The Way of Surrender
by Anna Brubaker
In the last few months, God has asked me to surrender some pretty big dreams and desires. I struggled for weeks about one dream.I did not want to surrender it. I allowed myself to be miserable for days until I realized i would not know true peace until I was willing to surrender. Just as God promised, peace flooded my soul when I finally gave in and surrendered my dream.
The experience got me to thinking about surrender. I had to wonder why surrender seemed to be so hard. Should it be that hard? Someone gave the example of surrender as gripping onto our small, dirty teddy bear, while God is holding a big, plush teddy bear behind His back just waiting to give it to us. But this does not seem like a good analogy as I am sure that we all have had experiences where we seemingly found no big teddy bear when we surrendered.
One reason that makes surrendering hard is in direct connection with our view of God. Larry Crabb says, "When I am convinced that God is not good, I will quietly but with tight-lipped resolve take over responsibility for my own well-being." If we are not sure that God will come through for us, it is going to be really hard to surrender our dreams, desires, goals, job, family, future, etc. I was challenged in my struggle to surrender these past months because my concept of God and what He does with my surrendered desires was misshaped.
Too many times, my view of God and surrender is that He asks me to give up what I want so badly because He does not want it to come between my relationship with Him. While that is true, if you take it too far, you miss the heart of God. It felt to me like surrender meant giving up those desires forever. Once I surrender, they are gone. At times, I view God as a harsh school master that makes me surrender things once they get too important to me. When I give them to Him, He throws them away, so they will not get in the way again. If that is our view of surrender, it is no wonder we struggle to surrender.
I felt God gently speaking to me during those months and challenging the way I view surrender. I knew in order to understand surrender fully, I must first understand who God is and what His character is like.
I found it interesting that when I went to do a verse search on surrender, the word "surrender" is not in the Bible. However, the concept comes through very clear. One example of many is found in Genesis 22 where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. In verse three, we learn that Abraham rose early in the morning to leave. He did not hesitate. God told him to do something and he obeyed. Abraham could do what God asked him to do because he knew God's character and he knew without doubt that God would keep His promises. Did it make sense to kill his son? I am sure not, but Abraham was willing to do it because God asked him. He was so confident in God's faithfulness that he even told his servants that he and the boy would come back to them.
Jesus is our perfect example of what surrender looks like. In Mark 14:36, Jesus says, while in Gethsemane, "Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet, not what I will but what you will." Jesus struggled to surrender to the cross. His battle was so fierce that he sweated drops of blood. In His humanness, the thought of the pain and the weight of the sins of the world on Him looked unbearable. Christ had the power to reject the cross, but out of His great love for us, He surrendered. It cost Him His life, but through His death we can have life. Jesus' surrender did not come without struggle, but He still surrendered in spite of what it would cost.
In our humanness, surrender will be hard because it will be sacrificial. But when we truly seek to understand the nature and character of God, surrender could actually turn into a time of joy and worship. Instead of making us miserable, it can lead us to the heart of God. Numbers 23:19 is a wonderful reminder that God will do what He has said, "God is not a man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?" God longs to do something in our lives that we could never dream of, but it starts with surrendering our lives and wills to Him.
Surrender is also hard because we are afraid of the price it may cost us. Someone told me she was afraid to surrender her whole life to God because He might send her to Africa, and she certainly did not want to go to Africa. Living for Jesus does come with a cost. Luke 9:23-24 reminds us that we need to deny ourselves daily and follow Jesus. Jesus tells us that if we try to save our life, we will lose it, but if we surrender our life to Him, we will save it. Surrendering our lives to God may mean going to Africa or somewhere else we do not desire to go, but if we are not willing to surrender to God, He cannot use us, and we are not fit for His kingdom.
Just as we need to have the right view of God, we also need to have the right perspective of our dreams and desires. Our dreams, longings, and desires come from God Himself. He is the one who created us in a way that we experience desire. It is what we do with those desires that can make them wrong. It is God's heart that the desires He gave us lead us to Him. Since our desires come from God, He has the power to fulfill those desires. If I do not allow Him to be in control of those desires, they will lead me away from God.
God gives us desires, and He has said that they are good. But He also asks us to surrender those desires to Him. He wants to be in control of our desires and give them to us when and if they are a part of His will. Instead of being a strict schoolmaster who wants to spitefully control everything, He is a kind and loving Father, who sees the whole picture. I believe it is His heart to give us the desires of our hearts, but since He sees the complete picture, He knows what is best and what we really need. He asks us to surrender, not to hurt us, but to protect us. He loves us, and if he does not give the surrendered desire back, it is because He has something even better for us. God wants to take our small dreams and turn them into something bigger. I think so many times as Christians, we settle for something less because we are not willing to surrender our dreams, longings, and desires to God.
Galatians 5:24 tells us that, "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lust." When we give our lives over to God, we are giving up our "right" to control how our life goes. Instead of "I" on the throne, it is now God who sits on the throne. It is now God who fulfills our desires and shows us which way to go.
When I started to think of God as a kind and loving heavenly Father, who understands why it is so hard for me to give up my dreams and longings, the idea of surrender took on a different picture. When I started to visualize Him gently taking my desires and fitting them into His bigger picture for me, surrender ceased being a burden and bloomed into something that brought freedom. When I gain an accurate view of God, I can rest in the knowledge that the desires He gives me are good. When I allow Him to give and take as He sees best, I can be assured that in His timing and His way, He will give me the desires of my heart. It is then that I can find the joy and freedom of complete surrender.
Anna Brubaker is a country farm girl who lives in Pennsylvania. Her heart's desire is to know God and to live a surrendered life that brings honor and glory to Him. Some of the things that make her heart come alive are spending time in nature, good chats with friends, adventures of all kinds, and spending time with her nieces and nephews. In her spare time she enjoys writing or relaxing with a good book and a cup of chai or sweet tea. She would love to hear from you and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.