Surrender. When we hear that word we often cringe at the thought of what is going to happen. We think of surrender as something demeaning meant for weak and soft people. We live in America where freedom is heralded as a supreme. Now, at the thought of God requiring us to surrender something, for some, is simply outrageous and ludicrous. Many of us wish to experience the full blessing of God yet ignore the demands of God to surrender all that we to Him. We think of God as a “grinch” who wants to steal the pleasure of life, when in fact, the truth is that God wants to make this life all the more abundant (see John 10:10). We are scared of relinquishing control because we want to be in charge. What we don’t realize is that in surrendering all we are, we are in turn given something of infinite value: the ability to experience all the blessings that God has in store for us in life.
We are to live in a manner that is in constant surrender to God, so we learn. The apostle Paul urges us in Romans 12:1 to, “…offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” At first it seems kind of odd that Paul would say “living sacrifice,” which seems to contradict itself. In Luke’s account of the Gospel we find Jesus giving a hard standard to His disciples of what it takes to follow Him:”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Isn’t that something!
Surrendering to God isn’t something that comes natural to us. Only through the power of God’s Spirit can we reject our natural tendency to conform to this world and our bent to do things our way. It’s a natural instinct to want the “keys” to our lives. In the words of FFH, we need to tell God, “You drive, I’ll ride.” I mean, why not? So many of us have the “wheel” of our lives and what happens is that we end of bumping and crashing through life. We act as though know without a doubt what’s best for us.
It must be made clear that surrendering fully to God doesn’t mean that life becomes a perfect bliss. Contrary to the popular “prosperity gospel,” Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t so that you and I could have a nice day, a large bank account, and perfect health. His death was to take our rightful place and satisfy God’s justice so that we might live with Him forever. I know claiming this won’t rank me up as one of the most popular people alive, but how can I shame away from the truth?–I would only show myself to be a fool if I did. John MacArthur, in his book Hard to Believe states that “[s]elf importance is the reigning reality in human fallenness: man is the master of his own soul, the captain of his own fate, and the monarch of his own world.” How true that is?—naturally we want to be in charge. We want to guide our lives however we please. With the final years of the Frank Sinatra, there is one song that best testifies to his life, “My Way.” In one verse of the song he says,
“And now, the end is near,
And so I face the final curtain.
My friends, I’ll say it clear;
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full –
I’ve traveled each and every highway.
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.”
So many of us join Sinatra in the manner we live our lives – thinking we have the answers to all of life’s questions; that we know best.
“Why should we surrender to God?” Now that’s a valid question which requires a straightforward and honest answer. Why? First of all, if God is indeed God, then He created us and we have no right to question His authority on our lives. In His grace and mercy and He didn’t create us as robotic autonomous people but instilled in us the freedom to choose. The fact that He is God is in itself a valid reason for His claim on our lives. Who are we to argue with the God who created us?
Second of all, if God so desired, He would be able to end our lives in a blink of an eye, no questions asked. He permits to stand one more day in the earth by His sheer grace. Sometimes we relegate miracles to the impressive, “out-of-this-world” stories yet we fail to see the every-day miracles. I mean, isn’t it a miracle that we are able to wake up each day? Our heart, so faithfully pumps blood without skipping a beat. Life itself is a miracle. At the close of each chapel service at college, Dr. Lloyd Mims (the worship leader), gives the benediction saying, “By the grace of God you were brought into this world, by the mercy of God you have been sustained to this very moment, and by the love of God fully revealed in Jesus the Christ, you are being redeemed now and forevermore, amen” (emphasis added). You see, when we realize that God has been the one that has “sustained” us to this day, we then cannot help but surrender to the Him all that we are.
And thirdly, when we realize that Christ’s death not only saved us but that it sealed His claim on us, we then are left speechless because He is our ruler and master, we have no say. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” We have no right to withhold God our lives.
As an ignorant self-sufficient freshman in high school, I remember going to church and doing what I pleased. I answered to no one but myself (well maybe my mom once in a while). Oh, I knew the Bible alright. I knew how God died on a cross, out of His love, to save me so that I could spend eternity with Him. I was baptized and answered all the basic questions of Christianity flawlessly. Yes, I knew God as “Savior” (acknowledging that He saved me from hell) but I failed to see Him as my “Lord.” His command, control, and dominion of my life were nonexistent at that moment in my life. I played the part of a “Christian” perfectly – knowing what to say, when to say it, knowing when to raise my hands in the song, and knowing when to smile. But little by little I began to see how God desired so much more than what I was offering Him at the time. I had one foot in the “world”—doing my own thing during the week and then having the other foot in the “church”—living for God. My complete and full obedience to Him was what I denied and He desired. It didn’t take much long, as I all saw peers of mine live out their faith, as it seemed on a 24/7 schedule, to surrender my live completely to Him.
It seems frightening to give something that we master over the best – ourselves. But when we come to the realization that God is sovereign and that He ultimately controls everything, we can then rest assured knowing that we are in “good hands” (and it’s more secure than Allstate Insurance…no pun intended, well, yes it was).
Singing songs, giving money to the church, praying continuously, and reading the Bible, though good, is all done in vain if we insist on restricting God from certain compartments of our lives. Charles Stanley, who pastors a church in Atlanta, says that “withholding portions of ourselves amounts to a lack of trust, and we cannot worship a God we do not trust.” You see, our worship of God becomes all the more real when surrender everything to God – we lose all our self-righteousness and are able to experience a much deeper and satisfying intimate relationship with the Lord.
We cannot let the fear of not knowing what’s in store deter us from letting go of calling the shots. I mean, if Christ loved us enough to die on a cross, to shed His blood for you and me, in order that we might truly live, why should we be afraid at all of His guiding our lives? On the contrary, that fact should spur us on to rest more and more in His care. We cannot be so arrogant to think that we somehow know better than God Himself. We should humbly bow ourselves before God admitting that we don’t know admitting that He does. Let us surrender all or in the words of Judson W. Van DeVenter,
“All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.”
It is certainly not easy—the cost is high! Surrendering is a daily task that we must all face; it forces us to go against everything that we are, yet the value is far-surpassing – allowing us to make life all the more rich and sweet. We can trust in God Almighty to direct our every move knowing that our lives will indeed be blessed when we our able to tell Him, “It’s all about you, and not me.” Let us all experience life at new level as we live in complete surrender to Him.