We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

Proverbs 16:9 – NLT

For the past four years in lieu of setting New Year’s Resolutions I have selected one word and an accompanying Bible verse for the year.  The word and verse are meant to be a focus, an encouragement, and a theme for the year ahead.  My list has included – bold, confidence, savor, and health.  This year, I am choosing the word – surrender.  

I know, surrender sounds like a very passive word, but it’s not.  Surrender is an action.  It comes when we exhaust everything within our power.  It comes when we admit something is beyond our control.    Yes, it comes when our striving ceases, but it doesn’t negate our striving.  Surrender means doing what we have been called to do, whilst simultaneously accepting and releasing what is out of our control.  

For example – parenting.  We do everything within our power to be the best parent we can be.  We invest in our kids.  Nurture our kids.  Encourage our kids.  Help our kids whenever we are needed.  

But there is a point when our kids must do for themselves.  We can only do so much for our children.  We can’t take their tests, take their place in performances, walk through an illness on their behalf, or fight their battles for them, no matter how much we may want to. 

At some point we must acknowledge our limitations, what is out of our control.  Surrender.   Eventually, our kids must step up for themselves.  And sometimes the outcome is even beyond us and them.  Sometimes it’s in God’s hands.

So practically what does surrender look like in the year ahead?  Surrender for me is synonymous with prayer.  Sometimes these prayers can be a one-breath prayer.  When we find ourselves praying for something or someone and we feel like the outcome is beyond our control we can take a deep breath in, exhale, and simply state –


It’s a verbal cue to hand it over to God.  To say, God this is out of our control.  We are going to surrender this person, this outcome, this situation to God.  We are going to trust that God is in control and working on our behalf in every situation.  We are going to acknowledging we were never in control in the first place.  And it’s ok to admit we aren’t in control.  

We can’t will anything into being or changing.  But. God. Can. 

We can’t do the impossible.  But. God. Can.  

We can’t see the big picture.  We don’t know God’s plans.  For us.  For those around us.  But. God. Does.

Surrender is an invitation to pray and grow our faith.  To trust God with what concerns us and then to see him answer our prayers.  To see him fight on our behalf.  To see his faithfulness and provisions when we are lacking.

Surrender looks like freedom.  Relinquishing the illusion of control.  Trusting that God has a plan and praying that he will work in all things. 

Surrender looks like rest.  Ceasing to strive.  Letting go of the burden of guilt or shame for things that aren’t our responsibility. 

Surrender looks like trusting God with our dreams, both big and small.  Knowing he can do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine.  We all have plans and desires, but in the end, it is God’s will that prevails.  We can plan and determine to do certain things, but surrender means we are open to God’s direction:

 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

Proverbs 16:9 – NLT

Surrender looks like submission.  God knows where we are headed.  He gives us opportunities to serve him and others.  To have an impact.  But oftentimes God using us comes down to our willingness to say – YES.  Like Mary, having the courage to say:

“I am the Lord’s servant, let it be….”

(Luke 1:38 ESV)

Surrender isn’t natural or easy, but it is freedom.  Freedom to walk how God has called us to walk.  Freedom to stop taking responsibility for burdens we aren’t meant to shoulder.  Freedom to trust God and see him answer our prayers.  May we all experience the freedom of surrender in 2022 and beyond.