Monday, November 24, 2008

Surrender, pt. 1

I recently re-read a book called Surrender, written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s part of a series of 3 books – the other two being Brokenness and Holiness.
This book made quite a deep impact on my life years ago when I first read it, and the truths in it are still always a huge blessing. The topic of surrender is one that I think is important to talk about. So, I’d like to give a basic summary of this book… talking about what surrender is and what it means for a Christian to surrender all to God. Although I’ll be using lots of quotes from the book, I still urge you to get this book and read it through yourself as it’s absolutely full of important truths and thoughts for application. :)

I want to start by simply looking at what surrender means. In our society today “surrender” is seen as a negative thing… it usually has implications of weakness or ‘giving up’ in a pessimistic way. Our society is always trying to tell us that we have to make our own way, prosper ourselves, be independent and free, etc. Basically, surrender is the opposite of what the world says we ought to live. And yet Christ calls us to surrender to Him:
“The terms of our surrender to the Lord Jesus are non-negotiable and unconditional. What does He ask us to surrender? In a word, everything. Christian surrender means that we come to Him on His terms and say simply, ‘I surrender all.’ We lay down our arms, we hand over everything we have, everything we are, everything we hope to be.”
Yet we fight this with all our might sometimes. There are lots of reasons why we don’t want to surrender, because it’s not easy to surrender! “One of the challenges of complete surrender to Christ is that we don’t know what lies ahead.” But “God says, ‘Here’s a blank piece of paper. I want you to sign your name on the bottom line, hand it back to Me, and let Me fill in the details. Why? Because I am God; because I have bought you; because I am trustworthy; because you know how much I love you; because you live for My glory and not your own independent, self-promoting pleasure.’”
“Surrender to Christ is life-changing… that surrender involves a transfer of allegiance and a transformation of perspective that ought to affect every aspect of our lives.”
As frightening as that may seem to some, the truth is that “surrender is the source and means of true freedom and fullness… to surrender to the Creator’s control is not onerous or burdensome; it is, in fact, the place of blessing, fullness, and peace. …If we will let Him, God will fill in the details of our lives with His incomparable wisdom and sovereign plan, written in the indelible ink of His covenant faithfulness and love.”

But why do we have to surrender? The Scripture says that “from the moment we were conceived, we were at war with God (Psalm 51:5).” We want to be in control… “beneath the surface, every human being has an inborn determination to run his own life and an unwillingness to be mastered by Christ, the King of kings.” We think we know best and we think we can handle everything just fine. And usually we do think we’re doing a great job! “We so easily become desensitized to God’s standards or feel that compared to the world’s standards we are doing fine.” And yet, as DeMoss reminds us, “If you claim to be a follower of Christ while living in denial about certain areas of your life that are not pleasing to Him, you are not living a fully surrendered life, no matter how many people may think of you as a ‘good Christian.’”
The fact is that we’re not in control, we can’t rule our own lives, and we’re not as invincible as we think we are. This is why surrender to God is vital. He’s the One in control: “God exercises His sovereign control over the universe because He is the only one capable of running the universe. Inherent in His being is absolute sovereignty – the right to rule. He is the Creator – we are His creatures. He is eternal – we are finite. He is all-powerful – we have no power of our own. He is autonomous, independent, and self-existent, needing no one and nothing – we are dependent on Him for our next breath (Acts 17:24-25).”

So, what if we don’t surrender? What if we just want to keep living as we were and doing what we’re doing? Actually, many people do just that. But in the end, everyone will surrender, whether they want to or not, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Without complete surrender to Him in our lives here on earth we won’t be prepared or willing to bow the knee in the end. And meanwhile, in our lives now, “there can be no peace with God, nor can there be peace in our hearts, apart from unconditional surrender. Refusing to surrender merely compounds our losses; delayed surrender only prolongs the conflict.” “As long as we refuse to surrender our will to the will of God, we are never truly free. Rather, we find ourselves dominated by ungodly appetites and forces.”

You see, surrender isn’t a negative thing and it certainly doesn’t mean we’re weak minded. In fact, living without this surrender is the negative. When we do surrender, a huge transformation takes place, and instead of having the negative implications the world may assume, it accomplishes the opposite:
“Once a lifetime surrender has been made, many of our battles will be much less difficult to fight, because the outcome – Jesus is Lord – has already been established. That fundamental acknowledgement of His sovereign right to reign and rule over us will serve us well as our allegiance to the King is tested on a daily basis.” And, “in surrendering to Him, we finally see the ‘surpassing value’ of Christ over all that the world ever could have given us (Philippians 3:8).”

But surrender to Christ doesn’t just end at that one commitment… it’s an ongoing thing. “Having surrendered our lives to Christ as Saviour and Lord, we must now learn what it means to live out a surrendered life – to continually say no to self, and yes to God.” As both initial and ongoing, it is “a surrender that is made once and for all, as well as daily, recurring sacrifice of our lives to God. Our initial surrender to Christ is the launching pad for a lifetime of continual surrender and sacrifice. Now, on a daily, perpetual basis, we are called to live out that consecration, by responding to the various circumstances and choices of life in obedience and surrender to His will.”
Along with thinking of ‘surrender’ is the thought and picture of a slave. Now, if ‘surrender’ is a negative word, ‘slave’ is one unthinkable to apply to ourselves in today’s society. In fact, even in many Bible translations they have changed the word ‘slave’ to ‘servant’ because it doesn’t give quite as much negative connotations. “A servant is defined as ‘a person employed to perform services for another.’ A slave, on the other hand, is a ‘human being who is owned as property by, and is absolutely subject to the will of another.” And yet we see again that when applying this word to our lives in Christ, it’s not negative in any way… “It is absolutely appropriate that human beings should choose to be the slaves of the Lord Jesus, whom they love and long to serve for all their lives.”
DeMoss shares personally, that she has “come to believe that there is no greater calling to be marked as His slave – to choose to give my life in the service of the Master I have grown to know and love and trust.”

This isn’t just a “here and there” surrender… we can’t pick and choose what to surrender, when to surrender specific things, etc. By surrendering all to God we’re not just making a “commitment” or acting as “servants.” No, we are “to offer ourselves as living sacrifices – that is, we are to go on living in these bodies, recognizing that they are not our own, that they belong to God, whose temple we are.” What does it mean to “offer our bodies”? “Offering our bodies speaks of a complete presentation of ourselves to God. It means devoting to the Lord Jesus, not just our ‘spare evenings,’ but ‘the whole of [our] lives.’” … “God’s call to lay down our lives on the altar of sacrifice means that we give Him all that we are – our rights, our reputation, our desires, our future plans; everything that concerns us – first, for a lifetime, and then, day by day, moment by moment, decision by decision.”

(Tomorrow – pt. 2: Why we hesitate to surrender)

1 comment:

LouAnne said...

Thanks, Jessica, for reminding me of the necessity of surrender.