Surrender. It is not a word that comes easy for me in my walk with God. The biggest reason for this struggle is my mentality. Believing that my way is better than God’s way, that my plan is better than His plan for my life. Even though I surrender to God time and time again, He continues to do things that I could never have done.
Before we came to Cookson Hills, my road was filled with past failures and rejections. About six months before we even knew of Cookson Hills, I applied to numerous police departments. I had received rejections from most of them. The one I was most excited about joining at the time was the Portland Police Bureau in Portland, Oregon. I had recently flown out there to participate in the testing process and was very excited about the prospect that this could be our home.
While there, I bought my then three-year-old daughter an expensive stuffed horse from Pendleton Fabrics. His name was Morton. When I got back home, I used the horse as a way to tell my daughter, Elliana, that we would potentially be moving out to Portland, where Morton was from. She was excited, as was I. A few weeks after I tested, I received a letter stating that I would not be hired at this time. I was devastated, to say the least. It was at this point I truly surrendered to God and his plan for my life.
A few months after the letter, my wife, Brittany, and I learned of Cookson Hills. We applied, had an interview, and were invited for a visit. The first day here, we knew this was where God wanted us. On the second day of our visit, Elliana rode a horse. She was overjoyed. At that moment, I was reminded of how my plan to move to Portland involved a stuffed animal, but God’s plan for us allowed Elliana to ride a real horse!
This is not to say that God’s way has been easy, but it has been worth every second. It has been such a privilege and tremendous blessing to see God work in these children’s lives. My life has been filled with my own failures, but it has also been filled with God’s goodness, grace, and ultimately his faithfulness. I would never have envisioned a life where Brittany and I would be able to see God move as He has at Cookson Hills. What an honor and privilege it has been to play a part in the story He has written (Isaiah 55:8-9).
We recently took our seven children to Universal Studios in Florida for our Cookson Hills family vacation. It was such a tremendous blessing to see the children’s reactions to the different attractions. Spending this time with the family was excellent.
On our drive back to Cookson Hills, we went through the city of Atlanta. I was reminded of a time about fourteen years earlier when I was a police cadet in the Atlanta Police Academy. Leaving the academy partway through, I moved back home. I had felt as though I had failed and that God had failed me.
On this trip back from our family vacation, I clearly remembered God’s faithfulness and goodness. Never in all of my planning would I have ever envisioned fourteen years from when I left the police academy I would be driving a van full of wonderful children that call me Dad. Nor would I ever imagine that God would allow me to be a part of their lives and that I would have the privilege of seeing God at work in them every day!
I would encourage those reading this to surrender to God. He does not promise that the path of surrender is easy, but he does promise that it is worth it (Romans 8:28).
Morton still lives with us and sleeps on Elliana’s bed. Every night I tuck her in, I see him. He is a constant reminder of God’s love and faithfulness. When my most exciting plan involved a stuffed horse, His plan involved a real horse. His plan is so much greater than mine. Even when I have failed to surrender to Him, He has loved me, redeemed me, and used me to glorify His name. And I am blessed to see Him work in others.