Surrender, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 30, 2020 1 comments

by Steve Risner

Surrender. This isn’t a word most find appealing, but I’d like to share some things concerning it with you today and next week. Recently in a prayer meeting, a man from a local church stood and prayed a prayer very similar to a prayer I’d had on my heart for some time. That prayer centered on surrendering all to the Lord. It was a beautiful prayer. He was much more eloquent than I would have been and more so than I will be in the paragraphs to follow, I’m sure. My hope is that you can take something away from this to better your walk with the Lord.

He began by saying that we don’t actually need more of God in our lives. I thought that was interesting. But he went on to say we need to surrender more of ourselves to the Lord and there will be more opportunity for God to work in and through us. I've often heard God described as a gentleman - He won't force Himself into your life if He's not welcome. This is what that portion of his prayer was getting at. If we give God a little piece of our heart, He won’t do much in our lives. If we give Him more, He'll be more present.

We see this throughout the history of the nation of Israel. When they were all in, He was all in. When they sought help from some other place or worshiped other gods, He removed Himself from them. Over the course of a believer's life, as we mature (or IF we're maturing) in our faith and grow closer to the Lord, we sacrifice more, we give more, we're more conscious of God's working and moving, and we are more open to His leading. This can all be summed up in the word surrender. This is a struggle every believer deals with for his or her entire walk with the Lord. We can always surrender more. As we surrender more, He fills in those areas that we've given up to Him.

I can see how this would mean we have more of God in our lives. However, the real deal here is that we've given more space to the Lord, so His moving, leading, and power in our lives is more easily seen and made manifest. It's really less of us. He's given us all of Himself already. We can join John the Baptist in saying, “He must become greater; I must become less.” All the while, God may very well have been moving or speaking to us, but we hadn't given Him the ear we needed to hear Him. This changes as we surrender more.

“God didn't just rent the attic. He bought the whole house.” This was one statement made during this prayer of surrender and it spoke to me. What a great description of so many of us! We have God in our heads—we know of Him, we may even know Him personally, but He's never made it to the rest of our lives because we've let Him stay in the attic, and we've locked the doors to the rest of the house. He paid the price for it all, not to have a piece but to have the whole thing. Our lives should be His.

James 4:7 tells us to “Submit yourselves, then, to God.” Then the result of surrendering to the Lord and not giving in to our flesh or the enemy is stated: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” As we surrender ourselves to the Lord, we give up those fleshly desires and it becomes easier to resist the devil. As we resist him, he runs! We submit to God, and we resist the devil. In Proverbs, it's beautifully said: “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways.” God isn't interested in anything before He's interested in you. He wants your heart—all of it—and He can do amazing things with you. But if we hold back something, His presence in our lives is diminished. It's only after we've given Him ourselves that He will happily accept those other things we want to give Him.

In Mark 12:29-30, Jesus is quoting Moses when He says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord alone is God. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” God is not ambiguous here. He doesn't say He's satisfied with some of us or a part of us or even most of our hearts. He wants it all. He references every aspect of our existence: our inner person and our physical body. In fact, the first of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” He wants nothing before Him. He wants nothing between us and Him—no distractions, no competition, nothing.

How do we NOT give God everything? How do we not surrender when we know it's the right thing to do? Due to a lack of trust (a lack of faith in His care for us), we hold back. There may be other reasons, but I feel this is a big one. We give Him pieces of our lives that are not really difficult to surrender. We surrender things that we can do without anyway. We may offer Him something that others can see so we benefit not from God's blessings but from the praise of men. We've all done it. We've all done the right thing for the wrong reasons. Resist this! It's not easy.

Or, we give Him the stuff that seems like it's what Christians do. We go to church on Sunday. We might listen to Christian music on occasion. We pray before some meals or when we're in trouble or have a loved one in trouble. We might give a few bucks here and there to help out. We give out of abundance (whether time or money) but not when it really counts or really hurts. If we go to church and spend a minute in prayer for each meal and, say, once or twice a week because we need help, we're looking at about 2 hours of our week. What about the other 166 hours of the week? Okay, so you're sleeping for 56 of those, give or take. But we're looking at a small portion of actual time that we sacrifice to the Lord. What's keeping you from fully surrendering? Is He on your mind most of the time? Are you talking with Him throughout your day? Are you looking for ways to bless others in His Name or to share Him with others? Are you thanking Him for those blessings He gives throughout your day?

Or, we give God the junk and keep the rest. We offer up our sufferings and our hurts, our problems and pain, but we forget about Him when we're not in the valley. When we're on the mountain top and life is going well, we forget about Him. He deserves our attention, our time, and our resources all the time, not just when we're in trouble.

Why? What's the big deal? If I give God some of my time, some of my heart, some of my life, isn't that enough? Can't He do amazing things with something so small? Of course, God is capable of doing whatever He likes, but He wants your participation and your heart. He's worthy of all we can give Him and so much more. We owe a debt to Him we can't possibly begin to pay. The highest praise isn't enough to glorify Him. The most dedicated life falls short. But this shouldn't hinder us or discourage us from giving Him all of us. It should push us to lay it all down because He's worthy of that and He deserves it and so much more. He gave Himself for us—He gave up every last drop of blood for us. He left heaven's glory and came to the earth as a humble child, born in very unimpressive circumstances to live a perfect life in harmony with the Father, teaching us His ways, and then dying a terrible death for our rebellion against God. He gave us all of Himself willingly and, according to the Apostle Paul, He did this while we were still at war with Him. Paul writes, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” How awesome is that!

My question is this, and I think about this often: if you've truly encountered Jesus Christ and have even a tiny bit of understanding of what He's done for you and what you should receive (death and hell) versus what you will receive (heaven’s glory and His presence) as His disciple, how can you not actively pursue surrendering more to Him? Likewise, if this is true, how can you keep quiet about the Good News? I'm not suggesting we all should be pastors or preachers, but I am suggesting that, just as Christ said and as the Apostle Paul modeled for us, we should be telling others as we go about our business. Christ said that, “As you go, make disciples...” What this means is that if we truly get what the deal is—what we deserve because we are like every other human being (a terrible sinner) and what Christ gave up, suffered, and accomplished for us while we still deserved death and hell and where we will spend eternity solely because of His work for us—we'll openly and freely talk about our faith and live out that faith in front of anyone we meet. Jesus deserves such devotion and commitment, and those He died for need to hear it and know it.

That's where we'll leave it this week. Next week we'll continue on this topic and explore why God is worthy of our total surrender and what sorts of things we may be holding back from Him—things that may be hindering His power and presence in our lives. Thanks for reading and be blessed.

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Steve Risner said...

Another great example of God being there or working in our midst without our knowledge is the story of Jacob and his dream of the staircase that ascended to heaven. In Genesis 28:10-19, we see Jacob using a rock for a pillow. He fell asleep and had a dream about angels coming and going on a staircase and the Lord Himself standing there, blessing Israel right there where he was sleeping. He awoke and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place and I was unaware."

This is much like the believer who isn't very in tune with the Lord--they've not surrendered fully to Him--so although He may speak to them or be working in their lives, they are unaware and pay no attention.

Let's try to be in tune with the Lord and His working in our lives. Hearing His voice is important and heeding His Word and responding to it is critical. Thanks, again, for reading.