Recently I started reading Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. I got it for free via my OliveTree Bible reader app for iPad, and although the price was nice, it was the title caught my attention and prompted me to dig in. You can download it here on PDF.
Absolute surrender… at a time when everyone is trying to be all that they can be, both in work, in life, and for God. Madly racing through life with little concept of peace and rest in the Spirit. I think the concept of surrender is one of the most misunderstood in church circles today. One approach says that “I surrendered to Jesus when I was saved, and that’s all He wants from me.” Another approach determines that surrender to Jesus means putting your whole heart, soul and strength into accomplishing things for Him. Sounds great, but there’s a whole lot of self left in both scenarios.
Jesus surrendered absolutely in Gethsemane. “Not my will, but Yours.” That’s the definition of surrender – giving up your own will and your own strength, and submitting to God’s will and strength instead.
Andrew Murray uses the analogy of a pen with two hands trying to use it to write. It’s pretty hard to produce anything usable, unless just one hand doing the guiding. If we’re constantly trying to do things for God, then we haven’t yet surrendered fully, despite however good things may appear. When we are fully surrendered, God accomplishes things through us. This is the reason why you find pastors burning out; they’re working for God in their self-strength and haven’t yet learned to rely fully upon the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Are you willing to surrender yourself absolutely into His hands?
It’s a weighty question. I know I’ve asked myself this many times in the past, and sometimes various things pop up, and I find myself hoping God doesn’t want that thing surrendered too. Over the years, I’ve come to a place where even if those things do pop up, there’s no longer hesitation or doubt in surrendering them. I’ve learned that surrender is the only way forward.
The Israelites failed to learn this lesson, as we read in Hebrews 3:18-19:
“And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” NKJV
It is only by faith which comes by submission (Mat 8:5-13) that we can enter into the promises and rest that God has in store for us. Have a read through all of Hebrews 3 and 4, they’re important chapters.
If you don’t find yourself fully willing to surrender, don’t condemn yourself or get disappointed. Rather, confess that to God. “Lord, I am willing for you to make me willing to surrender fully.”
God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. ~ Andrew Murray
Phil 2:13 proves that God will accomplish this in your life, including providing the very will to surrender.
“…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
Consider Jacob. He went through life striving left and right. His very name means “supplanter” or “deceiver” in other words, someone who is always trying to work the angles to his own benefit. However through a series of circumstances, God brought him to the end of himself where he was finally able to surrender to God, and received a new name.
If there is any desire for God at all in your heart, know that it is there because God has placed it there. If you are a Christian, Jesus’ spirit lives inside you, and His entire work and purpose on earth was to glorify the Father. This same purpose is functioning in you, drawing you to surrender fully to God. If you do have this desire, recognize it is from God and not of your flesh, and thank Him for placing it there!
Confess that desire to the Lord, and then believe that He has heard and accepted your surrender. Too often we find ourselves praying and then looking for confirmation in our feelings. If we don’t “feel” something right away, we sometimes conclude nothing has happened, however Jesus says “all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23 Faith is a choice, and it does not depend upon feelings, or even logic for that matter. It is an act of the will to choose to believe.
Now that God knows you’ve surrendered, don’t get caught up in striving to maintain that in your self strength. Accept it in faith. Yes, it is true that we must be diligent to enter into His rest (Hebr. 4:11) but please don’t confuse that with self-strength. How can you enter into rest by the very act of striving?
God knows you have surrendered to Him, and Paul says in 2 Tim 1:12:
“for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”
Don’t you think that also includes our souls? Yes, God accepts your surrender, and He is able to keep and nourish that. His entire purpose with your life is to bring forth Himself in you. Two other passages worth reading: Jude 24-25, and Col 1:16-23.
Most people never get to the point of seeing God work in their lives because they’re unwilling to let go first. However, it is only by first letting go that we can discover that God is in fact holding us.
The life that has fully surrendered to God can be fully used by God. There is too much empire building and self-promotion in Christianity; that is a large part of the reason why the world hates the Church. If the world truly saw the person and character of Christ Jesus manifested in the church in love, they would be left without argument. One day (soon?), that will happen fully. Until then, we continue to surrender to Christ, laying down our own lives that we may gain Christ.
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.” Phil 3:7