Adventures in Austria: Surrender

Peter J. Baugher
Staff Writer 

I knew Austria would be challenging because while you have your friends with you, the challenges are similar to the struggles of freshman year. 

You are thousands of miles and an ocean away from home, you are away from your routines and support systems and in a new and unfamiliar, albeit exciting, place. 

It can be hard to “roll with the punches” when you are already in such a demanding environment. 

Travel plans fall apart, academics become more stressful and you get sick. 

While I wrestled with these challenges, I was reminded of a word that the Holy Spirit repeatedly put on my heart last semester. 

I did not understand it at the time, but by placing this word on my heart, I now recognize the Lord was preparing me for the challenges I would face this semester. 

That word is “surrender”. 

It’s not a term we often like to hear, at least not in relation to ourselves. When we read “surrender,” we think “defeat.” After all, when an army surrenders, they lose the war. 

Does Christ want us to lose? I don’t think so. 

Proverbs 3:5 reminds us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely.” 

Then Christ calls us to surrender, He calls us to stop fighting our battles for ourselves by our own strength and wit and allow Him to fight for us. 

We surrender our weapons to let our God take over. 

We too often believe that our mind is greater than the mind of the Father. We want to be in control of our plans and our destiny and think that our plans are greater than God’s plans. 

Instead, we should trust in Our Lord and remember God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” 

Finally, we must remember that we are not alone on this journey. God does not abandon us when He places us upon His paths. He was abandoned on the cross so that He will be with us in our sufferings.  

The Lord makes this promise through the prophet Isaiah: “When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you” (Isaiah 43:1-2). 

This is not to discourage you from participating in the Austria Program. In fact, I now see it as a unique opportunity to practice surrendering to God’s will. 

So, is Austria difficult? It sure seems like it. 

But is anything good achieved without difficulty? Austria is hard, but it is a unique and powerful opportunity to grow in your trust in God and grow in your relationships with others.