I’m sitting in a drive-through line pondering a situation I can’t seem to control. My husband and I are in snowy Colorado coming home from a trip with family. We’re catching a flight in the morning, which means staying at a hotel tonight and fast food is the only nearby option. In a quest for comfort, I order the same meal I did as a kid — filet-o-fish and hot fudge sundae (don’t judge).
Our time here has felt magical — skiing, sledding, making snickerdoodles, cozying up under warm blankets. But I’ve been vaguely distracted by a situation back home. “I can’t figure out how to resolve it,” I tell my husband when he asks what I’m thinking. I’ve fixated on this particular problem for months, looked at it from every angle, broken it apart and put it back together. But I can’t find peace.
Now, even on vacation, there’s no rest inside my mind. I feel weary, so tired of worrying, exhausted from carrying the weight of what I can’t seem to make right. I pause and pray these words:
God, give me the wisdom to know what work is mine to do today. I release everything and everyone else to You. Amen.
I feel a shift within my soul as soon as I finish. I realize I thought I wanted a solution but what I really needed was to surrender. Stop fighting what I can’t change. Start focusing on my own life instead of what I can’t fix. Release responsibility for other people and return to what God has asked of me.
I was doing work that wasn’t mine.
Work that isn’t ours:
– Trying to be responsible for everything and everyone
– Telling ourselves something is our fault when it’s the result of a broken world or someone else’s choices
– Carrying more than our share of the emotional weight in a relationship
– Forcing an outcome rather than taking the next small step of obedience
Work that is ours includes taking responsibility for our thoughts, words, feelings, actions, desires, and needs. It involves taking care of our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies. It means we “run with endurance the race God has set before us… keeping our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The funny thing? The second I said “amen” the person I’d been struggling with sent me a text message. I’d been holding on so tight and when I finally let go, it seemed to unlock something in a way beyond what my human mind is able to comprehend.
Of course, I still want to try to take control again. The situation isn’t fully resolved and I want to put a nice checkmark next to it. I want to clean it up, put it in a category, make it neat and tidy. I don’t want to deal with the mess, the uncertainty, my absolute inability to cause things to turn out the way I want.
I’ve had to pray the same little prayer I did that night in the drive-through over and over again. I’ve said it at least five times this morning and it’s only 9 a.m.. I might say it a hundred times before I go to sleep tonight.
After I say “amen” I ask, “What is my work to do right now?” Then I clean up the kitchen, hug my husband, walk a few steps, or pull out my laptop and type words that will remind me of what is true, and hopefully do the same for you.
(Confession: I don’t always want to do this. Sometimes I’d much rather whine, pout, and try to take charge again. Sometimes that’s exactly what I do. And that’s okay. Surrender is often a process, not an event.)
If you’re worn out from trying to control something or someone, I’m inviting you to say this prayer and ask this question with me too.
Today let’s do our work, and let God do His.
“God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change; COURAGE to change the things I can; and the WISDOM to know the difference.” — serenity prayer
Sharon A says
Just what I needed this morning. Thanks
“God give me the wisdom to know what work is mine to do today. I release everyone and everything else to you.” AMEN
Beautiful! Making this prayer part of my daily prayers.
This is SO good! Just what I needed today. We create so much stress in our life trying to fix things that aren’t ours to fix.
God, give me the wisdom to know what work is mine to do today. I release everything and everyone else to You.
This is the second time this week God has put the word “surrender” in front of me. I am really struggling about what to do next in a situation that I’ve been praying about for months. Give up hope? Keep praying? What does obedience look like? I’m going to read today’s devotion again and again.
Amen! Thank you Holley for this reminder. I need to not only pray this prayer over and over each day, but to relinquish control and live it out also. With God’s help, this is my desire, hour by hour. Thanks to all of you for your comments and encouragement.
I can’t even begin to express how much I needed these words of wisdom today. I’ve been up most of the night trying to figure out how to make things “right” again. Surrender!! The Lord will make all things new in His time. I need to step back and allow Him to heal difficult situations. Thank you for this prayer!!
Ruth Mills says
So well timed Holley! I was struggling with the to-do list and not succeeding at even the first thing on my list this AM. I then heard that still small voice (shove) remind me “it’s not about you, Ruth. Rehearse what you know about ME!” I opened my Bible to Philippians 4:8 and reviewed the whatever list. He is True. Honorable. Just. Pure. Lovely. Commendable. Excellent. My list was not any shorter but I am at peace with what gets done & what doesn’t because of Who He is. I’m incorporating your prayer from now on! Blessings!
This is such good timing for me right now, and so needed. Thank you for this!
So well put, thanks for this Holley!
Holley, this is so good! Thank you for your words to of wisdom. I am struggling with one of those issues myself right now. I’m wondering if I need to do more, or step back. Hmmmm…I guess I need to pray about it. Of course!
Omygosh Holley! These words…and your beautiful and concise prayer were just what I needed today! I relate to every single thing (except enjoying snowy anything) Thank you for sharing!
Oh! I cannot tell you how long I’ve been struggling with this same issue! Giving myself stress headaches, feeling frustrated, all the while knowing that God is the Only One Who can change circumstances and people’s hearts.
It was like a balm to my soul to read this article…and to FINALLY see the futility of my habit…and what to do about it!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this! This website has helped me so much with things I struggle with, and I have purchased several books along the way.
Holley Gerth says
I’m so glad this was helpful to you!
Thanks so much for that Holley. It’s an area I struggle with as I’m not very good with uncertainty. As my word for this year is Freedom what you’ve written is very apt.
Kathy Francescon says
Oh Holly! I am on your email list and so enjoy everyone of them! Your posts are so uplifting and encouraging! I have printed off more than one, to keep and re-read! I am so thankful to see your post on “incourage”! I have been wanting to reply to you from your emails, to thank you for being who you are and sharing your insights and your ministry with us! For some reason, I can’t figure out, my reply emails won’t send! So please know that even if I can’t reply, I am a big fan and love your writing style and the lift your words give to my heart! May God bless you with your ministry and keep your beautiful smile always on your face! Love u sister!!
Holley Gerth says
Thank you so much for reading and your kind words, Kathy!
Beth Williams says
Loved this: “God, give me the wisdom to know what work is mine to do today. I release everything and everyone else to You.” Amen. Women are typically fixers. We want to fix everyone & everything. Making sure there’s a nice tidy bow on top. Sometimes there is no fixing the situation. We have to let go & let God do His work. Currently surrendering a work situation to God. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans have for you” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not for harm. To give you a hope & a future.”
Jeanne Witwicki says
Love and needed this so much! God spoke to me through you!