In history people would wave a white flag in battle to say they had surrendered, given up, yielded to the opposition. The war was over, but they were not on the winning side. You can surrender in a card game with a simple “Hey, you’ve won.” Surrender is not often a word with positive connotations and yet it still indicates a choice on the yielding party. You can’t surrender after the battle or argument is lost!!! Marriage is a type of surrender. It is promise to the other party, to love them and remain faithful to them throughout any situation. God also asks us to surrender to Him, to give Him our heart, soul and strength, to surrender to His ways.
Surrendering is a personal thing, cause what the Lord requests of me, is not what He wants of you. Why? People are unique. In Spring Harvest we were told to give our gifts and talents to Him, just as the little boy gave his 5 loaves and 2 fish to Jesus. God will never ask you for something that you don’t have or can’t do. He wants you to give Him what you have. On a good day, I’m am okay artist and recently I produced a range of greeting cards and sent them off to approximately 25 various companies. As I sent them off, I prayed “Lord use this.” I received only one reply, from a company who was interested in Christian cards. They were a secular company but needed baptism, confirmation and ordination cards. At the time when they made this request, they didn’t know I was Christian, but God knew! I was even been asked to recommend biblical verses to put inside each card! I have already sold four designs to this company with the promise of more.
In the parable of the talents the servants who use their talents get given more. The boy who gave his lunch to Jesus saw it multiplied to feed over 5000. Don’t doubt that God can use it, however small and insignificant it appears in your eyes. If God can use a donkey to speak to Baylam or a whale to take Jonah where He wanted him, He can certainly use you. It’s easy to see how God can use our talents and gifting. Why He might want them? They’re the things we are proud of, the stuff we are fairly confident we can do, often the things we enjoy most. It was easy for me to see how God had the potential to use my art, but often what God is asking appears inconsequential in our eyes, like when I sit for 45 minutes listening and trying to act interested while my sister whitters on about guinea pigs. She composes Christmas Carols about carrots and celery sticks and I get to be the priviledged one to hear the first rendition of these master pieces. I sometimes, wonder why God? How can You be asking me to do this? Isn’t there something better I could be doing with my time – couldn’t You ask me to put on a superman outfit and save the world from nuclear destruction or at the very least let me hold a meaningful conversation. People are always looking for something big, something showy that people will see, something worthy of their trouble. We want to be asked to make the big sacrifise, which human logic says, should come with a great reward. We want to leave a legacy behind us, to leave our hand-print in the cement of this world, to have people say “I’ve been changed, because I knew you.” There’s nothing showy about listening to guinea pigs exploits – how Mango has discovered how to jump on to her hay house and Moo was caught aiming to chew threw the telephone wire again. What I am doing is giving my sister time, and by giving it to her, I am giving it to God. In Matthew 22, we are instructed to “love your neighbour as yourself” and we are told that whatever we do for others in His name, (even if it’s just handing them a glass of water) we are doing it for God.
The times, which I struggle most are when I feel that I’ve not surrendered, because the choice has been taken completely out of my hands. You know the situations I’m talking about – when you’ve done everything in your power to get somewhere or do something, but for some reason, it just wasn’t meant to be. I remember applying for Christmas work in Monsoon and I succeeded in getting an interview. I dressed smartly, got into Swansea a good hour or so before the interview so took the opportunity to wondered round the shops. I ended up, breaking my ankle and being carted off to hospital. Surprisingly, I didn’t get the job in Monsoon. When this sort of incident hits, I get so frustrated! I worry about what the unseen people in Monsoon think of me, for not turning up for my interview, but it’s not my fault!!! I did everything I could. I feel the Lord coaxing me to “give it to Me.” My reply is usually an angry version of; “Lord, what is there left to give? It’s already out of my hands.” Of course, what He wants me to do is to quit worrying about it, to stop my internal turmourl and just allow His peace in. The Christian life has the potential to be tranquil, ”My yoke is easy, ” I but our human nature often makes it complicated and burdensome, “My burden is light.” Jesus tells us to surrender our worries and cares on Him, however we repeatedly choose to carry these burdens.
I wouldn’t regard myself as a control freak – which to me indicates you like to control others, but I do like to be self-controlled. In control of what I do with my own time, in my diet, my emotions. If the choice is taken out of my hands, I panic and my automatic reaction is to rebel. Try and persist along my previously chosen path even though it’s been obviously blocked. One of the lines to a Casting Crowns songs which always strikes me like a hammer is “How close can I get Lord, to my surrender, without loosing my control?” Now logically this question is almost a contradiction in terms. If you’ve yielded to God, then you shouldn’t be in control. However I know I am guilty of thinking like that. I want to do the right thing – to give myself, heart, soul and strength to the Lord, but that means exchanging my dreams for His. Giving up my rights. My possessions. Me.
In Mark 10, the rich man asks Jesus, “Good teacher, What must I do to gain eternal life?” and Jesus replies, “You know the laws. You must not murder, steal or commit adultery. Do not lie and honour your father and mother.” “All of these I’ve have obeyed since I was a boy.” It says that Jesus looked at Him. I don’t think it was a passing glance either, Jesus saw right into this man’s soul. “Go sell everything you have and give it to the poor, then come follow me.” If we say yes to God on small matters, then He will put larger challenges in your path. Each time, we have a choice to make, say “Yes” or “No.” Go our own way or His. The man was told to surrender your riches. That’s what the man was told to do “and the man walked away…sadly!” Sadly, because he knew that he was missing out! He knew that if he did what Jesus requested and gave up his fortune, his life would be transformed and yet he couldn’t do it. I actually sympathise with that rich man greatly. I wonder how often he regretted that spur of the moment decision to walk away from Jesus. I get the feeling he was being asked completely sacrifise who he was. The characteristic which people would initially think of, when they first thought of him. Being “rich” is the only description the gospel writers give us of this person. If Jesus had asked him to work for a couple of hours in a charity shop every week or give even a percentage of his money a way, he may well have said “yes,” and that would have been a step in the right direction, but that’s not what God wants.
When I was small, I used to consistently forget to shut my wardrobe door, which my mum wanted closed because it made my whole room look untidy. At the age of 13, she finally won that battle for good, because I discovered that if I kept it shut, I could hide mess and other incriminating evidence inside. Most homes, however tidy they appear, have a back room, filing cabinet, or cupboard under the stairs where the door remains perminently locked. What this room contains is personal to the you, chipped crockery, back issues of the radio times, clothes that you haven’t fit in for 7 years, but will do so one day. Stuff that we know we should have thrown away years ago, but have kept hold off, because it’s too much of a mammoth job to go through it.
We have things in our lives like that. Stuff that we know we are clinging on to, which should have been chucked out or given to God, but it’s too hard, too scary, too painful to sort out. It’s stuff we depend on to get us through the ups and downs of existence. Stuff we do and go to before we God. In this society of coach potatoes, people tend to look upon fitness as a good thing. I loved and still do love to exercise when I can. I get hooked on the adrenelin and high it gives me. I used to run, finding the breathlessness and pain in my muscles to be an adequate distraction from whatever I am going through. The gym was my first port of call in times of problems, but it was damaging me. I was severely underweight and the constant exercise might have weakened my bones. God wants to be that. If something is damaging us and getting in the way of our relationship with God, then why not just give it up? It’s become a habit. Something you’ve done for so long, that you’ve almost convinced yourself that it’s alright, that it’s not a sin, that your not holding back from God.
That’s how the devil works, telling you what you’re doing is okay, making you question what you know to be true. He asked Eve “Did God really tell you not to eat from the tree?” With this question, he affectedly gave Eve the license to do what she wanted. We know how powerful this sort of suggestion can be. Dieters can persuade themselves that broken biscuits don’t contain any calories, that drinks don’t count towards their calorie intake or that a chocolate orange is good for them because of the vitamin C content. God does notice our mistakes and the whole human race paid heavily for Eve’s refusal. Her “No” to God in what I perceive as, such a little thing. Jesus does not go lightly on sin. He knows the affects of sin – He experienced the sin of the whole world. Jesus says “if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and if your hand causes you to sin cut it off, for it is better for you to enter the Kingdom of Heaven without a part of your body than to be thrown into Hell.” Do whatever you have to, to get away from sin.
I know how hard it can be to give those things up, but more importantly God does. Jesus was fully human and therefore suffered every temptation we have. He does knows the pulls of this world.
There are times when surrendering to God will actually sorts out the problem. Abraham was asked by God to kill his son – the son who had fulfilled Gods promise. He said “yes” and went about prepare to perform the task. At the last moment, God said “Stop!!!” Another example is Daniel and his friends, being thrown into the furnace for refusing to worship another God. God protected them. The point is that they didn’t know this at the time. Abraham didn’t know God was gonna say “Stop” nor did the guys know that God was going to send an angel to rescue them. They went ahead, knowing they could loose everything! Sometimes God works like this, I’ve known smokers who just quit, without dealing with any of the withdrawl symptoms, but other times you are forced to go through with what you’ve promised. Jesus’ decision to go through the most agnonising death was made in the Garden of Gethsemony, but saying “yes” on that occasion wasn’t enough. He had to go through with what He’d said.
Another reason we don’t surrender this aspect of our lives is Fear of Failure, we are so convinced we will fail that we don’t even try. Give it to God one day at a time. There’s a point in the West Wing where a recovering alcoholic is worried that his job is indanger and the president simply asks him; “Did you have a drink yesterday?” “No.” “Are you planning to have a drink today?” “No.” then the President tells him; “That’s all I ever need to know.” We can’t guarantee we won’t fail ever again, that we won’t fall into that trap, that way of drowning our sorrows again and acknowledging that makes us seem weak. That’s when God can move, when we are aware of our weakness, when we are aware that we cannot do this alone. It takes humility to admit that, but God will help us if we let Him. But surrender isn’t a sign of weakness, it takes courage cause we don’t know what’s in store,
He wants all of us. He asks us just simply to say “Yes.” If my friend asked me. “Helene, if I asked you to do something, would you say yes?” I’d tell her, it would depend on what she wanted. If she’s after a diet coke from the fridge – sure, I’ll get her that. If on the other hand, she wants me to handcuff Russell Crow to the nearest lamppost I’d tell her to do it herself. We are detail orientated people. We want direct answers to specific detailed questions We want to know the How’s? Where’s? When’s? and Why’s? and what the reward is gonna be, before we say “”yes” to things. We treat God the same way. He asks us to say “Yes” to Him and at that point we pause, saying that depends. The problem is… God doesn’t want a conditional “yes.” No employer wants to have to answer a million questions before a job gets done. God wants a yes, based purely on faith, without needing Him to go into the immaterial details, without needing to know anything.
It feels like He’s wants us to say “yes” blindly, but we are not blind. We know who is doing the asking, the God who created the whole universe, the ever consistent one, who knows us inside out and therefore knows how hard this is for us.
If we do say an all blanket “yes” what will we gain. God only knows!! No seriously God only knows. I can’t pretend to know the plan for your life, what God I asking of you or what your reward will be, but I know you can’t loose out. You become someone Christ can use. When you surrender to God, all you are acknowledging is the truth, that everything we do is for His glory and it’s not about us at all. What you consider yours, your talents, your worries, your problems are actually His. You gain a freedom, a peace in your time of troubles and that’s just in this world!!! We gain eternal live, to live forever with God, a reward better than anything we could hope or dream about.
I’d like to finish be reading a hymn which never ceases to challenge me.
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, Will you let my name be known?
Will you let My life be grown in you and you in Me?
Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare, should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in Me.
Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such that is unseen?
And admit to what I mean in you and you in me?
Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith around to reshape the world around?
Through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?