Before we even broach the topic, we should note the influence the individualism and narcissism of our culture has on our thinking about surrender. Not only that, no one surrenders their lives with ease. We are too precious about our lives – our dreams, our desires, our aspirations. And only naturally so…
The problem is, a reading of ‘the gospels’ and the epistles that takes it at face value would reveal no other way of walking out the Christian journey besides surrender. And in a sense, it is only natural for us to drift away from the right understanding of the Gospel as the surrender of your life. This is something the church does at large, but something which we all do on a daily level. Jesus call to ‘take up your cross daily and follow me’ is something pierces through our culture and its weaknesses, and it pierces through our humanity and its weaknesses. It is the perfect salve.
We have conceived the gospel as something that does not involve the constant giving of our ourselves. We have become a society of the saved, rather than following Jesus to the cross. And so far as we try to declare and live out a cheap and false grace Gospel, we lose the essence of the Gospel and it’s redemptive, unstoppable, freeing power.
I don’t think Jesus ever expects someone to surrender completely and fully the first time. It’s meant to be a beautiful life-long journey of discovery – about self and about a God who wants to be fully given to, and who wants to fully give himself. But several thoughts have helped me in my journey, and continue to help me:
1. We surrender our lives for the reward of Jesus’ own – and in that transaction – we give up so little to gain so much. This is the grace of the gospel. We give up brokenness and ashes to gain life and beauty.
2. We surrender a step at a time. There is room to bargain with God. He is not a tyrant who wants to take everything, but rather a father who is waiting for greater and great trust.
3. To surrender is freedom. To surrender is mercy.
May he give us the grace to give ourselves afresh to the only one who knows how best to lead our lives every day. May he gives us the grace to give more and more of ourselves every day. May he plumb the depths of our hearts, search every nook and cranny and find it surrendered to his good purposes. This is our only hope. This is our only life.