Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #40 Surrender

March 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs with Liz Curtis Higgs

Every mom has her pet phrases, especially when patience is in short supply. One of my mother’s was, “You think you’re so smart.” Once (and only once) I shot back, “But I thought you wanted me to be smart!”

Yeah, I was that kid. Maybe you were too.

Miss Smarty Pants. Little Mister Know-It-All. Too clever for our own good. A living, breathing example of “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15 KJV).

Problem is, I never completely outgrew that attitude. I just learned how to hide it.

I (usually) say the right words and do the right things, but inside lurks a headstrong child who still on occasion stamps her foot and says, “I’d rather do it myself!”

For all of us who secretly think that we’re pretty smart, that we know what we’re doing, that we can manage things ourselves, God has a word for us this week.

Lay down your weapons. You are not going to win. Not until you surrender.

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
    that can succeed against the Lord. Proverbs 21:30

The Walls of Edinburgh Castle

There is no wisdom,…

To be clear, “no human wisdom” (NLT) can match God’s wisdom. No person is “wise enough” (ERV) to go toe-to-toe with our Creator.

God is all wise, all seeing, all knowing, and all loving.
Us? We’re a mess.
Seldom wise, blind to truth, knowing little, and loving only when it suits us.

These Scottish castle walls remind us of what we’re up against: a God whose timeless wisdom is like a fortress. Imposing. Impregnable. And impossible to ignore.

The Outer Wall of Orchardton Tower

…no insight,…

“No understanding” (ASV) or “discernment” (CJB) can scale the heights of God’s wisdom. Despite our best efforts to work things out apart from God, “no prudence” (DRA) or “wise saying” (NIRV) can topple over his ageless truth.

“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law?
Where is the philosopher of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20

The fact is, “No one, regardless of how shrewd or well-advised he is, can stand against the Lord” (TLB).

We keep trying, of course. “But Lord, I can’t wait any longer. I don’t want to do things your way. Isn’t my idea a good one?”

The Walls of Linlithgow Palace

…no plan…

No, that’s not a good idea. Sorry. ”Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived” (MSG) will cut it unless God is in it.

Whatever “advice” (NCV) or “counsel” (ASV) we seek, however much plotting and planning we do, God’s wisdom will prevail. “Human wisdom, brilliance, insight—they are of no help” (GNT).

Sounding good and being good are not the same thing. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

You and I can spend twelve years going to school, perhaps another four years attending college, even three more years seeking a master’s degree. Yet all our higher education, all our worldly knowledge cannot hold a candle in a castle courtyard to God’s good and perfect will, fully revealed in his Word and through his Holy Spirit.

Sometimes when we say, “I’m seeking God’s will,” what we really mean is, “I’m looking for a second opinion.”

Despite our best efforts, “no plan is good enough to stand up to the Eternal” (VOICE). Still, we keep forging ahead, determined to make things happen according to our own plans.

But instead of carrying an ironclad shield of faith, we’re gripping a cardboard box and waving a plastic sword.

Have fun storming the castle.

Caerlaverock Castle

…that can succeed against the Lord.

To be honest, “succeed” (EXB) or “prevail” (AMP) isn’t really there in the original Hebrew. All we get is neged, meaning “in front of, in sight of.” So, when we stand opposite him—on our own side instead of on his side—when we come “over-against Jehovah” (YLT), it’s a guaranteed Fail.

We can’t “defeat the Lord” (CEV), and we’re never going to “get the better of God” (MSG). The sooner we accept that reality and surrender, the sooner we can live at peace with him—safely dwelling inside the castle, instead of rattling the iron portcullis or drowning in the watery moat outside the castle.

God wants us with him for eternity. That’s his plan, beloved. The best of all plans.

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:11

Here is the hope we’ve been longing for:
His Son is the bridge that carries us inside the castle walls.
Formed of the same stone. Strong enough to bear our burdens.
And no siege engine, no cannon, no steel can tear that mighty bridge down.

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
    that can succeed against the Lord. Proverbs 21:30

Bridge to Eilean Donan Castle

Now it’s your turn

  • Even living inside the castle walls, we may still harbor rebellious thoughts. What is God asking you to surrender this day?

Please respond via Post a Comment below. You can be sure I read each one, responding whenever I can and rejoicing each time you comfort and encourage one another.

Here is your Printable of Proverbs 21:30 (thanks for your patience as it loads). The dozen verses we’ve studied so far also await you on Pinterest.

Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for you?

Your sister, Liz
@LizCurtisHiggs #50Proverbs

Your Sister, Liz Curtis HiggsBible Gateway Blogger Grid MemberMarch 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs with Liz Curtis Higgs

P.S. Here’s what readers are saying about my new novella, Mercy Like Sunlighton Amazon and Barnes&Noble. I hope you’ll enjoy Mary Margaret Delaney’s story too.

57 Responses to Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #40 Surrender

  1. Pam Friedler March 26, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    This blog blesses me so much, thank you.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

      Thanks for taking time to read it, Pam!

  2. Lawan Rivera March 26, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    As I sit here and think about what God wants me to surrender I can only say control. I have always had a problem with food. Making it my god, my comfort, my peace. Since January 6th I have been eating clean, healthy food. I’m not doing it for weight loss although that is a nice side affect. The purpose is to bring God glory in this area of my life that I hold onto with all my might. So I guess (I know) that what He wants from me is control. I’ve been struggling this week so I must relinquish control of my way and turn to Him.
    Thank you for this blog. I love it. I always read it but don’t comment often. I pray you have a fabulous week!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

      Let me just say, dear sister: I so get this particular struggle. And I’m proud of you for choosing wisely, and for knowing what needs to happen next. Thanks for commenting too!

  3. Diana Leagh Matthews March 26, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    Thank you for this timely verse, Liz. I’ve been seeking His wisdom on various areas and it is difficult to wait for long periods of time for an answer. I smiled, because I also have that inner rebel that doesn’t want to relinquish control. Time and again I have to turn it over to Him. You’re such a blessing!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

      Sometimes my rebel isn’t very “inner” either! Bless you for studying with us, Diana.

  4. Christina Anderson March 26, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    My dad always called me “bullheaded”. Boy was he ever right! From the time I was small, and I’m sixty-six now, I have had to have things my way. As a result I’ve been married and divorced three times. Sometimes still insist on doing things my way. It always backfires and I always wind up being deeply ashamed and deeply contrite. You’d think I’d learn, huh? Slowly. The phrase “We are too soon old and too late smart” comes to mind when I think of my life. Just read Max Lucado’s daily devotional on grace. Boy am I ever in need of it! This blog was great and pointed out to me exactly how I have continued to butt my stupid head against God’s impregnable wall.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      A gentle reminder about that bridge called Jesus. He carries us. He transports us. He sustains us. Max’s book on Grace is terrific. Keep focusing on what God has done, rather than what you have done. He is FAITHFUL, beloved, and is far more interested in your future with him than in your past.

      • Elaine Steil March 26, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

        I am so hard on myself. I needed to read what you just wrote.
        Today I am going to begin focusing on what God has done and let go of what mistakes I have made. What a revelation, He is more interested in my future with Him, I just love this. Thank you.

    • Barbara Peterson March 27, 2014 at 12:17 am #

      Love the too old soon and too smart late 🙂 so true. Yet if we had the smarts too soon, we probably would not know how to apply them; God keeps the balance for us.

  5. Sheri F March 26, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    Things are sort of stacking up right now. Trouble keeping a vehicle running, a search for a larger home we have promised two small boys who can no longer live in the same space, bullying at my husbands work place, a never ending winter causing me depression, and funds that won’t do all things listed here. I am struggling with giving it up to God. I know he has me and knows where we are going but I just have always been one to like to be included in the flight plans, so to speak. My heart knows that no matter how bad the day, the Lord has always provided what we needed. He will do so now. I just need to push the fear out of my life.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

      Life and all its worries can definitely become overwhelming. It’s comforting to know that stacks upon stacks don’t overwhelm God. He never gets stressed out. He can handle our fears. Praying for you today, Sheri.

    • Barbara Peterson March 27, 2014 at 12:25 am #

      Praying Sheri – loved something shared by our speaker at retreat this month. “Complaining about God is rebellion” Complaining to God is worship”. He is honored when we complain to him and when he hears our cries, he is moved with compassion – not moved to compassion because he is compassion. In other words when he hears our cries his love overflows into our lives. Hope you are encouraged. Hugs in the midst of your struggles and may you feel his hugs, too.

  6. Denise M March 26, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Liz, I have been so blessed and taught by these posts from Proverbs! I am working on memorizing the verses with you. I have also been blessed to participate in the Made to Crave studies this year with Proverbs 31 Ministries. Our verse this week is the one from Eph. 6:16 “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Beyond all of the other armor we are instructed to put on, we are to take up the shield of faith. It is not just a defensive shield, but also an offensive shield. And the promise is that we will be able to quench ALL the fiery darts of the wicked. One of Satan’s “fiery darts” is to try and get us to believe that we are better than God – that our ways make more sense than God’s ways – that we don’t have to wait for God’s timing. But we have this instruction from Proverbs 21:30 “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.” I always get so excited to see all parts of God’s Word coming together! I also love the pictures you post! And that clip from Princess Bride – Priceless!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

      Wow. It IS wonderful to watch the Lord at work, bring the same truth to our doorsteps from various sources. Oh, how he loves us so!

  7. Cynthia Stevenson March 26, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    Even living inside the castle walls, we may still harbor rebellious thoughts. What is God asking you to surrender this day?

    I need to seek God’s will more and not my own will. I am very independent so sometimes I just go ahead and do things without first seeking what God wants me to do first. Sometimes is probably more like most of the time. I’ve got a lot to work on!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

      So appreciate your honesty, Cynthia. Here’s the happy news: God is working on that in all of us.

  8. Jean Higginbotham March 26, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    What an awesome convicting message.Thank you, Liz, for saying it so plainly. There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

      Seriously, Jean, I think I could have simply posted the verse and quit right there! So straightforward.

  9. Connie March 26, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    What a timely message! I need to surrender control and my bad attitude about our financial situation. I am working on my 1000 gifts gratitude list for the second year in a row. And I know that I have MUCH to be thankful for, yet I struggle with fear, control, & that results in a bad attitude about the financial struggles we’ve had for years. I give it to God; then I snatch it back with worry. Praying daily for God to move in me and our situation. Thank you, Liz, for your ministry! I love your books!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

      Totally get the “give it to God, snatch it back” scenario, Connie. Making a list of those One Thousand Gifts is a great way to keep your hands and heart busy, so you aren’t tempted to take back what God is already taking care of.

  10. Jennifer March 26, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    What does God want me to surrender? That stubborn place inside of me that says “I can do it myself! “. I can’t, I know in my heart that I can’t but still I am as stiff necked as Israel herself. Praise God that He is patient with me.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

      Right there with you. His patience IS amazing, Jennifer.

  11. Ellen March 26, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Liz, thank you for your honesty and wisdom. I love reading your blog each week. and always take something positive from it. I need to let go of my worry and fear concerning my daughter, Laura’s, relationship with her boyfriend. I do not fear her safety; I fear for her happiness. He is an atheist (although she says he is a wonderfully spiritual man); his OCD has tended to impede on their relationship; he has been quite self-centered; all of the things a mother would not want in a partner for her daughter. Now the letting go part. Laura is 33 and lives on the opposite coast. She has done very well for herself and does make good decisions. She tells me that over the past 5 months he has significantly changed for the better after she took a period of time off to assess their relationship. I want to let go and let God be with Laura. If He wants Laura to be with her boyfriend, then so be it. I am praying for His wisdom and peace of mind.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

      No one every really tells us how hard it will be to parent adult children. I foolishly thought, “Get them through college, and you’re golden…” Well! Joining with you in prayer this evening for your dear Laura.

  12. jaime March 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    My way or the highway. That’s how things HAVE to be and that’s what I need to give up. God wants us to love but with a my way attitude, its hard to love. Love is a lot of sharing, compromising, forgiving, and a multitude of other things. We can’t be any of those things unless we first surrender ourselves to Him. His plan is for us to be more like Him and I like that plan. Its just so hard to surrender ourselves and our situations to Him. For me, surrendering the bullheaded prideful controlling parts of myself is extremely difficult. Let go let God is easy advice to give but sometimes hard to receive. I ask for strength and humility to give Him what I need to so I can be more like Him.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

      Your words are very wise, Jaime. Being honest with yourself and with others is a huge leap forward.

  13. Paula March 26, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    I receive your e-mails because I saw you once and sooo enjoyed hearing you speak. I’ve been receiving these and this is the only time I’ve actually read it. (sorry) BUT it is the one I definitely needed – word du jour – necessary! I have and am struggling letting go of a relationship that has just started. your words are softening my heart. I’m not happy about it but I will relent and surrender. Signed, 52 and not married yet! 🙁

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

      Paula, I’m glad you found a moment to read my blog, and at just the right time–how like the Lord, who loves you so much. You can trust his leading. Praying for you about that difficult step of surrendering. Hard at any age, at any stage.

  14. Elaine Steil March 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    I believe everyday God is asking me to desire His will not mine, to see His wisdom above all else. Do I succeed at doing this, not as much as I would like too. Thank you Liz for always making me dig deeper into the word.

  15. Julie Sunne March 26, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    The post I wrote today is about the need for me to surrender my desires for my ministry to fulfill His plan for my now. Even good things may be outside of His plan or not in His current timing. A wider audience may be in His will for me eventually, but not in His NOW for me. In other words, I may need to grow into His plan before I can jump in headfirst (with feet following, of course).

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

      It’s so hard, isn’t it, to focus on that audience of One, and not get caught up in the numbers? Heavenly Father, assure my sister Julie that she is walking in the very center of your will and according to your plan, and it’s a GOOD path, taking her exactly where she needs to go, right on schedule.

  16. Lynn Zabler March 26, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    I cannot put Mercy by Sunlight down. It is a passionate read. I love it.
    Thanks Liz

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

      Thanks so much, Lynn. I was hoping my novella might help prepare our hearts for the Easter season now upon us. I definitely wrote it with my heart thumping and tears pooling in my eyes. So glad a little of that passion ended up in the story.

  17. Tammy March 26, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    Being strong willed is a survival instinct in a rough, secular world. However, strong willed in the Christian realm can often translate to just plain stubborn. When we are aligned with God’s will everything goes so much better, and blessings abound. The urge to do things my way and within my time frame is strong, but the more I witness how much better things are when I surrender to God and give Him room to work in my life, the more I long to turn things over to Him. Thank you Liz, as always.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

      We love learning from your hard-earned wisdom, Tammy.

  18. Bobbie March 26, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Dear Liz,
    Thank you so much for the devotions today. This really hit home. I started today by singing “I Surrender All” I totally needed this. I have always tried to listen and follow God’s word, but there are times when it’s hard to let go and let God. I have a little verse that I try to say daily ” Pray, Pray, Pray, and then move out of the way”

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 26, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

      Now THERE is a line we can all memorize: “Pray, pray, pray, then move out of the way”! Thanks for sharing, Bobbie.

  19. Barbara Peterson March 27, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    This weeks verse made me think of trusting God for our vacation plans; been trying to save for vacation and it seems difficult to set the correct goals for saving. Did not think about the fact that I was trying to make those plans on my own and not specifically asking for God’s help. Now I am asking every step of the way until vacation; even if his plans are different for us. 🙂

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 27, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      You are so wise to leave the door open for God to answer your prayers according to his will, meaning his VERY BEST plan for you, Barbara.

  20. Elizabeth Hoagland March 27, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Oh dear, Liz, you got me on this one for certain….schemer/planner that I can be, forever impatient on waiting on the Lord & HIS plans….than my own fix-it-mentality. Sigh. The castle pics remind us of what a fortress we have in Him…AND how we must guard our forts (homes) from the enemy prowling outside. Love all your versions and points I needed this very day. Love across town, Elizabeth =)

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 31, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      Be comforted, dear friend: In Britain, the word “scheme” simply means “plan”! We gotta help each other run into our might fortress, rather than march out with our flimsy shields, trying to do life on our own!

  21. Linda H March 28, 2014 at 8:17 am #

    Loved this verse today!! I need to surrender my scheming and plans that I think are best. How my shield of faith will guard me when I stay within the shelter of His walls. Waiting after I have made my plans never works out. What joy will fill my heart when I seek His plan first and trust Him in the waiting!! Thanks Liz once again for speaking God’s word into my life♡♡

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

      This is a powerful truth, Linda: “Waiting after I have made my plans never works out.” THANKS for sharing it.

  22. Loni March 28, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    Thank you for the timely blog! It’s a reinforcement to the thoughts God has been placing in my heart the past few days- to not run ahead of Him- to be patient-wait for His direction; regardless of how my circumstances look. He is in control, He goes before and comes behind me! No weapon formed against will prosper! He’s working behind the scenes and at the scene; sees the big picture! He’s the writer and director of my life! I just have to stay inside His fortress and trust! Liz once again you are used by God to speak to my heart! 🙂

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 31, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

      So much wisdom in these words, Lori: “stay inside His fortress and trust!”

  23. Brenda Skillman March 28, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    Oh how I needed this very timely thoughts of encouragement for me! As we seek The Lord for His guidance & will in my husband a job! We ask for a place where He can uses us in His church. I want His will & place so bad,but I keep think how I want to be closer to me grand babies ,son & family! I want what HE wants!! Please pray for me to totally SURRENDER in this situation! Thank you dear Sis! God Bless

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 31, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      I have to keep reminding myself of the same thing, Brenda: to “want what HE wants.” Praying his peace will calm your heart.

  24. Richard R.Bono Jr March 28, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Thanks Sis Higgs For That Wonderful Teaching.All I Want From God Is Wisdom And Understanding.I Have Been Praying For This A Very Long Time And I Know That He With Work Will In His Timeing.The Society I Found Meself Ever One Wants To Get Rich So People Are Doing Things The Ways They Can Get Rich.I’m Poor But I Believed With Wisdom And Understanding I’m Rich.May God Bless U In Your Work In Jesus Name.And Please Remember Me In Your Daily Prayer.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 31, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      You are the RIGHT kind of rich, brother: rich in spirit. Honored to pray for you today.

  25. Chris March 29, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I need to give up my frustration over what I did not want to accept as a good enough settlement in my pelvic injury of years ago. It is now being handed to Jesus. It is being laid at his feet. I’ve known all my life that God is my fortress but I have fought this one for way too long. It feels good to be giving it up to the Lord. My settlement is enough and does not define who I am. Thank you for a life changing series.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

      Every sentence you wrote, Chris, rings with conviction. I praise God that he has finally brought you to this point of real surrender. BLESS YOU for encouraging us with your story.

  26. joanna Mclaughlin March 31, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    very simple but oh so hard – my wants, my desires, my needs. My oh My.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs March 31, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

      I hear you, Joanna! God knows us, loves us, and has a plan for each of us. In this we find our peace, minute by minute.

  27. Ann Bursey April 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Thank you

  28. Regina April 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    I can’t help it. Mulling over this proverb has me thinking of another: Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21). In my early 20s, I went through a period where God seemed to take every plan and dream I had dreamed for myself and systematically dismantled them. I don’t know that I’ve ever fully recovered from that. But I don’t know that that’s a bad thing. I tenaciously hold onto the words of Jesus: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” So yeah, surrendering life plans. Good there.

    What I’m not as good at is surrendering my friends. What I plan and scheme about is how to live this whole Jesus thing out in a way that draws other people to him…and to the hope and life and grace and joy and wholeness I’ve found. It’s hard for me to remember that it’s not my job to connect the dots for people. Does he use me? Yes. Absolutely. But am I in control of the process? No. It’s just my job to, well, to love Jesus with everything I am, to show it by loving other people, and to surrender the rest.

    Surrendering the rest. That’s the hard part.