Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
Surrendering might be the most difficult thing. True surrender–the kind where you feel powerless and empowered at the same time. Powerless because everything you’ve believed, everything you’ve fought for and were convinced about, is being laid down. Empowered because surrendering is, in fact, an action. No one can force us into it. No one can make us put up our hands and wave a white flag, even if we convince ourselves we are out of options.
Surrender is an act of will. Our will. Despite obstacles, challenges, hurdles where we can’t imagine a way through, surrendering is still a choice, a way forward.
Surrender doesn’t have to mean a step back.
Surrender is empowerment
The truth is, we can indeed say no to surrender: we can keep running; we can keep resisting; we can keep trying to carry on, do things the way they have always been done. We can fight and push and hold the line. We can be stubborn and prideful, opposed to change. After all, our opinions, our thoughts, our feelings are valid, right? Well, yes, but . . .
Our heart knows when it is time to surrender. No matter the struggle. No matter the cost.
Surrender isn’t easy
I wish surrender were easy. I want it to work like this: I say I will be different and–with a wave of a magic wand–I am different. There. All done. I want the act of surrender to have immediate results, with no pain, no discomfort, no uncertainty about results. I want the choice to surrender to equal the act of surrender. But, yeah, I know it doesn’t work that way.
When it comes to surrender, Jesus got it done
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus chose surrender. He knew the cost; He knew it was worth it.
And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Jesus knew what his surrender involved: torture, humiliation, physical and mental agony, death on a cross. And yet still, He chose it. He gave to God his body, his mind, his heart, his very soul. He did this for the love of the Father. It was surrender that paved the way to Life.
And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak'” (Mark 14:36-38).
Jesus modeled complete surrender, the only surrender that really works. The only surrender that makes any of us different people. The only surrender that makes us free, not ensnared in sin. The only surrender that lets us experience God’s love and the reality of being whole. And Jesus knows firsthand how challenging surrender is, telling his disciples, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Surrender and the Spirit
Our spirit’s willingness and our flesh’s weakness are why our acts of surrender must be acts of the spirit, not the flesh. Our flesh does not want to obey us; it wants to do what it wants to do. It does not want to be corralled, cajoled, reined in, controlled. But the spirit, the breath of God in us, knows what is good. And when we cling to what is good, as Paul urges us in his letter to the Romans (12:9), we are entrusting to God our will, our mind, our body, our soul, our heart.
So even though our flesh resists surrender, the Spirit of God that dwells in us helps us indeed cling to what is true: God’s will, not our own. Jesus reminds us of the power we have in God, and the powerlessness we have without him:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-7).
Surrender begins with abiding in Christ
Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. In Christ, we can do anything. Through the act of surrender, we get to choose Jesus’ life in us, making surrender one of the most powerful weapons we have against the enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus’ surrender led to the death of our sin so that we get to choose surrender for ourselves now–the power of Jesus in us, or the weakness of our own flesh.
What are we going to choose?
Surrender means we get out of our own way
Jesus gave God, his Father, everything. And God gave to Jesus, and thus to the world, everything back. So, sister, though this life is difficult, though we struggle and fall, we can yet surrender, again and again. We can surrender our hearts, our minds, our bodies. We are no longer slaves of our sin, but children of God, alive with the Spirit of God in us.
Surrender? Yep, we can do this.
Surrendering is empowering after all.
Want to surrender together?
Let’s do this. Let’s pay attention to our hearts: How is God inviting us each to surrender? And how can we make this practical?
For me, I am surrendering to God my mind and heart–praying for 40 days that I better honor and respect the opinions and feelings of my family. (I am hoping that the concrete goal of 40 days will help me approach my act of surrender with steadfastness and diligence.)
Want to join me in this step toward saying yes to Jesus today?
Share one thing, in the comments, that you are doing in your act of surrender. And let’s pray for one another, shall we?
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com