to that line. As long as we touch anything else along with that line, we conduct electricity and will likely die. But if we touch only that electrical line, we’d be safe. “Submit yourselves unto God and resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” Submit yourself to God and we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.
A real submission is a trust in the Lord’s love and power. That submission is the very best thing that any Christian can do for himself. When the Lord asks something of you, it is always best to say “Yes, Lord.” Some of us have been trained not to say “no” to the Lord. But when was the last time that you said “yes”?