“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
When the topic of full surrender to God comes to mind do you feel a tightness in your stomach or a feeling of liberation and freedom? Does it invoke feelings of loss of personal control and decisions over one’s life, or a release to put someone else more qualified in the driver’s seat of your life?
Ironically you may be surprised at how many acts of surrender you do daily, and you are glad to do so. Imagine your morning commute to work as you share the road with other cars and people who are busy rushing along to work as well. The car in front of you suddenly comes to a complete stop. In that moment you have some decisions to make.
You can completely surrender your desire and will to keep moving along unhindered and apply brakes and come to a complete stop. Or not surrender your desire and continue moving forward until you experience a rear end collision. The choice is clearly yours, with the outcome solely determined by your willingness to surrender your desires.
Understandably our culture emphasizes independence and self-reliance and does not look favorably on the surrendering of our will to another. The world tells us to map out our future, plan, and grind it out to make it happen. It is not easy to give control away, but that is exactly what God asks us to do. He does not force or make demands.
He wants us to trust Him and surrender to His will and way of thinking. If we agree, God will equip us, lead us, and multiply our efforts. He promises that He will give us abundant life. For some, the problem is, we think that we have an abundant life now, while still holding on to our will and desires. We would rather hold tightly to what we have than to trust the unknown. The bottom line is, we must be willing to be obedient even when we feel reluctant. Most certainly it is easier said than done.
Understanding Ownership Is The Beginning Of Surrender
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” 1 Corinthians 6:20. NKJV
To gain a full understanding of surrender we need to know who we are surrendering to, why we are surrendering and what does it look like.
It may come as a surprise to you that you do not have complete ownership of yourself as a person. Even the good works that you do are in fact his works that he has assigned to you. Regardless of if you are a Christian or not you belong to God by virtue that he created you.
I think the very idea that someone else has complete ownership of us can be unnerving. God literally owns you and I, and as such he has the right to ask of us to be fully surrendered to him. Problems arise when our definition of surrender are different than his.
When I first started reading the Bible as a teenager, I admit I was very uncomfortable with the term ‘slave’ that appeared countless times as I read from cover to cover. That uncomfortable feeling was probably because of the negative history of slavery and the association of ownership by another flawed human being. I could not understand why God would use this slave and owner analogy to emphasize and teach lessons about surrender.
It took me a long time to give God the benefit of the doubt that he must have a meaning and intention that was vastly different from my perception. Fortunately, it was easy for me to believe that God was a much better slave owner than my human counterparts.
What Does Full Surrender To God Look Like?
“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42 NKJV
Most of us would probably say that we are surrendered to some degree in our lives. Of course, it is easy to surrender those areas of our lives that are not to challenging or costly to us personally.
For some surrender is a matter of giving up an undesirable habit, sin, relationship, or vice. But what about the giving up of something that demands a cost, that you and I are not so willing to pay?
Surrender in the sense of what God desires from us is not easy. It involves giving up our rights, our attitudes, our will, and our desires. The most profound example of this type of surrender is demonstrated by Jesus Christ in the last twelve hours of his life on earth.
Imagine the scene, where you as the beloved Son of God, who has never experienced death can tap all the powers of heaven at your command. You can summons legions of angels to fight on your behalf so that no human on earth can exert their will over you and arrest you or make you do anything you do not want to do.
The onslaught of thoughts come to mind that says, ‘I can get out of this final part of my mission, because after all God my father can do the impossible and figure out a way to save humanity without me dying an unimaginable death on a Roman cross.’
Jesus was faced with the inner turmoil of wanting to do his will, and having his reasonable desires met. It is more than reasonable for him to not want to die, and to escape this final act on earth. No doubt this was the moment when all of Heaven to include Satan looked upon him in wonder of what his next move would be. How would he respond to the greatest test of his will against the desires of God the father?
I have read his response plenty of times and have never quite let the impact of his statement resonate for the profound meaning it really is. I mean how do you get to the point where you can with full confidence and certainty surrender any hint of your will for the complete and total will of God regardless of the cost, even your life?
Let us look again at his moment of total and complete surrender! Make no mistake about it, Jesus Christ in his humanity did not want to die. His humanity wanted to know if there was a way, a loophole that God could use to accomplish the mission without his going to the cross.
Yet he willfully chose to abandon his desire to live for the complete desire and will of God, who wanted him to go the distance, finish the mission and take a cross up the hill outside of Jerusalem, to be crucified.
“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42 NKJV
There is no doubt that a lifestyle of surrender for Jesus began long before that pivotal moment in the Garden of Gethsemane. As a matter of fact, he volunteered to surrender to the mission God had for him long before you and I arrived on this planet.
“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come, In the volume of the book it is written of Me to do Your will, O God.’”
then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, [a]O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. Hebrews 10:7,9 NKJV
How Do We Arrive At “I Surrender All?”
Let’s be honest, when it comes to surrender most if not all of us only surrender the easy parts of our lives. I think if God were to give us a crystal-clear picture or audible sound of exactly what he wants us to surrender to him, we would be astonished and maybe even reluctant or afraid. We have a lot of complex things in our lives that are subject to the battle of surrender to our will or God’s will.
Surrender is a matter of perspective. For a General or Commander of troops on the battlefield, surrender means defeat. For the follower of Jesus Christ, it is the path to victory, and strength for life.
Getting there is not easy, and it requires a daily effort of making little decisions throughout to surrender a little more of yourself to God’s way of thinking and his way of doing things. And yes, if you are anything like me, you will strike out plenty of times.
No problem, stand back up and take another step forward, with a surrendered heart. The more you do this, sooner or later you will realize that the steps you are taking is not on your own strength, but his.
The Benefits Of Surrendering To God
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:19 NKJV
We have such a desire to be strong and self-sufficient that we sometimes forget that we have limitations to the things that we can accomplish. It seems counterintuitive to think someone can be made stronger by becoming weaker.
The first couple of times I read the above verse I just could not make sense of its application. After all isn’t strength in Christ what we all seek after? During the arrest of Jesus and the events that took him to the cross, I realized that his total surrendered will to the desires of the father was replaced by strength from above. He was no longer seeking anything that would hinder what the father wanted him to do.
Standing in front of an accusing mob bent on killing him and not saying a word in his defense was most evident of his will being replaced by the father’s will. Human strength was replaced by divine strength, as though the two go hand in hand. A fully surrendered will, mind and body had been transformed into an instrument for God to use and do whatever he willed.
I find that throughout the Bible many parallels of inner strength are associated with a submissive and surrendered will. Peace and joy and a sense of spiritual rest will accompany a surrendered heart.
It also makes our life choices and decisions a lot simpler because our decisions will be based on the most important aspects of our lives, mainly our service to God.
However, along with the many benefits of a surrendered will, we want to get to the place where we are surrendering our will not for our benefit, but as a sacrifice to God which is his perfect will for us.
“I beseech[a] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your [b]reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1,2 NKJV
Surrendering our will and transformation of our minds will be the acceptable will of God for our personal lives. As such we will be empowered to live a sacrificial life in mind body and spirit.
The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God and will reveal them to us and teach us, but He needs our permission to be taught. That comes from our surrendered minds and will. If we resist, then the Holy Spirit dwelling in us becomes dormant and will not empower us to live victoriously.
Jesus Encourages And Advocates A Surrendered Life
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35 NKJV
It seems like an oxymoron to lose one’s life to save it. Yet, Jesus Christ has stated that the way to find your hidden life that God has willed for you is in surrender of your current life, that you have willed for yourself. Consider all the things that Christ has asked us to be willing to surrender for his sake.
A surrendered life is crucial and necessary to be able to adequately live up to our full potential that God has placed within us. We will have to have a change of mindset to realize that a surrendered life has more rewards than we could possibly imagine.
We must have faith, hope and assurance of his promises, in that Jesus has declared:
“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39
Trust and surrender go hand in hand. If you were struggling to keep from drowning in a lake, your best efforts would fall short over time. However, if a skilled person who has saved countless victims in your situation arrives on hand, you will no doubt surrender your efforts to the hands of the skilled professional to save the day. Your act of surrender is a statement of trust. It says, ‘I trust you to do exactly what you say you can and will do on my behalf.’
The savior of our souls deserves our surrender to his will, because we know he will do exactly what is in our best interest, for our good. The moment we give up ourselves and are willing to lose it all for his sake, is the moment we gain everything!
Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008), A Loving Deception (2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc., and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.
Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate investigator, and professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart. Currently, he is a Road Test Examiner for the State of Massachusetts. Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.