Pastoral Commentary: Heavenly Father, help us surrender to you
Lent is the time of year when we are encouraged to give up something to remember what Christ gave up for us, but what do we gain in giving up? Well, Psalm 37:7 says: “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” To ‘be still’ means to be both quiet and still without movement. In other words surrender yourself to the LORD, but surrendering to God isn’t passive resignation, fatalism, or even an excuse for laziness. And it’s certainly not accepting the status quo. Actually, it may mean just the opposite. You may need to sacrifice yourself, your way of living in order to change what needs to be changed.
God calls only surrendered people to do battle on His behalf. So surrendering is not for cowards. Surrendering is best demonstrated by obedience. It’s saying, ‘Yes Lord’ to whatever He asks of you. To say, ‘No, Lord’ is a contradiction. I mean, how can you call Jesus ‘Lord’, and then refuse to obey Him? Remember in Luke 5:5 after a night of failed fishing, Peter demonstrated true surrender when Jesus told him to try again. “Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Surrendered or obedient people obey God even when it doesn't make sense, and when you do the rewards can be awesome! Abraham followed God without knowing where it would take him. Hannah waited on God’s timing without knowing when. Mary expected a miracle without knowing how. Joseph trusted God’s purpose without knowing why circumstances happened the way they did. Each one of them was fully surrendered to God.
So you ask, ‘When will I know I’m fully surrendered?’ Well you will know when you can rely on Him to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, or force your own agenda, or control the situation. You simply let go and let God realizing you don't have to be in charge.
Amazingly when we surrender to the LORD we discover there are benefits to be received. James 4:7 tells us, “Submit [surrender] yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Knowing and trusting this brings about the first benefit you will experience and that is peace. Job 22:21 tells us “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way good will come to you.”
Secondly, you will experience freedom as Romans 6:22 reminds us “But now you are free from the power of sin and have become servants of [or obedient to] God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.”
The third benefit you experience is power. Stubborn temptations and overwhelming problems that plague you are defeated by Christ, the moment you surrender! As Joshua approached the walls of Jericho he encountered God, fell down in worship, surrendered his plans and cried, “What does my lord say to his servant?” (Joshua 5:14). That surrender led to a spectacular victory.
Now here’s a paradox: victory comes through surrender! Surrender doesn’t weaken you, it strengthens you! When you surrender to God, you don’t have to fear or surrender to anything else. William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, said: ‘The greatness of a man’s power is in the measure of his surrender.’
Eventually everybody surrenders to something! If not to God, you’ll surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, to resentment, to fear, or to your own lusts or ego. You’re free to choose what you surrender to, but you’re not free from the consequences of that choice. E. Stanley Jones said, ‘If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.’ The supreme example of surrender is Jesus. The night before His crucifixion, He surrendered Himself to God’s plan saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Jesus is your example and He is your strength when you trust in Him!
We pray: Heavenly Father, help me to fully surrender my life and all things to you, trusting your love for me to work out all situations in my life; yes, help me to surrender so I can be free to follow you and trust you in all circumstances. In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.