During the prayer of confession at church that morning, the pastor confessed that we claim devotion to Christ, but refuse to surrender our will. Later in the service, the soloist was singing “Lord, Have Your Way.”
Okay, is there a theme you’re showing me here, Lord? Surrender. We usually think of it as something negative. One dictionary defines surrender thus: “to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” Our human nature makes this less than desirable. We don’t like giving up, losing, submitting.
There is an old hymn called “I Surrender All.” I remember being at a weekend conference a few years ago, where the speaker sang the chorus: “I surrender all. All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.” Then he emphatically stated, “Liars!” I can’t tell you how many times I sang that hymn growing up, and how glibly those words rolled from my tongue. The speaker was right. Surrender is easy to sing about, but doing it is another thing altogether. Oswald Chambers described it as “giving up one’s right to oneself.”
The apostle Paul put it this way: “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1) As Paul states it, it is our choice to offer ourselves to God, not something He forces us to do. But oh, how difficult to give up my right to myself! But it’s a spiritual act of worship of God, in gratitude for his mercy, i.e., saving me from my sins. In that case, Lord, I want to surrender myself to your will. I’m giving you permission to use me however you will. Could you please just make me no longer able to sin? I’m giving you permission. I don’t want to sin against you anymore. Just make me so I can’t.
But it doesn’t work that way. We must constantly re-commit our wills to God, and in so doing, grow stronger as Christians, becoming more like God. Theologians call this sanctification—becoming holy. It’s an on-going process that is never complete till we reach heaven. Perhaps that is why Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily [emphasis mine] and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
Lord, please make me aware of the times I fail to surrender to your will. Help me every day, every minute to give to you my right to myself as my act of gratitude and worship. Amen.