Surrender is the key tool to develop in ourselves, if we are to follow Jesus at all. If we cling to our agenda for our life, to the culture’s way of doing things, to the ways of the world, even to what we have been taught in our churches, we are denying God any opportunity to lead us to the full promise of our lives as He created us to be. The one thing that I have learned in my journeying with Jesus is this: the more I cling to anything, the more I suffer. And when I finally learned to just accept whatever was in my life at the time, my suffering went way down to almost nothing, as I figured out how to deal with this new circumstance in my life. Before I could surrender to Jesus, I was desperate to cling to what I wanted to happen, and I needed to know why something was in my life before I could accept it. I finally decided that the “why” wasn’t important at all. I just needed to surrender, adapt to the new thing and to figure out what I needed to do now.
Oh, the freedom of just embracing what already is in our lives, be it huge like the death of my husband or just annoying—like the traffic lights not changing in my favor, it is a relief to live without all the burdens that this life can expect us to bear. Jesus said to the crowds, His disciples and to us:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30).
Imagine that: Jesus is promising us rest, an easy yoke to carry, and a light burden. Surrendering to Jesus means that we no longer have any burden to carry. He bears the burden, makes the agenda, proposes the next step and the next and the next.
And what do we get when we follow Him, having surrendered all that we had really cared about that belongs in the world? We get peace, rest, joy as He leads us to be the person he created us to be, and love. We not only are able to love God, we begin to accept God’s love and forgiveness for us and even begin to love and forgive ourselves for all the very human stuff we have done in our lives.
Jesus did say, “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt.5:48). But when I looked up the meaning of the word translated as perfect, it meant much more than to be a letter-of-the-law person, It meant to be complete, whole. In other words, we are to bring our whole selves before God, not just the “good” parts. We are to come before God as a whole human being, warts and all. Too often we think that we have to be perfect to approach God, but, in reality, it is God who is transforming our pains and sins, our challenges and disappointments so that we can be fully functioning, fully attentive to Him. All we have to do is to surrender our lives to Him, “the good, the bad and the ugly,” as the title of an old Western film put it.
God does all the rest. He heals and transforms us, so that we can be loving spokesmen and women for His agenda for the world. As He heals us of one impediment to loving Him and then another, we are shedding the parts of ourselves that keep us tied to the world. And sooner or later, we are truly His servants in this world.
It takes a lifetime to completely give ourselves over to Him and to completely follow His lead, but it is well worth the journey. It is not that we get rid of anything, but we are no longer beholden to anything or anyone other than to God. So, the old voices still ring out in our minds, but we no longer respond obediently to them. Our total allegiance is to God. They become like “old friends” since they’ve been with us for most of our life. As we observe, but don’t engage with them, we can see how powerful they were in our lives. The training of our parents, our teachers, the culture and the world no longer have the same old effect on us. And what a relief that is, because we can just be who we were created to be, not someone who is so conditioned to be something other than we are. It’s a relief, because our purpose as God defines it is so true to our talents and our experience. We are able now to give back to the world what God has taught us personally. And to experience the joy that our purpose brings us.
We see ourselves as just another of the 7+billion people on this planet that God loves and forgives. We are now humble, because we can see our human side and our divine side, but we no longer fulfill what the human side wants us to do for ourselves. We are humbled to realize that God loves every single one of us the same. He forgives us all. We can now truly care for the people we meet, to value them, no matter who they are or what they have done. This is love, God’s love expressed through us. And we live in peace and joy for our purpose, as defined by God, brings us so much joy and peace because we are no longer looking outside of ourselves for love and attention. We have only to turn inside to the living, loving presence of God within us, now realized because we are so devoted to Him.
Surrender opens all these doors in us to a faithful and fulfilled life. There is much to give up, but also so much to learn and to adopt as our own.
Questions to ponder over the week: What does surrender mean to me? What do I know of the gifts of surrender? If I love God how can I surrender all that I am to Him? Impediments, agendas, worldly desires, and more?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who let go of all ourselves in order to love God. May we be true to our commitment to God, always.
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- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at email@example.com and I will send it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.
 Edward W. Goodrick & John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2nd Edition, (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan Pbulishing House, 1999), Strong’s # 5455, p.1596