So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Exodus 2:12
The act of willing surrender is a choice of openness, a choice of abandonment of self-determination, a choice of cooperation with God. ~ David Benner, Desiring God’s Will
Surrendering to God sounds like such a nice thing, but is the never-ending battle of a Christ-follower. We never get to a place where we can relax and believe that we have settled the issue of willfulness.
All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
The great danger is that when we sing songs like that in safe places of worship we come to think of ourselves as surrendered people. We confuse intention with action and desire with behavior. But the truth about surrender does not come on Sunday morning when the music is playing; the truth about surrender happens when you are tempted.
Will you take the pain that comes from saying, “yes” to God? When John the Baptizer said yes to God it cost him great discomfort. Each of the followers of Jesus in his lifetime paid a great price to saying yes to God. Jesus was not spared the ultimate pain of saying yes to God. What makes me think I can escape the pain of saying yes to God?
We have so anesthetized and Joel Osteenized our faith that we leave the impression that to follow Jesus ought to be all rainbows, puppy dogs and puffy clouds. It’s a lie from the pit of hell and it smells like smoke.
Our culture screams that we should assert our will in every area of our lives, but the Christian teaching says something different.
Take the age-old problem of judging. It is a vice for which we religious types are infamous. In spite of clear teaching from Jesus to not judge, we do so with much alacrity. We look at a person and assign that person a certain category. That person does not dress like me or manage their time or money like I do. They do not hold to my particular political views and I form value assessment of that person. Now that person is not an image-bearer like me, his identity has shifted to his behavior or his politics. She is other.
I segregate them in my mind. Instead of looking at that tattoo-wearing, Obama-supporting, welfare-enrolled, abortion-supporting, anti-gun person as a man or a woman created in the image of God who is just as broken as I am—they are “those people.” And as long as they are “those people” the only way I will have a convivial relationship with them is if the relationship is on my terms.
I simply don’t look at those outside of my tribe and say, “Lord, how do you want me to love them right where they are and NEVER try to change them.”
I love what Frank Laubach wrote years ago about surrender:
Submission is the first and last duty of man. That is exactly what I have needed in my Christian life. Two years ago a profound dissatisfaction led me to begin trying to line up my actions with the will of God about every fifteen minutes or every half hour. Other people to whom I confessed this intention said it was impossible. I judge from what I have said that few people are trying even that. But this year I have started out trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, “What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?”
This is doable if I am willing to take the pain that comes with saying yes to God. Of course there will be failures and I will lean again and again on the grace of God and return to Him saying, “What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?”
This requires diligence on my part because my old ways are relentless. Will I surrender my will to His moment by moment? Now, you’ll excuse me, there is someone listening to Kenny G and packing a gun I need to befriend.