We hear the word surrender in the Christian world often. But what does it really mean? Is it the same surrender we learn about in history class? The surrender that means to give up? If so, why would a Christian choose to do something associated with weakness?
Thankfully, God gives us the answer to this complicated question. Although there are many examples in the Bible, let’s start in the book of Genesis with Joseph. He was rejected, betrayed, and left for dead by his brothers. Later in life, He rose to the second-highest position in Egypt and had the opportunity to show mercy to the very brothers who nearly destroyed him.
Later, we read about the Israelites who wandered the desert for 40 years while God patiently waited for their surrender. But even though He parted the Red Sea for their escape and provided daily manna to fill their bellies, they doubted God’s promise to provide for them. Their generation never saw the Promised Land.
Another example is David. Even though He was anointed as the future King, he was literally hunted by the current king for years. Throughout the book of Psalms, we read of David’s heartache, fear, and sadness. Yet, we also read of His continued faith in God. He ruled for many years and became known as the “man after God’s own heart.”
Then there is Nehemiah. God sought Nehemiah’s trust when He presented instructions that, to the human mind, seemed illogical. How could an army conquer a city by merely marching around it seven times? But Nehemiah trusted God and his army conquered the city.
Then, in the New Testament, we learn even more about surrender. Jesus teaches the disciples and therefore each of us, that surrender means to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.
“Then Yeshua said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” -Matthew 16:24-25 Tree of Life
Let’s examine these verses to gain a deeper understanding of what Jesus says it means to live surrendered to God.
- We find a subtle invitation in verse 24. “If anyone wants to follow after Me,” implies that Jesus is extending an invitation to you and me.
- Next, we naturally deduce that we have a decision to make. When we are given an invitation, we must then choose to accept or decline it.
- However, we must know what we are accepting before we can fully commit to doing so. Accepting the invitation from Christ is more than a word-only acceptance. Jesus said, “he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” That means to replace our control, our wants, and our desires with His. This kind of surrender means committing to carrying our cross no matter the risk so that we can follow Jesus and live by His authority.
- Finally, Jesus tells the disciples, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” We will always be tempted to protect ourselves from the hard parts of life. The parts like loving well, making the right choices instead of the easy choices, and sacrificing of ourselves for others.
But when we surrender, we don’t fear what may hurt. We bravely commit to loving well, walking with mercy and grace, and trusting that God will never fail us.
In fact, if we try to avoid or protect ourselves from the pain and discomfort that comes from living a full life in Christ, we not only risk losing our eternal life, but we risk losing our purpose. Because usually, we find our purpose right there in the middle of our pain.
This month, we celebrate our daughter’s 10th “Gotcha’ Day”. It’s a celebration of God’s faithfulness and of the day our adoption was final. It was the day we walked into Selah’s orphanage in Bulgaria, took her in our arms, and never let go again. I wrote a book about our journey titled Surrendered Hearts because, during that time, my heart was repeatedly broken. I learned so many lessons about living surrendered to God. I had to let go of my dreams so that I could see the beauty of His.
I assure you that living surrendered to God isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s the opposite. It takes courage and strength to choose right over easy, to follow Truth instead of feelings, and to let go of our desires so that we can replace them with God’s will.
Woven throughout each of our lives is God’s call to live surrendered to Him. Joseph, Nehemiah, and David all have one thing in common. They lived surrendered to God. They looked at their situations through God’s eyes instead of through the eyes of their humanity. Instead of running away from or giving up on difficult situations, they followed God’s requests and in turn, experienced their true-life purpose. A purpose so monumental, it lives on thousands of years later bringing people into relationship with Christ.
But the Israelites? They couldn’t quite get it. Living surrendered to God was the reason they wandered so many years and never reached the Promised Land. They never discovered their true purpose.
Friend, following Christ isn’t always easy. But it is worth it! God will not leave us alone in the hard parts of life. Nor will He let us carry our cross alone. He will always provide the strength we need to rise up and live with victory.
Jesus bore all the ugliness of the world while bruised and bleeding beyond recognition, yet He carried His cross to His death. But three days later He rose again and conquered death – defeating evil once and for all. And now, through His power, we too can conquer the darkest times in our lives, find victory here on earth, and live an eternal life in Heaven.
It’s a beautiful gift – will you choose to receive it today?
As a wife, adoptive and biological mom, teacher, writer, speaker, and coach, Lori’s heart is to encourage others to meet the challenges of life with the hope of Christ. Wherever you find yourself today, you can find the encouragement you need through her work at www.LoriSchumaker.com. In her award-winning book, Surrendered Hearts, she weaves lessons on letting go, trusting, and living surrendered to God through the telling of her family’s adoption story. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Amazon
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