Thinking back on some historical context, what was the main way that the groups fighting signaled that they gave up?
They waved around a big, white cloth.
This signaled not just that they wanted to fighting to cease, but that they were willing to submit to the force which they were battling. They were willing to give up their ways, their culture, their freedoms, in order to preserve life. They wanted to live more than they wanted things the way they used to be.
I have been thinking about surrender lately. It seems like such a dirty word in my head at times… Surrender. Like it means you failed. Like you couldn’t take care of your friends or family. Like you couldn’t fight long enough, hard enough, well enough to save what you have always known. Surrender involves a pervading sense of fear. When people waved that white cloth, they often were advertising their willingness to be slaves for the rest of their lives. Men’s wives and children were taken from them, everything that would have mattered would be gone in the wave of that flag…
But they would have LIFE.
Speaking in terms of the Christian faith, I find it a bit ironic that this element of surrender is what God asks of us. He asked it of His Son, and Jesus followed through. Jesus waved that white flag on the cross, knowing that though we were too fearful of what we might lose, that the life that would be given to us afterwards would be worth it. In fact, it is just so telling that Jesus’ last recorded words in the gospel of Luke is him crying out “Lord, into Your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46 NIV). Another version (NLT) reads that he said “Father, I entrust my spirit into Your hands!” Being the semi-nerdy person I am, I went to my thesaurus and looked up ‘surrender,’ and found that both the words ‘commit’ and ‘entrust’ are synonyms. This means on that cross, in that very last breath, Jesus was saying, “Lord of all Creation, my Heavenly Father, I surrender to You.”
I want to echo that prayer so badly some days, but I am so afraid. I think that is the main thing that I’m finding myself chewing on… If I surrender, what will I lose? My question does not lean on the side of what I might gain, but what I will lose. What I have failed at. What I cannot control any longer. What I maybe don’t want if what I have is okay with me. I don’t want change. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t want different. I want what I know, right here and right now.
But God asks us, His sons and daughters through Christ, to say that same thing: “Lord of all Creation, my Heavenly Father, I surrender to You.”
Aaron Stern, the college pastor of theMill, wrote in his blog this basic prayer: “God, I want you to control what happens in my life. Right now I want [fill in request here], but if that doesn’t fit into Your best for my life, I really don’t want it. And I trust you. I trust that you are bigger than me, know better than me and love me with a love that I can’t wrap my head around. I trust that your thoughts are higher than my thoughts and your ways higher than my ways. I know that you are at work in me, so my ultimate prayer is – not my will but Your will be done.”
That is the apex of surrender in a Christian life. The desire, the ultimate prayer of not my will but Your will. Your ways. Your hope. Your plan. Your timing. Your wholeness in me.
That we may have LIFE. And have it abundantly. (John 10:10).