Surrender is a loaded word. Give up. Give in. Yield. Capitulate. Submit. Acquiesce. Concede. These are a few of the synonyms for surrender. For an American person surrender often looks like quitting or giving up yourself. Waiving the white flag is not something we are taught. We fight. We take possession. We conquer. We don’t submit. We may walk away from a fight, but surrender? No Way!
It is an important doctrine of the church that we surrender our lives to God in order to gain LIFE, a life lived fully, as Jesus modeled life. This surrender happens at the narrow gate that Jesus preached about in Matthew 7: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”
We can call ourselves Christian and be on either side of that gate. Before we pass through the narrow gate we live a life built on belief in God. In surrendering our lives to God we can pass through the narrow gate, giving a promise to put God first in our lives, a dependence to be developed on the relationship with God, a commitment to live out in a God-centered life. Once we pass through that gate we live a life in relationship to, centered in God, going deeper and deeper into our true selves and going deeper and deeper into dependence on and trust in God. It is our experience of God that then becomes the defining keystone or foundation of our lives.
From the moment of surrender on, the focus of our lives is on the experience of God in our lives, a deep listening to the still, small voice of God, a commitment to follow where we are led. So there is that one-time surrender; what follows are 10,000 more surrenders, day-by-day surrenders of our expectations, assumptions, all culturally-biased thinking until we no longer count our own small self’s or ego’s way as of any value and finally just accept what comes to us as part of our lives, seemingly the next step in the development of the relationship with God. We have finally given up the fight.
We do bring forward with us into this surrendered life all our past mistakes and great qualities, our very human nature—inconstant as it is, and everything that we are. In God’s hands all that constitutes the self, the ego and the soul, heart, mind and body are transformed into a person who can serve the Lord no matter what, who can be what he or she was created to be, who will express his or her gifts in the world and help usher in the kingdom of God, who can love no matter what is happening in his or her life.
Of course, there are many stages/steps along the way. The journey consists of bringing together an inconstant human being and God who calls us to him. At first we try hard to listen for God’s will. Later it is no longer obvious who is the source of anything, there seems to be no evident difference between me and God. We can no longer see the dividing line. And later still, I can only imagine…
The most important thing to do always, once we have surrendered our lives, is to listen for God’s support, suggestions, direction, care and love. Through spiritual practices that include silence, like journaling, meditating, Bible study, we develop an inner ear attuned all day long to the Lord. We can hear him in the midst of busyness, in the midst of clamor, in the midst of distraction, rest, meetings, driving—in all the areas of our lives. We can hear him at all times.
As we develop that inner attentiveness, we will want to focus on our “sin,” where we miss the mark of being in God’s presence. We will want to be vigilant about our thinking, to pay attention to the signals our bodies and minds are sending us and to listen for the murmurings of our souls. We aren’t doing this to punish ourselves, not at all, but to continually clear our whatever stands between us and God.
Here is a prayer of release:
I release whatever I am holding onto in my body; I let everything go.
I release whatever I am holding onto in my mind; I let everything go.
I release whatever I am holding onto in my heart; I let everything go.
I release whatever binds my soul and spirit; I let everything go.
By releasing what stands between us and God, we are opening doors within us to the Holy Spirit to transform what needs healing. As we spiral down deeper and deeper into the relationship with the Lord, as we become more and more transparent, we are incorporating all that we have been pushing away as not acceptable in us. We also become more and more helpful to others as we acknowledge our own pain and suffering and let the Spirit transform it, so that we can speak to others with compassion. Or we can just be present to anyone in their suffering and in their joys.
Surrender is what opens the doors and walls within us for transformation, what opens our eyes to see all the blessings and grace that the lord sends us daily. It is the loving act of one who recognizes the Greater Love and Being of our Creator. To surrender our lives to God and then to follow where he leads is to enjoy the greatest freedom we can know—to live our lives as we were created to live. There is only the most natural living and loving, only from the deepest truest self. This is true freedom.
Blessing for the week: May we surrender our lives to God and then continue to surrender our expectations, assumptions, our culturally-based preconceptions as we embrace our lives as they are. May we seek always to deepen our connection to God. May we be healed of all that stands between us and the Creator. May we become what he intended for each of us from our creation. in faith and love, Pat
If you’d like to see more of By the Waters, check these out:
–There’s a new video up on YouTube: “A Deeper, Truer Self”youtube.com/user/patsadams
–Check out my twitter feed at twitter.com/BTWwithPatAdams
–Check out the “Offerings” page on the website which suggests how to obtain a CD of guided meditations designed to help deepen your spiritual life and a series of booklets on the Life of the Spirit.
–Order the CD or tracks of it at cdbaby.com/cd/PatAdams1