How Three Little Words Can Be So Scary

Posted on Nov 15, 2011 in Faith | 69 comments

Sixteen years ago at Christmastime I remember reading a prayer which got my attention and wouldn’t let it go. I think that’s because I was not able to say it…I couldn’t imagine having the kind of faith it would require. I must admit this bothered me—it kind of gnawed on my soul. The thing is, I was pregnant with my first baby. All I had ever wanted was to be a mommy and after almost a year of trying, I was now on the path to my “dream come true.” I knew if I said the prayer, it meant giving God permission to do ANYTHING in my life, which to me meant realizing my worst fear of taking away my baby.

The prayer (written by Betty Scott Stam and recorded by Elisabeth Elliot in Let Me Be a Woman) was this: “Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thy wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.” It was those three little words at the end—“at any cost”—which got me every time I tried to say this prayer. I believe God knew my heart—that I wanted to be able to surrender my whole life to Him—but I just couldn’t say those words. They were too scary for me. And I wasn’t going to fake it…I told God I wouldn’t say the prayer unless I could say the whole thing and mean it. And so I continued in my pregnancy, holding tightly to my dream of having babies and being a mommy.

On his due date of May 1, 1996, the most beautiful and precious little boy entered this world…William Gardner Geisz, my firstborn son. (He is now fifteen, goes by “Will,” and is several inches taller than I!) My joy was indescribable, my dream had come true, and I was experiencing a deeper love than I’d ever known. But that gnawing on my soul never went away, and I began realizing my inability to pray “at any cost” was building a barrier between my heart and God’s.

Over the next days and weeks, as I became more and more captivated with my son, I couldn’t help but thank God more and more for MAKING this little miracle. Every good and perfect part of William seemed to point to the goodness and perfection of God, and it became obvious that William—as wonderful as he was—was simply the gift. God was the Maker and Giver of the gift. I realized I was giving my ALL to William yet choosing how much of me I’d give to God…talk about convicting. William wasn’t to be worshipped, God was. My Creator and Lord deserved my all, and not out of guilt or obligation but out of love and adoration. The barrier which had built up was being washed away, and how happy this made me! I was no longer scared to give my all, I was FREE to give my all!  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).

And so twenty days after my baby was born, on May 21, 1996, God enabled me to fully surrender my life to Him…to say “at any cost.” It was a momentous day for me, a turning point in my faith walk. I wrote the prayer inside the front cover of my Bible and as many “big deals” in my life, it was just a private little thing between my heavenly Father and me.

Fast-forward ten more years, three more kids and one more pregnancy…my fifth child was due on May 11, 2006. I was just as excited for this baby as I was for all the others! But God had a VERY different plan in store. This baby, my fourth son, had two fatal conditions and died five hours after his birth. You don’t ever think you’re going to need to pick out your baby’s casket, or flowers for his service, or gravesite for his burial. But God carried me through all this and much more, and I remember my utter amazement when I realized the date of Ben’s funeral: May 21, 2006…exactly ten years after I’d written “at any cost” inside the front cover of my Bible.

After Job’s children died, “Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said…’The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’” (Job 1:20-21). If that “praise” sounds simple or easy, let me assure you it’s not. Having been through it, I’d call it more of a choice, an act of the will and heart, combined with more tears than ducts should be able to produce. I will forever be indebted to Matt Redman for writing the song “Blessed Be Your Name” which gave me strength and hope like few things could during this time. We sang it at Ben’s funeral. “On the road marked with suffering, ‘though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be your name…You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be your name.” These words STILL provide me strength.

No matter how YOU define “at any cost” in your relationship with God, we all can remember that He understands the depth of those three little words. He proved He loves each and every one of us “at any cost” when He sacrificed His own Son on the cross. What we must remember is that after crucifixion comes resurrection…not only in Jesus’ life but in ours. Since Ben’s death, God’s peace has been a gift He and I have slowly unwrapped together, over time. If you want it, His restoration and renewal are waiting for you, too.

2 Comments

  1. I have loved that prayer since I first read it and prayed it in college. But I have to re-pray it. As I have more to lose, as the potential cost grows higher, I find myself taking it back. It’s a continual tug of war for me. But God knows in my heart I want it to be true always.
    This is a beautiful post, Lauri!

    • Thank you so much, Kay. Amazing that you know this prayer! I, too, continually re-pray it… but it gives me renewed strength to do so. Blessings on your day:)

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