What Exactly is Surrender

man jumping off cliff

By Mike (Guest writer)

He said to him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Matthew 22:37-40 HCSB

Matthew 22 has chased me my entire adult life.   I woke up one morning several years ago, with the Lord whispering “Matthew 22” in my ear.  I’ve been trying to figure out the importance of how this chapter relates to the 1st commandment.   How do I love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, and mind?  I can tell you that this thought seems practically impossible.  Recently, the Lord showed me what an integral part surrender plays in the equation of obedience, and ultimately, my capacity to love.

I’ve desired obedience my whole life…worked at it, toiled for it…but I’ve rarely experienced freedom through that obedience.   What I experienced instead is the disheartening cycle of striving to “do right and be right,” failing miserably, and then having a “come to Jesus” quiet time with MYSELF, before committing to try again.

God is showing me, that is PRIDE.  I cannot obey. I cannot live the life required of me.  I’ve come to see that the Christian life is not a life of doing, it is a life of surrender.  The reason I haven’t walked in the reality of the easy yoke or the light burden is because I haven’t truly surrendered my everything.  The startling ways of the Kingdom of Christ are that I can only be truly full, once I have been emptied of all of ME.  I can only love God with all my heart, once I have surrendered the desire for anything besides HIM.  The work isn’t obedience; the work is to surrender.

I’ve learned that obedience flows naturally out of surrender. To the degree I surrender, I will be obedient.  Obedience isn’t about doing something, it’s about surrendering something.  I’ve been thinking about this in the context of the commandments He gave us.  To the degree I surrender my finances, I will have equal victory over envy.  To the degree I surrender my anger, I will not walk down a murderous path.  This is easier said than done. I hesitate to let go of what I want because I’m scared I will lose my rights, lose my identity, and lose my control.

So now, the question I am left with, is this: Do I trust Him?  Do I believe that surrendering it all will be worth it?  Do I believe that the Lord will actually come through for me and give me the abundant Life?

Holy living is truly selfless living.  My surrender is actually my gain. It’s such an awesome proposal but it is risky, and can only be realized in total commitment.  Giving any less than 100% will be a life of confusion, misery, and striving…a life I am all too familiar with.

I have decided to follow Jesus. I’ve decided to stop trying so hard to love Him with all my heart, all my body, and my entire mind.  Instead, Lord, I give You my eyes, my ears, my mouth, and I declare that they are Yours.  You have bought my heart, mind, and soul with the price of Your blood.  I willingly surrender my will to You.  I give You all of me—completely and with no reserve.  I am Yours!  You will do the work; there is nothing for me to do but simply surrender, and walk in humility knowing that I can’t do life, but You can.

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    • Tina

      I remember in my early Christian life that when you went to church the final invitation was all about surrender. The choir would sing, “I surrender all”. Much of the Christian conversation around problems was that we needed to just surrender. This is a foundational truth that is time to be restored. You are right our own efforts just leave us empty and confused and still in condemnation.

    • Irene

      “Obedience isn’t about doing something, it’s about surrendering something. I’ve been thinking about this in the context of the commandments He gave us. “. Thank you Mike for sharing this insight. Over the past few years, i have been doing a concentrated study of Christ’s commands in light of making disciples (per Matthew 28:19-20). Your thoughts on surrender have given me a new perspective to consider.

    • Susan

      You were able to express surrender in a very understandable, do-able way Mike. It’s so much easier to surrender to Him, the great I AM and rest than try and work it out for ourself.

    • Sam

      “Obedience isn’t about doing something, it’s about surrendering something.”

      “To the degree I surrender my finances, I will have equal victory over envy. To the degree I surrender my anger, I will not walk down a murderous path.”

      Yes… it seems all those who follow Him are in the same trench, the long trench of Rest.

      Bless you Mike.

    • Sharon

      I like what you said “empty all of me”. Because that’s what it is. We are filled with ourselves and our safety and our protection, our rights. When we surrender all, as a bond-servant would do, without being or feeling we have to, but “willing to yield” freely without any conditions attached. The process of “emptying all of me” starts!

    • Wanda

      Mike, I don’t know how you did it, but you read my journal this very morning. Thank you for one more confirmation.



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