Often when people hear the word, “surrender,” it invokes a desire to reject it. It draws up feelings of weakness, even helplessness, and a battle lost. If you surrender, you weren’t strong enough to keep going, to complete your chosen task. Surrendering is always the last resort.
However, in a Godly context, surrendering is actually a place of power. That might seem counterintuitive, but if you dig deep into the Bible, you’ll find that people are at their best and strongest when they are kneeling at the throne of God.
What Surrendering Is Not
Let’s begin by dispelling some of the misconceptions around surrender. The world’s truth and experience never trump God’s truth, and by discovering what He says about things, you’ll find that bondage is always replaced with freedom in Him.
When you surrender, you are not…
Lessening Your Value
Some people may equate surrendering to groveling. They may think that to earn God’s favor, they must first prostrate themselves and roll around in the dirt before God to show how much lesser they are. This is hardly an inviting prospect, but fortunately, God doesn’t call us to surrender through this method. James 4:10 says,
Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
God isn’t waiting for us to present a laundry list of our flaws so we know exactly how terrible we are before He releases His power in our lives. Let’s also look at Hebrews 4:16:
Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.
Approaching the throne with confidence sure doesn’t sound like groveling! When we surrender, it’s actually a step up into the favor and blessing of God rather than a step down into self-loathing and guilt.
Giving Up Accountability
Surrender might also conjure up images of standing aside and giving up all authority and participation in your life. You might see yourself becoming a mindless bot, just going through the motions as you watch your own life happen all around you but with no power to affect change yourself.
This is not God’s will for you either. After we become saved, in addition to our new identity in Him, we also step into a new life role as God’s partner. We are not His slaves, to be ordered about and abused according to His whims. He wants us to work alongside Him to accomplish His will and build His kingdom on the earth. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 says,
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now the one who plants and the one who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Surrendering to God gives us access to His divine plan, in which each of us has a part to play.
Relinquishing Your Dreams and Desires
Another reason why some people may be resistant to surrendering to God is the fear that, if they do, they will be forced to give up their dreams and desires. This is partly true, but maybe not in the way you think.
Believe it or not, God is actually the One Who put those dreams in your heart. He created each of us for a specific purpose, something no other person can do, and He gave us the talents and passion to excel at it. The problem comes when those dreams and desires hold more weight in our hearts than our relationship with God. Psalm 37:4-5 says,
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
This verse holds the key. When we pursue God above all things, being willing, if needbe, to give up what we hold most dear for His sake, regardless if He will call upon us to do so or not, then we will be truly free to receive the fulfillment of those desires. You see, God won’t bless us like that if He knows it will be to our detriment. If He knows that achieving our dreams will draw us away from Him and maybe even hurt us in the long run, He won’t do it, no matter how much we beg Him.
For example, say the desire of your heart is to receive a specific promotion at your work. This new position would give you more influence over project decisions and requires you to travel every other month. You believe you would do very well in the position and have been asking God to promote you for weeks. However, what God knows is that if He did bless you by giving you the promotion, you would neglect your relationship with Him, as well as with your family. Your daily Bible time would trickle away because you hadn’t established it as a priority in your life. In addition, your frequent travel time would leave your wife to raise your two teenagers practically alone, and her pleas for you to be more involved would fall on deaf ears as you scrambled to get the latest project completed in time.
This is not to say that we can never achieve any kind of success in life. When we are truly surrendered to Him, trusting that even if that thing we want never happens, we will still seek after Him no matter what, then He knows we’re ready for it. God makes sure we have a firm foundation in Him so that His incredible blessings won’t sink us.
What Surrendering Is
Now that we have debunked some of the biggest misconceptions about what it means to surrender, we can finally uncover what surrendering truly is. This is where you can take your relationship with God to a whole other level.
When you surrender, you are…
Surrendering means admitting that you don’t have all the answers. It means understanding that as humans we are inherently limited, and thinking we can get by without God intimately involved in our lives will only lead to failure and disappointment. Proverbs 3:5-8 says,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
See, by trusting in God’s will and wisdom over our own, we can know that we’re always on the right path. We have to root out pride in our lives – the temptation to become puffed up over “our” success and think we don’t need God – because it will always mislead us.
The enemy will try to twist humility into self-deprecation, where you wallow in self-pity over your perceived uselessness. How you defeat that is to turn your focus away from yourself and back on to God. When you spend all your time giving God the glory for your blessings, you won’t have any time for wallowing!
Giving Up Control
This one can be challenging. Many people struggle with giving up control to God out of fear of what might happen if they don’t get to make the decisions regarding their lives. When you boil it down, it all comes back to a lack of trust in God. If you don’t trust that God’s will is always, always the best thing for you, no matter what it may look like initially, then you won’t be able to truly give up control. Romans 8:28 is a staple verse here at God’s Best For Your Life, and it says,
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Really take a moment and consider every word in that verse. “God causes all things to work together for good.” Think about the scope involved here. Is there anything in your life that isn’t include in “all”? Are your financial needs an exception? How about that nagging health issue? What about your relationships with your kids?
Not a single thing is outside of God’s view. He saw everything that would happen in your life, from start to end, before you were even born. When we completely surrender to Him, we give Him the allowance to work in our lives. Not only will He help you navigate life based on His omniscience, He will even go so far as to work things out so you benefit in the end! He can accomplish things we never could, and He chooses to use that power to bless us because He loves us. So relax, let go of that worry you’ve been gnawing on, and rest in the knowledge that God has your situation well in hand.
Partnering With God
We mentioned this earlier, but let’s explore this concept a little deeper. It might be hard to grasp the concept of God needing help. Surely He could accomplish His will on the earth without us?
The truth is, God has specifically designed His plan to include us. Even at the beginning, God knew He would one day create you and the purpose He would have for your life. Ephesians 2:10 says,
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
God has chosen us to be His proxies on the earth, just as Jesus was during His earthly ministry. You’ve likely heard the term, “the hands and feet of Jesus”. This stems from a concept mentioned multiple times in the New Testament, of which one such example is 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, which says,
For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
We are Jesus’s body, which includes His hands and feet, on the earth. Through us, He is able to bless and minister to people and draw them to Himself. People sometimes have trouble believing in something, or Someone, they can’t see or feel, so by using us as His body, Jesus is able to bring the truth of the Gospel all over the world.
However, for God to use us effectively, we have to be surrendered to Him.
What Happens When You Surrender
You might be convinced of the power of surrender now, but there is even more to it. There is a reason why the enemy tries so vehemently to convince us that surrendering is the wrong way to go. It unlocks so much for us in our relationship with God and our spiritual growth.
When you surrender, you get…
Enveloped in God’s Protection
The enemy doesn’t want you to be aware of his influence in your life. He wants you to traipse along without a care in the world, falling into every single trap he lays for you, until you finally stop and look around to see your life burning around you. He will never stop trying to steal your joy, your peace, and your ability to be effective for God. The secret to stopping him in is God’s Word. Let’s return again to James 4, this time in verse 7:
Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
God can only work in our lives as much as we let Him. We can’t say to Him, “Okay, I want you to give me all of the blessings without any of the responsibilities.” With God, they go hand-in-hand. Therefore, in order to gain the ability to banish the enemy from us, we have to first be submitted to God. That gives God the green light to enter our lives and fill us with His power, which is really what drives the enemy away.
The Battlefield of the Mind
God also gives us discernment through His Holy Spirit. The enemy loves to creep into our lives in subtle ways we may not notice if we aren’t being vigilant. Our thought life is just such a battleground. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says,
We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…
Whenever you encounter a thought that just doesn’t sit right, hold it up to Jesus. If it doesn’t align with the Word of God, it doesn’t belong and you must cast it out of your mind. Luke 6:45 says,
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil person out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
When you have a disciplined thought life, the enemy doesn’t get a foothold through which to influence you. You’ll feel happier and find it easier to love others. You won’t feel at war with yourself and you’ll be able to serve God freely and with joy.
Filled With God’s Power
As mentioned earlier, we control how much God is able to work through us and especially in us. He can’t begin to heal us from a hurt we received or transform our hearts to be more like Him if we haven’t surrendered those areas in our lives to Him. God is patient, He will wait as long as He needs to for us to open up, but every moment we delay, we are cheating ourselves out of amazing growth and revelation. Romans 12:1-2 says,
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
We renew our minds by spending time in God’s Word – spending time with Him. As we seek after Him and allow Him to transform us, the more like Him we become in our thoughts and actions. The more surrendered we are to God, the more effective we can be for Him. As we pursue being a vessel through which His power can change the world, we will see people set free, sickness and injury healed, demons cast out, and more.
Supplied With God’s Peace
Being in control is not peaceful. Feeling the pressure on you, knowing it’s all on you whether you succeed or fail, leads to clouded, fear-based decision-making. However, when you surrender to God and let Him have control in your life, suddenly it’s no longer on you. In fact, the standard of success vs. failure radically changes. If you let peace be your guide, you can know that you’re in God’s will no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Peace = success! Think about how Jesus behaved during His time on the earth. He constantly walked in God’s peace, even when angry crowds swarmed around Him, trying to stone Him, or when a powerful storm threatened to sink His boat, sending His experienced fishermen disciples into a panic. John 14:27 says,
Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.
There’s a reason that Jesus clarifies that He has left us His peace specifically. The disciples would have seen Him face challenge upon challenge with unwavering trust in His Heavenly Father, and He wanted them, and us, to know that they could do that too.
So How Do I Surrender to God?
Surrendering isn’t complicated. There isn’t a 14-step process we have to get exactly right or God makes us start over. It’s as simple as praying one prayer, but you have to truly mean it. The enemy doesn’t want you to surrender to God because he know the power it unlocks for you. He will do everything he can to talk you out of it, to distract you, and otherwise keep you from achieving this next step in your spiritual journey.
If you think you are ready to take the step, take a moment away from distraction and give God your full attention. Tell Him that you fully submit and surrender your life, every single part, to Him. Confess how you want Him to use you and transform you to be more like Him. Thank Him for His ever-lasting love and grace.
Now comes walking it out. Over time, God will bring to your mind areas you may not have surrendered to Him yet. These might be an area you forgot about, and He’s just reminding you of, or it might be a more sensitive area you were hoping He wouldn’t notice. Either way, you need to be faithful with your part of the process and lay it down at His feet, no matter what it is. Resist the temptation to pick it back up again. Know that we can always be completely vulnerable with God. He won’t judge us, and He already knows about all of it already anyway.
As you walk out your surrender, rest knowing that God is already at work in you, transforming you to be more like Him.