Tonight I want to share with you something that I learned about surrender. It’s something I suppose that I really already knew, but I was reminded of it tonight by what the Master did for me. You see, as I was trying to go to sleep tonight, my mind was tossing back and forth, troubled by doubts. I felt unsure of the will of God regarding something at the moment, and what was worse, the old, dead, terrible flesh part of me did not like what I thought His will might be. I felt defiant, or perhaps it is better termed, resistant, to what I thought His will MIGHT be, because it didn’t match what I wanted. Can I be honest? I had been feeling this way for a few days, trying to push the doubts and troubling thoughts I was having out of my mind, all the while, my heart still in a state of resistance to the Lordship of Christ. I wasn’t willing to say “Oh Lord, whatever you want, whether it’s what I would choose, or what I don’t understand, that’s what I want”. I tried listening to Christian music to soothe the doubts that kept creeping into my mind like some vile enemy weapon, but the effect of this worship was minimal, because deep in my heart lay the resistant will of the old me. I wasn’t able to worship with clean hands and a pure heart, because my heart was determined to accept His desire for me only if it was what I wanted too. My hands had grown dirty and bruised from trying to hold on to my own stubborn will, and the pureness that Jesus implanted and worked into my heart was temporarily being strangled by the old flesh…you know what I’m talking about, the heart that would rather be defiant and resist God than surrender and find rest. It’s sad that this happens to us, even for a moment, but Jesus understands… “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41). He is patient with us, my friends, in our struggle to follow Him and remain obedient to His voice in the midst of temptation. (He is, I might add, far more understanding than we are with each other.)
To continue the story, tonight as I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep, I just gave in. “Lord”, I said, “my thoughts are so fickle and changing, and so often wrong…my feelings are too. I don’t claim to know your will based on that. I don’t know what I want, Lord, or what I need…but you do. So whatever you want, that’s what I want. Let whatever you want happen here…”. I also asked Him if He would take away my doubts, and tumbling thoughts, if they were just part of my flesh. I think I was a little surprised when I received instant relief and reassurance. As I lay there, my heart now surrendered, the Savior’s reassurance came too, quickly dispelling all the worries and uncertain thoughts that had been harassing my mind for days. It was just as though He had taken healing, soothing balm, and was now rubbing it over my heart, and my mind…and every other part of me…soothing every piece of me. The uncertainty was washed away and He began to speak softly to my heart.
We were never made to carry anything on our own. To do such only results in misery, and uncertainty, and unnecessary anxiety. How can we have our Savior’s help when we are unwilling to let Him be Lord. How can we receive the help or the wisdom that we ask for when we have not come to the place of surrender to His answer, whether it’s what we would choose for ourselves or not? How quickly He could have dispelled my uncertainty and ended my distress if I was in that place of humble surrender from the very start. “Oh what peace we often forfeit…oh what needless pain we bear…all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer”. Beloved, if your heart is resistant to Christ’s will, then you cannot have His peace. You cannot enjoy the soothing pleasure of His communion when the thought of Him saying something other than what you were hoping for makes you want to pull away from Him. His ways are higher…His heart is kind…He has your best interest in heart, and your job is not to figure out your life, but rather to trust Him with it!
Do you remember Abraham and Isaac? Do you remember how God tested Abraham? Consider for a moment the agony that Abraham was in, all the way up the mountain, up until that final action of complete obedience. Then imagine His priceless relief when the angel cried out to him to stop, and the ram was seen caught in the thicket. Do you have an Isaac? You likely do. Maybe it’s a dream…a desire… a person. Is there something in your life, new or for what seems like centuries of struggle, that you have yet to lay down at the Savior’s feet? Understand that you are not alone…this is a human tendency. We would rather hold on to things…we would rather have our own way. We may beg and plead for an answer or relief, but know fully well that our hearts are not willing to accept an answer different from what we have asked for or desire. Friends, just as with me tonight…just as with Abraham and Isaac, relief is only found in obedience and surrender. It may not be easy, indeed, the Savior never promised ease…but He promises that our obedience will not go without reward, or the healing balm of grace. That burden must be getting heavy…lay it down. It must be hard living with a will that is resistant to the Savior’s…just give in. Surrender. Whatever it is, surrender. Is it sin? Is it an idol? Is it a desire? Is it a dream? Is it a burden? Cast yourself at the feet of the Savior, and their take your rest. Allow the Savior to wash the dirt from your hands and the pride from your heart…soothing the cuts and bruises you’ve attained from trying so desperately to hold on to your own, lesser will. Surrender to the Savior always leads to happiness…for perfect harmony is not possible in the presence of resistance, no matter how small or how great. Be still…let the Savior take this thing from you…you weren’t made to fight the safety of His arms. Stop behaving like a wriggling, wayward child trying to escape from his father’s lap. Surrender is best.
And now Father I pray as I always do that you would reach your heart around the world. That you would honor my obedience in writing this… for I am confident in your promise that your word would not return unto you void. Take this now and use it as you will. Prick the hearts of your children that they might surrender not most but all of themselves to you and your perfect desire for their lives, and thereby find rest for their hearts. Reach for your children and those who are not yet your children. Oh mighty warrior, arise and save.