It occurred to me that sometimes we confuse surrender with resignation. Both involve giving up, letting go, yielding. But resignation carries a touch of despair that surrender doesn’t: “the feeling that something unpleasant is going to happen and cannot be changed.” Surrender is an integral part of a disciple’s life, but resignation is NOT. Resignation is surrender without hope or love.
Every day I discover something about who God is, and who He isn’t. There’s quite a bit of warfare around those two things as well, and I’m sorry to say that I’m far from immune on that score. More than a few of my so-called surrenders were actually cringing resignation, and none more wretched than my early dealings with accepting the life God had given me.
I don’t know how it works for others in the deep, messy Gethsemane-go-rounds, but God pokes at me until my deepest objection comes shooting out. For instance, God asked me to give Him my life, as deeply as I was able to at that time. And I was wracked with torment for 3 days, wrestling against something I couldn’t name. And the Spirit poked and nudged and pierced until the following came boiling out: “If I give You my life, I just know that You’re going to send me out all alone, to be a missionary in the middle of nowhere until I finally die of dysentery surrounded by people who hate me!” My apologies to those of you who are horrified by this admission, but at that time, I wasn’t truly born again, and I neither knew God nor loved Him – though I professed to both.
God didn’t end my life with a lightning strike, but He did respond to me. He said that if that’s where I wanted to go, then He’d meet me there. “If this, your biggest fear of who I am and what I’ll do to you, comes true, will you still say “yes” to Me and all that I am?” God doesn’t toy with me. He uncovers and splays my fear before me and says, “Choose.”
Ultimately I did say yes. Not because I suddenly loved Him with all my heart, and not because I realized what an honor and privilege it would be to serve the Lord, regardless of where He sent me. No, I said yes because I couldn’t go back. I’d experienced enough grace by then that I just couldn’t let it go. God’s love was breaking through my barriers and I didn’t want to live without it. Even if it turned out that He knew the dreams of my heart and didn’t care about that at all. Even if He stomped those dreams to pieces, I wouldn’t let go of His Love. But it wasn’t surrender; it was resignation.
I listened to the enemy’s accusations and despaired. “God doesn’t care what you want. He doesn’t care about your hopes or dreams; your life is HIS now. Everything you want is selfish and stupid and ungodly, so why wouldn’t He crush it out of you? He told you that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, so everything that you have a heart for is wrong, too. Get ready for a life of misery!” I’d said yes to God, but I was perishing under these poisoned words.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12 AMP
My heart was so sick, and I did it! I listened to the enemy and let him murder my hope.
Now, God knew where I was susceptible and why, and though He NEVER pities or pets my fear, He is merciful and compassionate. He didn’t leave me in the throes of that Great Lie about who He is. He gave me the gift of Truth and showed me exactly what was happening and why.
Of course God cares about my heart! That won’t stop Him from breaking it, but He doesn’t toy with me and He certainly doesn’t delight in my pain. Satan has a great knack for projection! And he knows the importance of hope, so he doesn’t hesitate to go after it.
When I’m in the midst of a Gethsemane-go-round now, it’s quite different. I still get poked and pierced, and more often than not my fears are exposed, and I still visit the bottom-line with God—but I also have hope. I have hope for the wonder that God constantly shows Himself to be. I have hope for the adventure inherent in even the most mundane parts of my life with Him. I have hope for the Life that will replace this surrender-death. And I have hope that His plans for me are as surprising and fulfilling and wild as He is.
“I couldn’t go back” – Oh Jen, that just pierced me; I’ve been there. When I was a new Christian many years ago(mid twenties), an acquaintance who was a Christian, had a son in-law that was holding a bible study within walking distance of my apartment (no car). During one of these bible studies I was confessing some sins and asking for prayer. Well, the next day, while I was working the drive-thru at Burger King, one of the ladies from this Bible study, who I considered a friend, drove up and, after I handed her her order, rather coldly… Read more »
I have seen the distinction between dying to my expectations and efforts as opposed to dying to my hope. Sometimes the dying is so deep that I die to both but God has been so faithfully kind to VERY QUICKLY revive the hope and promise that is from Him while separating the expectations and any other thing that was not from Him. ‘Shaking everything that can be shaken”
Oh the beautiful subtleties of this life! Yes, Jen, a very fine line between surrender and resignation. Thank you for this reminder.