As a follower of Jesus Christ, do you live a life of absolute surrender?
Is there any area of your life in which you have tried to maintain some degree of control? Before you answer these questions too hastily, here is a simple litmus test. Do you often find yourself anxious, unsettled, or restless? If so, you have likely failed to cast all of your cares upon the Lord, as 1 Peter 5:7 teaches. Anxiety and restlessness are indicators of unsurrendered areas in your life. Instead of letting go and handing your cares and worries over to Jesus, you have taken matters into your own hands.
Here is another litmus test that will indicate your level of surrender to the Lord. Are you willing to release your grip on any part of your life for the sake of the Kingdom of God? If the calling of God upon your life required you to leave your comfortable place and change all of the plans you have devised, would you still be willing to answer the Call? Imagine that God called you to change your occupation, to move to another country, or to let go of certain friendships. Would your heart be hesitant to follow His prompting?
In order to understand the necessity of absolute surrender, here is a metaphorical illustration to consider. Imagine you have just purchased a house. At closing, after all the paperwork has been finalized, you proudly hold aloft the keys to your new abode. Later in the week you move all of your boxes into the house, eager to begin the new chapter in your life. The next morning, after you have just spent your first night in your new home, the previous owner of the house suddenly shows up at the doorstep. When you open the door, the previous owner steps into the house, makes his way into the kitchen and simply says, “Don’t mind me. I’m just going to make myself a quick breakfast.” Puzzled, you kindly remind your guest that you have signed documents to prove that he sold the house to you, to which he replies that he intended to sell you most of the house, while retaining control of a few of the rooms. To your bewilderment, he casually informs you that he wants to continue using the kitchen whenever and however he wishes. Moreover, he wants to make it clear that you are not to remodel the bathrooms or the bedrooms, as it took him many years to fashion those rooms exactly to his liking.
How would you respond in such a bizarre scenario? Would you, as the new owner, allow for such an arrangement? Of course not! So, if you would agree that this scenario is absurd, why would you try to retain control over any portion of your life – be it your dreams, your ambitions, your relationships, your talents, or your career – if your life now belongs to the Lord as His purchased possession? According to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, you are no longer your own, “for you were bought at a price” [NKJV]. What was the price? You were purchased with the Precious Blood of Jesus. Through His Redemptive Work, you entered into a Covenant with Him, and you became His! (See Ezekiel 16:8).
Absolute surrender, then, is nothing short of giving over to Jesus everything that already belongs to Him by right of purchase.
In 2 Corinthians 5:15, the Scripture says that Jesus “died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” [NKJV]. When Jesus gave His life for you, did He hold any part of Himself back from you? No! So why would you withhold anything from Him. There is absolutely no part of Him that is off limits to you, so why would you give Him anything less that 100% access to your heart, your life, and your being?
Perhaps you have heard people say that you ought to give God your very best. But did you know that giving Him your very best is not enough? He does not simply want your best. He wants your best and your worst – He wants all! Imagine your heart as a handbag. One by one, you pull out the contents therein and give them over to Jesus. At length, you discover that you have given nearly everything to Him, but there are a few small items that you are loath to relinquish. In such a case, have you surrendered fully? No!
In fact, surrender is more than simply giving Him the contents of your heart; true surrender means to give Him your heart, itself, in its entirety!
Returning to our illustration of the purchased house, are there ‘rooms’ in your proverbial ‘house’ that you have forbidden Him to remodel? Have you found yourself saying, “Yes, Lord, my life belongs to you; do with me as you will, but do not remove this particular relationship from my life”? Or else, you may have said, “Yes, Jesus, I am yours, but don’t ask me to leave the city where I am living.” Maybe you have already drawn up the manner in which you are going to use your God-given gifts and talents, but you never even took the time to seek out His Purpose and design for those gifts.
In Proverbs 16:9, the Scripture reveals a profound truth, declaring that “a man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” [NKJV]. Though the Lord indeed gave you the capacity to make plans, He did not design you with the ability to direct your own steps. Such is the message of Jeremiah 10:23, where the prophet wrote, “It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” [NKJV]. Therefore, from Scripture, it is evident that the Lord created you with the ability to make plans, but He reserves for Himself the right to order your steps. While it is clear from Jeremiah 29:11 that all of His purposes for you are only for your good, never to harm you, there will be many occasions in which the steps that He has ordered for you do not match the plans that you have devised for yourself. At the end of the day, then, it all comes down to this question: Are you willing to surrender your plans to His Purpose?
In Romans 12:1, the Apostle Paul speaks of being a “living sacrifice” as your “reasonable service” to the Lord [NKJV]. Being a living sacrifice is your reasonable service because, as previously noted, you already belong to Jesus by right of purchase. Therefore, it is simply reasonable for you to give Him total control over that which rightfully belongs to Him anyway! Learn to walk as a living sacrifice. Part of being a living sacrifice is allowing God to be the Author and Perfecter of your life story. Maybe at some point in your life, you have usurped the pen from His Hand and tried to be the author of your own life, purpose, or destiny. If you do so, you will write yourself into a mess, because you are only capable of writing according to your own understanding and what seems right to your natural mind. Nevertheless, at any point you can surrender the pen back over to Him. Though He will not erase what you have written, He will apply the Power of Grace and Redemption and write you out of your mess and into victory!
David wrote, in Psalm 139:16, “…in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” [NKJV]. Note the poetic imagery of this passage. David is speaking, in a proverbial or metaphorical sense of God’s Book, in which God had written all and fashioned the days of David’s life. Essentially, David is saying: Yes, God, these are my days, and this is my Life story, but it is Your Book, and I acknowledge that You are the Author. Let God be the Author of your life story. While it may not look the way you would have drawn it up, when all is said and done, you will be amazed at the brilliant masterpiece that He has fashioned.
But you have to trust Him enough to relinquish all control over to Him. Once your heart trusts Him, full surrender becomes easy. Learn to trust Him, and choose to surrender to Him.
Release your grip on your life, and hand everything over to Jesus. Give Him the good and the bad. Give Him your strengths and your weaknesses. Give Him your hopes and your fears. All of your gifts and talents are seeds in your hand. If you clinch the seed in your hand, you will still have possession of it, but it will be unable to produce and maximize its potential. If, however, you release the seed to the ground and let the seed die, it will bring forth more fruit than you can begin to imagine, fruit that will reproduce after its own kind so that ultimately, the life on the inside of that seed will outlive you. But you must release it in full surrender if it is ever to germinate (see John 12:24-25). Nothing short of absolute surrender will enable you to fulfill your purpose to its maximum potential. Make a decision today to surrender any area to the Lord where you have not yet given up control. Today is a perfect time to start.
Are you ready? He is waiting for you!