The only difference between submission and mission is that little prefix sub— which means “under, beneath, or below.” As mission-minded families, our daily submission to God, and our yielding to His under-the-surface guidance and His pruning in our lives, will directly affect our overall mission fulfillment and fruitfulness. It may sound more important to board an overseas-bound 747 or to have the opportunity to influence a huge crowd of people, but these activities may not be God’s best plan for this particular moment (or season) in our lives.
We’re all called, as believers, to be a part of God’s worldwide plan; but His expectations for us, as individuals and as a family, may be much smaller, yet possibly even more challenging to obey. Today’s mission-for-the-moment simply may be to open our Bible and read a few chapters or to take a minute to pray for a friend. Maybe right now all God wants is for us to snuggle up on the couch with a little one and read a fun storybook. Or perhaps God’s perfect will is merely for us to quit procrastinating, turn off the computer, and go finish those loads of laundry!
When I think about the word submission, I like to imagine a submarine advancing silently underwater. Without sonar detection, others may not even know it’s there, because it’s so far beneath the surface; yet steadily and powerfully that vessel is still moving toward its goal.
Or when I think about my need to submit to God, I sometimes picture a late-winter scene with newly pruned fruit trees. Our family lives in a beautiful area of Oregon, known for its pear and apple harvests. After years of driving through the orchards, I’ve come to appreciate how God’s fruitfulness comes in seasons. Even when the branches look barren, I know that the tree roots are growing deeper. And if I see the local farmers doing some heavy-duty pruning, I know it’s only because they want an increase in their summertime harvest!
In the same way, as we establish godly and submissive hearts, we can keep advancing forward (like that underwater submarine) and growing deeper and firmer roots (like those fruit trees) to fulfill God’s purposes for our lives. Even if no one notices the little things we do or the little attitudes we change, God knows it all. He knows exactly where we are right now and exactly where He’s planted us. And He has not forgotten about us, or our dreams.
Submission to God involves every area of our lives: our personal maturity (spiritually, mentally, physically, and financially), our attitude toward our marriage, our family priorities, our disciplines in home management— along with our ministry callings. As we allow God to refine those sub areas in our lives, we can trust that He will fulfill all of His mission promises to us . . . in His timing.