I use words every day without really thinking about what they mean. I’d be willing to bet that you do too. But every once in a while, (usually when I’m in the shower) a word will stick in my brain and I find myself pondering it and wondering what it really means. Today, I’m thinking about “surrender”. I don’t know why, but let’s explore it together and see where we end up, ok?
I think that when we use the word “surrender” in our Christian circles, we don’t always understand what it really means. There are tons of worship songs and hymns that use the word and I’m sure you’ve heard a message or two about it. I think we think we know what it means and what it looks like, but in reality, we’re missing it completely. Thinking about the word “surrender” has me wondering how often:
- We surrender because we have to: We’ve come to the end of our proverbial rope. We’re trapped by our circumstances and surrender is the only way out. This kind of surrender tends to feel more frustrating than fulfilling, more like punishment than a privilege. This is the kind of surrender wherein we throw up our hands with a frustrated [angry], “I give up” kind of attitude. When we surrender because we feel like we have to, it’s usually just temporary until we get dug out of our current hole and feel like we’re ready to take everything back. This kind of surrender does us no good. It’s superficial. It’s circumstantial. It’s actually not surrender at all – it’s just a bandaid, an act until we can get back on our feet again and carry on with the lives we want to live. It’s all about us and what we want out of life.
- We surrender because we want to: At times, life just gets too hard. We get tired. Or worse, we get lazy. We don’t want to try anymore. We’ve grown weary in well-doing and we just want to give it to God so we don’t have to deal with it anymore. This is a sad, worn out and tragic surrender. This surrender is accompanied by bitterness and resignation. This is a fatalistic surrender. We give up without having hope that God can turn the tide of our lives and bring blessing and fulfillment. This isn’t really surrender either – it’s quitting.
- We surrender because we get to: Over and over the Bible tells us that God wants us to rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30), that He is the one who fights for us (Joshua 23:9-10), and that He wants us to leave in His hands the things that can and will wear us out (1 Peter 5:6-7). True, honest, beneficial surrender is the kind that says, “I’m putting my life in Your hands and I’m letting You call the shots because I trust You.” True surrender is freeing, it’s joyful, it’s peaceful. It’s not a lazy “I gave it to God so now I can sit back and let Him do everything” attitude. And it’s not a fatalistic “I gave it to God and now I just have to see whether or not He comes through for me” attitude. Surrender is giving up our need to control and orchestrate every moment of our lives. Surrender is giving up our need to tell God what we think He should do. Surrender is going to Him with open hands – ready to give Him whatever He needs to take from us, and ready to take whatever He needs to give us – so that we can be the person He can use and bless.
True surrender is a gift. True surrender is a privilege. True surrender frees us up to accept whatever God has for us. True surrender leads to rest, healing, and ironically, victory.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
Where are you on the road to surrender? What encouragement can you offer to the one who is still fighting?