Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus

with Laura Story | November 19, 2019

Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Laura Story talks about life with her husband Martin, who suffers from a memory deficit due to a brain tumor. Although challenging, Story sees his disability as God's means of grace and tells how God has slowed them down through these circumstances to live in the moment and see His goodness. Faith, she reminds us, is praising God even when we don't see Him.

Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Laura Story talks about life with her husband Martin, who suffers from a memory deficit due to a brain tumor. Although challenging, Story sees his disability as God's means of grace and tells how God has slowed them down through these circumstances to live in the moment and see His goodness. Faith, she reminds us, is praising God even when we don't see Him.

Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus

With Laura Story
|
November 19, 2019
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Singer/songwriter, Laura Story, has come to realize there is a difference between trying to be in control of your own life and living a surrendered life. Any time she forgets that, she says she goes back to the Bible.

Laura: I keep going back to the Psalms—the Psalms talking about the greatness of God: “What is man that He would be mindful of us?” Once we realize it’s silly for us to be co-ruling with Him—it’s not that He doesn’t invite us into it; because He’s constantly, in His Word, talking about us being part of His work—but it’s us laying down/we’re part of it by laying down our desires, like Jesus in the Garden says, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” That’s the posture we need to take as believers.

 

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November19th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. Did you ever have a problem with surrendering, with letting go, releasing your grip on life and following God’s agenda? We’re going to hear more about that today from Laura Story. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. We had a treat, not long ago, when Laura Story, the Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter—who has written such songs as Indescribable and the song, Blessings, and other songs—she stopped by our headquarters, here at FamilyLife®, and we got the staff together. We talked with her, and she sang some songs for us. It was a delightful time; wasn’t it?

Ann: She’s amazing, and she’s so great. She pulls in—in this van. [Laughter] Her kids all come out, and she comes out. She’s honest and real. I think listeners are going to love this today.

Dave: As you’ll hear, there’s a depth to her life and her soul. I mean, it was funny, watching her roll out—[Laughter]—the kids just sort of plopped out, and rolled all over. They ran into the childcare; and then she walks in and shares her heart. It was beautiful.

Bob: We heard from her yesterday about a new book that she’s written called I Give Up that’s all about surrender. In the interview, I asked her about that book and about that theme.

[Interview in front of FamilyLife staff]

Bob: I think I found a mistake.

Laura: Uh-oh!

Bob: On the back cover, it says: “Laura no longer wants to control her life.”

Laura: What it meant to say is: “Laura has found that trying to control her life is futile.” [Laughter]

Bob: It does go on to say, “She wants to be rooted in the God who is in control.” That’s true.

Laura: Yes.

Bob: The idea of surrender—we tend to think of somebody coming to faith in Christ—that’s what they do; they surrender to God.

Ann: Yes; a one-time thing.

Bob: Then it’s over, and then you move on. Surrender is a daily process.

Laura: Absolutely. It’s constantly choosing surrender with/for every moment—always with our time, with our money, with our family, with our children, with our job—whatever it is—whatever it is that God begins to eliminate in your life that you’re holding too tightly to.

For me, if there is something I find myself frustrated—that it’s just not working out the way I think it should—usually, it’s God showing me that my grip on that thing or that person that I’m trying to manage—[Laughter]—that grip is a little too tight.

Dave: I hate that; don’t you? [Laughter]

Laura: Oh, yes.

Dave: I want the other one: “I surrender once; it’s done; you know, there’s no more trials.” Yet, every day is a little bit of prying the hand off something I’m trying to control.

Bob: Here’s what I find myself wrestling with—the difference between surrender and passivity—trying to figure out: “When am I supposed to yield?” and “When am I supposed to step forward and not yield; and push back?” Do you have an answer for me on that?

Laura: I think surrender—really, what we’re asking or what God is asking, is for us to surrender the things that He is supposed to be in control of that we’re trying to be in control of.

There’s a ton of things that are our jobs. Let’s say the person that’s unemployed—if they just sit in bed every day and watch television, because they’re just going to surrender that to the Lord. [Laughter]

Ann: “Okay, God; bring me the job.”

Laura: Actually, there are so many things that we can be doing/most of these arenas are so many things that we can be doing; but at the end of the day, we have to come to the point of saying, “I have done my job, but I am going to trust Him.”

What that looks like—in a very tangible, practical way—is I can go to bed at night and sleep peacefully. I don’t have to be up, wringing my hands over whether or not God is going to come through on His part.

Bob: Throughout the book, you’ve got “White Flag Prayers.”

Laura: Yes.

Bob: Did the prayers come first before the chapters came? I read these and thought, “I bet these are prayers that you’ve prayed over and over again.”

Ann: Let me give you an example of one of those prayers—White Flag Prayer

Number 2: “God, I don’t want to compete with You for control of my life. You know me—all my fears; impatience; and at times, even my unbelief. Holy God, Creator of the universe, help me to daily surrender to You as the Lord of my life.”

As to Bob’s question: “Did the prayer come first?—or the chapter come first?”

Laura: The chapters came first. Each chapter presents everything from reasons why we should surrender to how to surrender. I think, at the end of each chapter—if you, as a reader, could look back and go: “Yes, I think I agree with that. I think I agree with God being trustworthy enough for me to surrender.” I wanted to give the reader a step that they could do in that very moment—nothing that would take more than 15 seconds. All of it is supposed to be like a thousand little steps.

Surrender, if it’s not this—it’s like surrender and forgiveness are like second cousins—[Laughter]—where forgiveness—you can say, “Oh, I forgive that person”; but really, what it is—is you saying: “I forgive that person; and I’m going to make the choice, every time they come to mind, to forgive them a thousand little times.” That’s what surrender looks like—it’s saying, “I want to want to surrender.” Those White Flag Prayers—I’m hoping are going to be a thousand little steps toward that.

Bob: The filling of the Holy Spirit is a continuous activity; right? We are to be continuously be being filled with the Spirit. In the same way that, every moment, we’re to walk in the power of the Spirit, every moment we’re to be forgiving; every moment we’re to be surrendering. It is an ongoing process. That White Flag Prayer that comes at the end of Chapter 2—can I just read the title of Chapter 2? “Dear God, Let’s Be Co-rulers; [Laughter] Love, Me.”

Laura: It’s a very vulnerable book. I live that way—I am totally fine with surrendering to God if He is doing it my way—[Laughter]—I am really good.

I’m like that passenger that—like I really like to drive. I feel like I’m kind of a guy in that sense—I really want to drive.

Ann: Me, too.

Laura: I have trouble trusting the person who’s driving. I’m always looking over their shoulder, saying: “You know, you could take that way; and it would be a little big quicker,” or “Don’t you think, maybe, we should get—

Ann: Are you saying you have a control problem?

Laura: Slightly; slightly. [Laughter]

Dave: My wife never does that.

Ann: I do.

Laura: No; never ever!

Dave: I don’t know where you’d get that.

Laura: The truth is—the only reason why we’d be that way toward God is if we really believed that He needed our help.

Bob: —that we know better than He does.

Laura: Yes; which shows both an inflated view of self and a deflated view of God. If we really saw—I keep going back to the Psalms, because so much of this book—especially as a worship leader, I’m enamored with Psalms. The Psalms talking about the greatness of God: “What is man that He would be mindful of us?”

Once we realize that it’s silly for us to be co-ruling with Him—it’s not that He doesn’t invite us into it—because He’s constantly, in His Word, talking about us being part of His work—but it’s us laying down/we’re part of it by laying down our desires, like Jesus in the Garden says, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” That’s the posture we need to take as believers.

Ann: That’s not always easy. I think it looks different sometimes. Sometimes, it’s emotional. I remember the first time I told Jesus: “I am all in. I surrender everything. I will go.” It’s this passion like, “I’m going to follow You.”

There are other times—my sister died when I was 39—my best friend. She left four boys. It was one of those times where I knelt before God and I said: “I see no sense in this. This is the dumbest thing. Why would You do this?” That surrender was: “I will follow You as an act of my will, not because I’m feeling so great about You. I will follow You because I know You’re faithful. I can trust You, even when it doesn’t feel like it right now.”

It can be different times but it’s still that act of surrender.

Bob: I think about, when the crowds went away from Jesus, and He looked at the disciples and said, “Are you leaving, too?” They said: “Where else do we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.”

In those moments, where we look and we say: “I don’t get this,” and “This does not make sense to me,” we also find ourselves saying: “Where else do we go? Who else can we follow? You have been so gracious in the midst, that even in adversity, there’s no place else to go where life has purpose, or meaning, or makes any sense. So even though this doesn’t make sense, You make more sense than anything else we know”; right?

Dave: Yes; in the middle of that, as we all know, it’s still hard to pick up that white flag. It’s like I still want to maintain a sense of “I can.” Yet, this move at the end of each chapter is a surrender move: “I am surrendering my will to Your will.”

Bob: Tell Laura what you did at church, a couple of months ago, related to control issues and the bicycle.

Dave: I didn’t do anything, Bob; my wife did this. We were doing a message together; and she says, “We have to bring the tandem bike to church.” We have this bike that hangs in our garage; it’s never been ridden.

Ann: I bought it when I was 12 years old.

Dave: I always want to sell it; she will not let me sell it: “It’s a relic.” So, I have to pull this thing down.

Ann: I said, “Honey, can you bring the tandem to church today?” He goes, “Why?!” I said, “I feel like I have this idea of what I would like to—

Dave: I’ve learned: “Just do it.”

Ann: I’m a visual learner.

Bob: “Surrender.”

Dave: “Surrender.” [Laughter]

Ann: I brought this tandem on the stage and I said: “I didn’t grow up in church. My sister came home and told me about Jesus. She said, ‘Ann, like this is how we receive eternal life. God longs for us to have a relationship with Him.’”

I got on the tandem bike—on the front of it—and I said: “Jesus! Get on! Get on the back,”—that’s what I said. [Laughter]

Dave: I’m Jesus—I find out during the sermon—I get on the back to pretend I’m Jesus.

Ann: “I go the same ways I’ve always gone, and I’ve done the same things I always did. Now, I’m feeling guilty because Jesus is on the back; and He sees me. I feel like He’s saying, ‘Let Me take you. Let Me in the front; let Me guide your life and take you on this journey.’ That’s a fearful thing—to let Him take us somewhere—because we don’t know where He’s going to take us. We could marry a pastor. [Laughter]

Laura: I know!

Ann: We could live in Detroit, Michigan.”

Laura: “I could end up on a radio show.” [Laughter]

Ann: Exactly! [Laughter] “When I let Jesus get on the front and take my life, at first it was like: ‘This is amazing! He’s leading me; He’s guiding  me. I’m going to follow Him!’

“But then He takes us on some paths that we never expected or wanted. Then, on the tandem bike, I get on those handlebars/on my handlebars, and I start leaning over Jesus, trying to get those handlebars, and saying, ‘Don’t go this way!’ I’m trying—

Laura: Yes.

Dave: She actually sat on my head, on the bike, in the middle of the sermon, trying to control me. [Laughter]

Ann: —on Jesus. [Laughter] “That’s the hardest thing—to let Him have that driver’s seat.”

Laura: Yes; and believing that surrender isn’t supposed to be this frustrating thing; it really is a freeing thing.

I think one of the things about surrender—people have this image of surrender being like Elsa, on the mountainside—[singing] “Let it go!”—as if we throw our problems into thin air and everything just gets better.

The truth is—that is not biblical surrender at all. First of all, the things in our lives—they’re not these light things that we can throw up into thin air and they disappear—things like cancer, things like infertility, things like addictions—those are weighty things.

What biblical surrender actually looks like—is it’s looking at the things in our life that we try to carry, that are heavy—and looking at our hands and seeing these frail, selfish hands that often fumble—and making a conscious choice/a very rational choice to trust those things into greater, stronger, more trustworthy, more loving hands. That is really more what a biblical picture of surrender looks like.

Bob: You wrote a song about this recently, and Mac Powell sang it with you.

Laura: Yes; this was the beginning of the Lord doing this painful work in my life. [Laughter]

Bob: I listened to this last night and I thought: “Oh, we’ll have Laura do it. I’ll do the Mac Powell part.”

Laura: Yes!

Bob: Then I played it and said, “No; I won’t do the Mac Powell part.” I tried to do the Mac Powell part, but it was a train wreck. [Laughter] So, you’ll do the whole thing; okay?

Laura: Okay; we can do that.

Bob: Let’s do that.

Laura: [Playing piano and singing Open Hands]

Bob: Laura, take a minute here and just pray for those, who need to surrender today—who are trying to climb over, from the back seat into the steering position, and say, “I want control,”—and need to let go and let the Lord direct their lives. Would you pray for them?

Laura: Yes.

Father, we acknowledge that too often we buy into the lie of the world that tells us that we must be independent and self-sufficient, that we must be strong. We acknowledge now that what we have in You, because of Your Son, we are able to be weak. You call us to dependence, and You call us to surrender.

For each person who struggles now—trying to carry something weighty that they were never meant to bear—give us the faith in You, our trustworthy God, to lay it down. We visualize it now, going from our hands to Yours, God. We trust You. We thank You that You are a God who delights in doing exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine for our good and for Your greater glory. We pray in the name of Jesus; amen.

Bob: Would you guys thank Laura Story? [Applause]

Laura: Thank you, guys!

[Studio]

Bob: We’re listening back to an interview with Laura Story, done with our staff, here at FamilyLife, recently.

I think there are a lot of people who can relate to the need to surrender/to give up the desire to want to control all the details of your life. Do you deal with that—control issues?

Ann: I keep waiting for my desire to control to go away; but it never seems to, Bob.

Bob: I think that’s part of the human condition. I think all of us feel safer if we feel like we’re in control, but control is an illusion; isn’t it?

Dave: Yes; I love the line in the song, Open Hands, she just sang. It’s the line: “a clenching-fist, a life of fear”—and I’m a clenching-fist guy. You know, I hold on, and I want to hold on. It’s really hard to open the hand and say, “Okay; I’m going to trust God.” He can be trusted, but it’s really difficult.

Ann: I don’t think we can experience all God has for us until we do unclench that fist and give Him everything, because that’s when the journey begins and the adventure with God.

Bob: I think there are times, when God says: “Okay; if you want to hang on, hang on. We’ll see where this goes.” The life of surrender—it’s a little like skydiving, which I’ve never done. Have you ever skydived?

Dave: Never have; I sort of want to.

Ann: I want to, too.

Dave: I’m holding on to my fist of not—[Laughter]—“I’m not going to do that. I’m going to hold on to the plane—hold on to that anchor.” [Laughter]

Bob: I think God says: “When you let go, where I’m going to take you is going to be glorious. Yes, it may be scary for awhile.”

Ann: —“and not always easy.”

Dave: Right; I’ve said this/I’ve seen this written—the visual of, if you have your fist closed, you can’t put anything into it. It really is true. Until you let go and trust God, you don’t know what He might have for you. It just might be peace.

Bob: I think that’s the conclusion Laura comes to in the book that she has written called I Give Up. The subtitle is The Secret Joy of a Surrendered Life. There is peace when you surrender to God and to His purposes and His will. We’ve got copies of Laura’s book our FamilyLife Resource Center. Let me encourage you to go online to order your copy. Again, the title is I Give Up by Laura Story. Our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. The number to call to order is 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, you can order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order: 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

I think, if we’re honest, all of us would agree that living a surrendered life/giving up is not easy; but there’s a lot in following Jesus that can be challenging. Here, at FamilyLife, our goal is to try to effectively develop godly marriages and families—to help one another through the hard parts of marriage and the hard parts of raising our kids—and to look back to the Scripture and say: “What does the Bible teach us?” and “How do we respond?” “How do we do this God’s way?”

We’re so grateful to those of you who partner with us to make this daily radio program possible. When you donate to support FamilyLife Today, what you’re really doing is supporting listeners, who are facing challenges in their marriage and family, and finding help and hope through this program. Thank you for that partnership.

If you can make a donation today, we’d love to send you a thank-you gift. It’s a collection of 12 ornaments for your Christmas tree, designed with your kids in mind. Each of these ornaments take a different title or a different name for Jesus and allow you, as you hang these on the tree, to talk about what it means that Jesus is the Door, or that He is the Living Water, or that He is the Lion of Judah, or the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

There are a dozen different ornaments in what we call The Twelve Names of Christmas. We’re happy to send you these ornaments as a way of saying, “Thank you,” when you go online to make a donation at FamilyLife Today. You can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to donate at 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Tomorrow, we want to talk about how important prayer is in a marriage—praying together, as a couple; praying for one another. We’re going to talk about that with Joel and Nina Schmidgall. Hope you can join us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.

©Song: Open Hands

Artist:  Laura Story

Album: Open Hands ©2017, Laura Story Music

 

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Copyright © 2019 FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

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