A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Submission Hold

March 8th, 2011

My twin daughters Annie and Emma are 10 years old. You can’t tell by looking at them now, but they were preemies. Born seven and a half weeks early they weighed 3 pounds 9 ounces and 3 pounds 14 ounces. I’d never held babies so tiny. Head to toe, they were exactly as long as the keyboard on your computer. The length of their foot was a bit shorter than my little finger.

I will never forget the first time I ever held Emma to give her a bottle. She was a day old. She was hungry so I’m thinking this should be easy, right? Holding her in my left arm, bottle in my right hand I said to myself, “It’s time to be a Dad.” I put it up to her mouth, which is in this moment open and screaming. About one inch away, her jaw clamped shut like a bear trap.

That’s odd. She’s hungry. Why did she do that? Being a guy and sensitive Dad that I am, I thought, “No problem. I’ll just wedge it in here.” But she’s not having it. Any of it. So I try again.

Complete lock down.

The NICU nurse shakes her head and says, “With this one, ya gotta do things a little different.” Little did I know in that moment what a prophetic statement that would turn out to be. The nurse, still shaking her head, says, “You’ve got to put a little drop of formula on her bottom lip so she can taste it first or she won’t drink.”

I didn’t say anything but the look I gave the nurse, roughly translated, was “Please. You have got to be kidding me.” NICU nurses are very kind. And very no nonsense. She pointed at me and commanded, “Do it.”

I put a drop of formula on her bottom lip. Emma let it sit there for a half second, tasted it, then opened her mouth wide as the Grand Canyon.

“How cute!”, I thought. That will make for a charming story in her baby book. But can I tell you something? Every day after that whether it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon or 2 o’clock in the morning we had to play the drop on the bottom lip game until she graduated into a sippy cup.

From day one, Emma wanted to do it her way.

From the day we are born, there is something inherent in us that wants to do things our own way. As human beings, we don’t like submitting to authority. We don’t like it. We buck against it. We submit when we have to. Submitting to authority in our jobs and careers, in most cases, beats getting fired. Submitting to the rules of the road beats getting a ticket or being arrested. But make no mistake, we don’t like it. And if we think that’s not true, then why do we do so many passive aggressive things when we’re under authority? Why, when we are under authority of our boss at work, do we surf the internet when they aren’t looking? Or take an extra ten minutes on a lunch break? Why on a road trip do we set the cruise 3-5 miles an hour above the speed limit?

Whatever the situation, we don’t like submitting to authority.

The Bible says that we are to “submit to one another in love”. How are we doing on that one? In our relationships do we sincerely defer to one another? Do we, for the sake of the relationship, set our needs aside for the purpose of showing love? Or are we insisting on having the last word, being subtly superior because we can’t bring ourselves to submit even for the sake of love?

And while we don’t think about it much, Ephesians 5 tells us that the church is to be subject to Christ. Most of the time we get stuck in that chapter arguing about what it means for wives to be subject to their husbands and how husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. But in the middle of all that it says we as the church are to submit to the authority of Christ.

As the church, how are we doing at that? How often does the church get off track by pressing its own agenda, defining God by religious, cultural or political views instead of submitting to the authority of Christ? How often is the mission of the church driven by a pastor or an elder board’s idea of what a church should look like in the American Christian sub-culture instead of submitting to Christ and allowing Him to define it and direct it? Even in the church we struggle with submitting to Christ’s authority.

It goes all the way back to Genesis 3. The Bible says that in Adam, all sinned. King David said in Psalm 51 “in sin did my mother conceive me.” Ephesians 2 tells us that before God got hold of our lives and saved us by grace through faith, you and I were “children of wrath”. Romans 3:23 reminds us that all of us have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

Bottom line: We’re all natural born sinners. And natural born sinners don’t like taking orders.

So what to do?

Hang around the church long enough, be a Christian long enough, and you’ll eventually hear someone say, “You need to make Christ Lord of your life.” I think we know what is intended by those words. But may I propose that “making Christ Lord of your life” can’t be done? You and I can’t make Jesus Lord of our life. Why? Because you can’t make someone something that they already are. According to Philippians 2, Jesus is Lord whether you and I acknowledge that or not. And someday, all of us will.

If someone is employed by Microsoft, they don’t drive to work saying, “I think I’ll make Bill Gates in charge today.” Microsoft employees don’t make Bill Gates in charge. He is in charge. You can’t make someone what they already are. When the Pittsburgh Steelers go to training camp, they don’t say, “I think I’ll make Mike Tomlin coach this season.” Mike Tomlin is their coach whether they like it or not. The only question for the players is whether or not they choose to place themselves under his authority on the field.

Some may say, “That’s just semantics”. But it’s not. It’s more than that. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Whether we acknowledge or admit that or not, Jesus Christ is Lord. He was Lord before the world was created. We can’t make Jesus what He already is. And when it says that the day is coming when “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”, understand this clearly; it’s not the bowing and the confessing that makes Him Lord.

On that day God the Father isn’t going to say, “Wow, Jesus! Take a look! What a great turn out here! Look at the response! All these people paying homage to you. By popular vote, I guess that makes you Lord.” Nope. Jesus Christ is Lord right now. Our response or lack of it does not make it so. The only question is, are you and I going to align ourselves under that authority? Are we going to submit to His authority as Lord of the Universe and agree to live life by His terms?

Hard questions. And the answers are even harder. If we’re wise, we’ll spend the rest of our earthly life wrestling with them.

It all starts with a decision. Am I willing to submit to God and allow Him to define Himself by His terms?

When we do, we’ll find God true to His word. That He is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindess. That He has a plan for us that includes good works that He prepared in advance for us to do. And that He will always forgive, never leave, and always love.

Emma’s ten years old now. Her stubborn streak is still intact. Yet she’s learned that her Daddy loves her unconditionally and has her best interest at heart. Knowing that, it’s easier for her to trust and obey. Likewise, you and I can submit to God’s Father heart without fear, because He loves us perfectly.

“How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure”

– Stuart Townend

Todd A. Thompson – ASliceOfLifeToGo.com