Steps Toward Surrender
Surrender is often perceived as weakness in our culture. I think much of it is because of our society’s obsession with self, and our entitlement mindset. If I don’t get MY way then I’M going to be very upset! It is acceptable to have our lives revolve around ourselves or our closely held ideals. Giving up control is looked on as defeat.
However, from a Christian perspective, surrender is key to developing a relationship with God. It is not about being defeated, but rather about trust. The best way I know how to explain this is through my oldest son Ezekiel’s enthusiasm for baking cookies. He’s always asking if we can bake cookies—always. However, if I left it up to him he’d likely dump all the ingredients in the mixer, stir in a bunch of chocolate chips and candies, put chunks of dough on a cookie sheet, bake them, and then wonder why they didn’t turn out as good as he imagined. You see, there’s a process I must walk him through. I’ve baked hundreds of batches of cookies in my life, so he trusts me to help him get the job done properly. First, we must cream the butter and sugar together, or the cookies will be grainy. We also must mix the wet ingredients before adding the dry ingredients or else the cookies might end up too tough from over mixing. We need to be smart about how much “extra” stuff we add and be aware of how the flavors might taste together, otherwise the cookies could just be a gross mess. And finally, when we make scoops of dough to bake, they must be uniform in size so that the cookies bake evenly. Rushing through the process, or setting the oven to a higher temperature, might get the cookies done more quickly but no one would want to eat them.
Ezekiel both respects my authority and trusts my knowledge. Similarly, if we are wanting to hear direction from God, it makes sense that we must approach Him as a knowledgeable authority. We must trust that His thoughts are greater than our thoughts. We must trust that He has plans for us. We must trust that He is love and He is good. The Bible tells us all of these things—are we taking them to heart? Do we trust that God is working everything for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose? If the answer is a flat “no”, then I’m not sure why you’d want to hear His directions because you obviously wouldn’t follow them if you heard them. However, if the answer is “yes”, or at least “I want to try to learn to trust Him” then continue on!
When I truly trust someone, it’s pretty easy to follow them even if I don’t know where we are going. If my husband says to me, “Amy, I need to take you to this great restaurant—you will love it!”, then I’m getting in the car and going! I don’t need to know where it is or what food they serve—my husband knows good food and he knows my tastes well enough to not take me anywhere too spicy. His plans to take me out to dinner do not include trying to make me sick or leave me hungry at the end of the meal—that would be ridiculous! His plans are for my good and for the good of our relationship.
It takes time and practice to build deep trust, and therefore it takes time and practice to develop the spiritual muscle of surrender. The more closely we are holding something to our chest, the harder it is to surrender it and trust God with it. But we can baby-step our way there with a little discipline and determination. A good first step is this:
Close your eyes and think about your plans for today or tomorrow. Maybe you want to go to the grocery store, maybe you want to catch a nap. Hold out your hands—palms open and upwards. Imagine you are holding these plans in your open hands–whatever is on your personal agenda hold it out to God. Surrender doesn’t mean throwing away everything you care about—it just means holding it loosely enough that God can swap it out with something else if He desires. As you hold out your plans to God, trusting that He is good, go ahead and pray something like this:
Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for the opportunity I’ve been given to accomplish these things I have planned. Thank you for giving me enough energy and time to do what it is that YOU would have me do. Lord, as I continue to go about my day, I want to remember to hold loosely onto my own agenda so that I can be obedient to anything else you’d have me do. Lord, please strengthen my faith in you as I learn to trust you with the things I hold dear. Lord, I surrender these plans I have and I hold them out to you. Do with them as you see fit. Lord, I trust that you are a good and faithful God and I want to know you better. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Praying confidently, even if you don’t “feel” it yet can embolden you to desire this habit of surrender even more. Also, the physical act of holding out your hands really is great. There are many different ways we learn things (hearing it, reading it, doing it, teaching it, etc.) and when we layer on the learning techniques, the more quickly things resonate within us. So holding your hands out, praying out loud (so you hear yourself), telling someone about surrendering (teaching), etc. can truly make a difference. It really brings the abstract non-physical concept of surrender into something more tangible.
This week try to start each day by surrendering your plans. As you grow bolder in your trust in the Lord, begin to give Him even more of your future. Next week we will take this whole surrendering thing to an even deeper level—but in the meantime: taking these baby steps will help develop spiritual muscles that may not be developed yet. Sometimes I surrender something and then have to surrender it all over again an hour later! It’s not a one-time thing, it’s a relationship habit that must be continually worked on and repeated.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Isaiah 55:8-11 “ “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
1 Chronicles 16:34 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”