Friday, May 4, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Discipline and Submission

On Submission
A devotional by Lisa Lickel

“…Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” ~Ephesians 5:20-21 (ESV)

In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says, “What freedom corresponds to submission? It is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way.”

In my quest to reacquaint myself with and freshen my faith life, I have come to appreciate prayer and worship with a renewed attitude of the with-God life. I turn next to reexamine the spiritual discipline of submission.

The word tends to make me shudder. How about you? I think of all sorts of negative connotations. But just as I have accepted that discipline is not punishment, I can rewire my understanding of submission.

At its heart, submitting means not getting my own way.

I really like getting my own way. I don’t believe I’m alone in this attitude. I like deciding which movie to go to, the kind of shoes and how many pairs I want to buy, what book to read next, when and what to make for supper, how to budget for Christmas, where to go on our next vacation. I’m right about how to fold the towels, which way to hang the toilet paper, how to make the bed, and who should go first at a four-way stop. My ideas about what to print in the church newsletter, which songs go with the service, how to decorate the church, and when to allow children to participate in worship or run around afterward are well thought out, balanced, and offered with love. Why would anyone disagree?

When I submit to the Lord, I am not allowing a cruel, controlling master to force me to do things I don’t want to do. When I submit to my fellow believers, I allow each of us to share the gifts we have been given with grace and dignity. I free my stubborn self-will from the torture of the responsibility of always having to be right. When I submit to others, I show my love and compassion by answering honestly when someone asks my opinion, not resorting to saying “I don’t care,” or “Do what you want,” or the dreaded “I told you so.”

I am learning to empathize with the world God so loved when I no longer have to stand alone in my own righteousness and look with pity on those who don’t know better. My way isn’t always the only way. It’s not always the best way. I don’t have to interrupt others or get in the last word.

What a relief! Not only can I free myself to listen in prayer and be wholly, utterly dependent on God, I can submit in deference and avoid nasty disagreements, anxiety, and grief even when “it” doesn’t go the way I think best. How amazing is that? Denying myself to show the depth of my faith is not giving in to the dark side, it’s allowing God to work through me by example and compassion.

I’m learning that the Holy Spirit leads to good decisions when I listen both in solitude and corporately for His guidance.

But I’m still right about the towels.

My Prayer: Amen and amen, Lord Jesus. Help me deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow you.

Author Bio:

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. 

A multi-published and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and workshop leader. 

She is a member of Chicago Writers Association and part of Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc., mentoring writers from across the U.S. and Canada.

Connect with Lisa:



  1. Thank you for this very thought-provoking post! When you look at "submission" this way, it no longer becomes a dreaded word. Love this: "Denying myself to show the depth of my faith is not giving in to the dark side, it’s allowing God to work through me by example and compassion." Thanks, Lisa and Alexis!

    1. My pleasure, Becky. Thank you for your encouragement.

  2. Thank you for the inspirational devotional. Reading it's a great way to start the day.