I was walking out of the pool area with my 2 little girls all wrapped up in their towels and shivering as they walked from the steamy warmth of the pool to the chill of the locker rooms. Someone ahead of us opened the heavy door dividing the spaces, letting out a whoosh of cold air. For some reason my almost-5-year-old, Laura, decided she had to catch that door before it completely closed. She stretched her whole little body up to reach the handle, itself as big as she is, with one hand while the other little hand wrapped around the door itself. She pulled with all her might but at best succeeded in keeping it
from closing any further. No way was she getting that door open and as her strength wavered the door started inching closed. My inner Mom sirens went off screeching “danger little hand”, but part of me wanted to let her figure it out on her own. She was pretty determined to wrestle with that door and even though she was slowly losing ground, she didn’t give up. I was waiting for it to dawn on her that in case she lost the battle she might want to unwrap the hand from around the door that was about to slam shut on it. She’s a smart little one though and knew if she gave up the assistance of that hand then the battle would really be lost.
Finally …. (ok only 5 seconds later)… she glanced at me. I recognized the moment of surrender and easily reached up and grabbed the door, easing all of her burden, and we were on our way.
This little incident called to mind something very familiar. How often in our daily lives do we embrace the struggle and think we have to open the heavy doors all by ourselves? Perhaps we do it without thinking or perhaps we just don’t see a different way. Perhaps you are a victim of a difficult situation that you just don’t understand.
Only God knows the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ of our struggles. Only He knows why He allows the Heavy doors to burden us but the bigger point is not about the struggle but about our Surrender.
It is easy to look at our lives and the world at large and find examples of sad, difficult, and even horrific situations and wonder, “Why does God allow that?” Where is His helping hand, his Saving hand? We know He is always with us and all-powerful and in the midst of so much struggle it can be very tempting to question Him, asking “where are you Lord?” “What are you thinking here?” “Don’t you think you should do it this way instead?”
Perhaps He is simply waiting for our glance? Perhaps He is waiting for us to really come to Him in Trust and Surrender. Perhaps He is waiting for us to shed pride and say, “I’ve tried this my way and it’s not working. Now what?” This is true on an individual level in our own lives but also on a bigger societal level. When the pride of the majority seems to have the effect of overruling His helping hand, then the surrender of the minority must be to trust in His sovereignty and the ultimate outcome we have been promised.
Only in the absence of our pride can we enter into the intimacy of that ultimate trust. God invites us to this intimacy again and again throughout scripture with metaphors of the bride and bridegroom. Jesus himself proposes in the Gospel of Matthew “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (11:29)
God desires our surrender and our trust as a sign of our Love, asking us to recognize that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways.” (Is. 55:8)
And unlike the prophet Simeon in the presentation narrative of Luke’s gospel, we are not promised fulfillment of God’s plans in our lifetime but for some reason we often have an expectation that we are. We demand resolution here and now when all we are asked to do really is Surrender to the Almighty God and Trust in Him.
What might have been an epic struggle for little Laura had I not been right there, was really a non-event once she recognized her need for my help and hopefully it was a learning experience for her as well. None of us has to bear the burden of the heavy doors alone. Sometimes our greatest strength lies in our Surrender. From that surrender comes the peace of trusting in the One who can open or close any door and the ability to truly accept the proposal of Jesus “For my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt 11:30)