Surrender means not only accepting the reality, but also accepting that there’s not a single thing I can do to change that reality.
Surrender, in my mind, often equals giving up. And those who know me well can tell you, I hate giving up. I’m the daughter of southern parents who were themselves raised by a couple of steel magnolia mamas who not only lived through the Great Depression, but carried its lessons with them throughout their journey into grandmotherhood. If you knew the women in my family, you would know that any form of “you can’t / shouldn’t / would never… etc” would be met with a polite smile on the outside while the plan to prove you wrong was already well underway on the inside.
And after experiencing success in whatever they “couldn’t” do, they’d pray for you and bless your sweet little heart.
Let me just summarize the example of womanhood I grew up with real quick:
- A grandmother who could make an entire Thanksgiving meal out of crisco and whatever she found in the garden out back; who was a single mother in the 40s after leaving an abusive and philandering first husband; who survived massive head trauma, then a stroke, and could still beat you at dominos; who survived the death of her adoring husband of 50+ years, then left the only home she’d ever known in middle Tennessee to live her dream in New York City at the age of 88.
- Another grandmother who had been so deeply loved and cared for by her husband who died suddenly, that she had to learn how to manage tasks most of us do without thinking – like pumping gas and paying bills – but she did it. And she set up her own email account that she needed in order to communicate with people about her two published books and syndicated radio shows. From a 65-year-old woman who didn’t know how to write a check to a complete and total boss lady who turned her grief and pain into a means to serve others in the name of Jesus.
- My own mother who always thought she’d be the perfect stay-at-home mom (for the record, mom, you absolutely were) then found herself at age 40 starting a whole new career in a whole new place, where she would impact literally thousands of students as they came through her classroom. As a teacher, I watched my mother fight for the kids in her classroom both on the stage and in her prayer closet. There are full-grown adults out there living their dreams because she once told them it was possible, even as the world tried to cast them aside.
And those are just the ones who have “mother” in their titles. If we had time (and if it wouldn’t come off like I was bragging… which I might be…) I’d tell you about my aunt who left the farm for the big city as a teenager and conquered a modeling industry known for chewing young girls up and spitting them out all over the streets of Times Square. Or I’d tell you about my other aunt who herself defied a family history of substance abuse, then later had the courage to stand with and for her family through circumstances I’m not sure any of us would have stuck around to endure.
Perhaps the greatest lesson all of these women have taught me is that at some point, God will demand your surrender.
These women have not only influenced me, but even as I type all this today, I find that I’m inspired. Point is, we don’t back down from a challenge. Tenacity is in my DNA.
And yet, perhaps the greatest lesson all of these women have taught me is that at some point, God will demand your surrender.
Surrender of plans, dreams, expectations, emotions…even the surrender of the words and visions that came from Him. That’s what lordship is. And God has made this Jesus whom we serve both Lord and Savior. That means He is calling the shots. Not me. Not you. And most certainly, not our feelings.
Here’s what we know to be true: God is sovereign. He is good. He has plans that we know nothing of, and they are for our good because He works all things together for our good when we love Him and pursue His purposes. Because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven and our eternity is secure. So armed with all of this truth, why do I (we?) struggle to surrender?
I think it’s the Principle of the Second Yes… which is something I totally made up and capitalized in bold font to make it look official for my own personal confidence boost. I highly doubt you will find that terminology in any theology book. But just go with me here…
Do you remember the first time you said “yes” to God? That first moment of surrender when you accepted the salvation afforded to you at the cost of one blameless life? How sweet was that moment of communion with the One who loves you so intentionally, so perfectly, so unconditionally? I remember sitting in my Wednesday night discipleship class at First Baptist Church in Warner Robbins, GA, only 7 years old. After listening to the teacher tell the story of Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8, I knew it was time to make it official with God, to define the relationship I honestly can’t recall not having in my life.
But then came the second yes. That one wasn’t so sweet. It was the first time I had to surrender my will and my plans in favor of His. That first yes, at the ripe old age of 7, was simpler because life was simpler. I really didn’t have any plans of my own. Each day was planned for me by my parents, teachers, and every adult I came into contact with. But there comes a time when faith is tested and your “yes” is going to cost you.
There comes a time when faith is tested and your “yes” is going to cost you.
Now so far in our little chats, you’ve only heard from me, but today we have a surprise guest! Joining us for coffee is a good, albeit somewhat new friend of mine. Please say hi to Rylie (who is a different person even though the spelling of her name looks like she might just be my alter ego) She’s sipping on black coffee while I’m on my second cup of green tea (day 8 of Whole30 and I hate it…) and she has some wisdom of her own to share.
In her words, that first yes to God feels like a warm hug, like coming home. But that second yes is equal parts new-found confidence and total discomfort. Rylie mentioned something that I think is priceless: in the first yes, we’re receiving, accepting a gift of life that we didn’t have to pay for. But in the second yes, we are aware of the fact that we are sacrificing something. There’s a battle of wills going on within: the will of the Spirit vs. the will of our flesh.
I know I explained a little about my personal first yes moment, but to be honest, I can’t think think of a specific “second yes” moment, except to say that I feel like I’m living it now. I’m so tired of waiting on the Lord to bring about the things that I believe He has promised in my life and in the lives of those I love. We aren’t supposed grow weary in well-doing, but I’m feeling kinda weary over here. In fact, Rylie and I have both been in tears at various points in today’s conversation; the waiting is really hard. And it’s ok for us to say that.
It comes down to this: I know that God’s plan is beyond anything I can imagine, and I know that it will all be worth it. But I also know how I’m feeling now, and it’s not good. That feeling tempts me to want to take an action – most likely in the opposite direction of where God wants me to head – in order to alleviate the feelings. And anxiety comes when the will of my emotions sets itself up against the will of my Father.
Anxiety comes when the will of my emotions sets itself up against the will of my Father.