Surrender: the goal of the spiritual life is continual surrender.
Daily surrender. Hourly surrender. Perpetual surrender.
I understand. Surrender is not the same as submission. Brennan Manning wrote:
[Submission] is the acceptance of reality consciously, not unconsciously. There is a superficial yielding, but tension continues. Surrender is the moment when the unconscious forces of resistance cease effectively to function. The Christian now no longer evades the call of the Spirit but accepts it.”
I know submission. I am struggling with surrender.
When I started this blog I wasn’t sure where it was going. My friend Neil describes this kind of approach as “organic”. Sounds healthy, doesn’t it? So I didn’t know where it was going but I knew it was going to unveil how God changed a rebel into a friend, a rebellion into a love affair, and forever altered the course of a misguided life. The blog isn’t about me; I’m a nobody. It’s about God and how He orchestrates the mystery of winning the heart of one person. He’s relentless that way.
God is not a fan of lukewarm spirituality. It’s a winner-take-all battle, with everything of value hanging in the balance. When I consider the words of Jesus, I am intimidated. He says our lives are to be all-in or all-out. That’s why surrender is so important, I think. If submission were all that was required, maybe I could do a fair job of that. Maybe. But complete surrender? Oooh, that rubs my ego the wrong way.
As far as I can tell, surrender for Christ-followers does not come as it so often does in life. There is no cry of agony, no despondency of depression, no whimper of defeat. It is a sigh of relief, the sound of heavy burdens dropping to the ground, and a deep inner peace that things are finally as they should have been from the start. Surrender means the rebellion is over, and love has conquered the rebel.
If all that relief is the result, why does surrender take so much focus, time and effort? It must be caused by the sin within; the long-buried taproot of selfishness that drives all our fears, anxieties, bitterness and regret. Paul said he did the things he didn’t want to do, and didn’t do the things he wanted to do – because of the sin within. I want my way, even at the expense of others. Even at the expense of my Jesus. Even when I don’t want to choose my way, I still do.
My hope for real living must lie outside myself, since sin within will occasionally get its head up and cause grief for me and others. My hope must lie in Jesus, who gently carries me from sinner to saved to sanctified to glory. Every other thing interrupts that journey with distraction, deception, darkness. Every non-Jesus choice is rooted in self, and therefore delivers the same old goods: misery, disappointment, disillusion, despair, pain.
It seems my focus should remain on Jesus and the end: glory with Him forever. If I turn my thoughts to Him, as so many songs instruct, the darkness ebbs, the thoughts clear, and the peace grows.
When I don’t choose to do that, the cause is clear: Sin. Selfishness. The choice is mine to make each day:
Jesus or me.
Peace or anxiety.
Surrender to God or to selfishness.