All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love & trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all.
I surrender all.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
I sang these words in the shower this morning. As I did, a vivid picture came to mind: I was handing things over to God—concerns, situations, people—and as He took hold of them, I pulled them back. I kept telling myself to let go, but I just couldn't—wouldn't. I didn't want to completely take them back… I wanted God's Hands on them, but I wanted mine on them too. Even as I sang, "I surrender all", I couldn't make myself—even just in my little daydream—let go of what I needed to give to Him.
So today I've been pondering surrender, and what makes it so difficult. Here are my thoughts:
- Is it just my imagination…?
Imagination is a fun tool, an amazing gift from God. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world, and every blessing from God can be easily twisted in our brokenness. We use our imaginations to dwell in the past and to worry about the future. The scenarios we imagine cause us to fear surrender to God, but there is an inherent flaw in that thinking. You see, when we imagine something, we are in control, not God. So God is not the one whose control we should be fearing—it's our own control that is scary! J
- Is God good?
One of my favorite bloggers, Angie Smith, writes about the day her world turned upside-down—the day she found out that her precious little Audrey Caroline would likely never see life outside of the womb. Angie's first response was, "I think that my Jesus is the same as He was before I walked into this room." Sometimes our circumstances are bad—sometimes they are unbearable—but God remains good through it all. In fact, He alone is good: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Why would you—why would I—want anyone who falls short to be the person making the calls?
- It's all about me… right?
Are you a parent? How hard is it to surrender your children to God? Many times I have told God, "I give my children over to You", only to immediately imagine (hmmmm… there's that word again!) something bad happening to them, just to teach me a lesson or test my level of "surrenderedness". What a selfish view! To think that God would allow harm to my children only to test me assumes that I am more important to God than my children are. Even though I may learn something from a difficult situation that happens with my children, husband, or others that I love, to assume that it is happening solely for my benefit (or punishment) is unrealistic and shows a rather warped view of God and the world.
In Genesis, we learn about a boy named Joseph who is sold into slavery by his own brothers. In fact, they originally intended to kill him—out of jealousy—but were convinced by their youngest brother to merely sell him. Joseph's life goes through a series of twists and turns before he finally ends up predicting a famine, then helping Pharaoh to prepare for it so that the people of the nation do not starve. He is given a position of honor in Pharaoh's court. He is essentially put in charge of the entire nation of Egypt! And before long, Joseph's brothers are among the many who come looking for food. (To find out Joseph's full story, read Genesis 37-48.) When Joseph finally tells his brothers who he is, look at how he comforts them: "And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." (Genesis 45:5) He doesn't say, "Don't be distressed, because look at how successful I am now!" It wasn't all about him—God had a plan to use this man in great ways for the whole nation, but it had to start with a young boy being thrown into an empty well.
And after I spent so long thinking of why I struggle with surrender, I realized how ironic it is to struggle at all. Surrender isn't a duty—it's a gift. I hold on to my worries, thinking "What if something happens to Jon? To the kids?" I think, "What if the economy doesn't get better and we lose our house or the business—or both?" I worry about relationships, about money, about plans for the future. But does refusing to give those things over to God mean that they're not going to happen? Of course not. As Jesus says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27) God allows us to surrender, so that we can be free from worrying about things that are not in our control.
Surrender isn't really about giving up control—because we don't really have control anyway. Surrender doesn't mean that bad things are less likely—or more likely—to happen. Surrender is about taking a deep breath, giving up our worries, and trusting the One who is in control, the One who is good, the One who sees the big picture.
I surrender all.