On September 2, 1945, Emperor Hirohito signed the surrender that ended World War II. The Japanese navy could no longer sustain operations in the Pacific, and an invasion of Japan by US forces was imminent. Hirohito surrendered in order to avoid a devastating defeat.
There is something in the human spirit that hates to surrender. We don't want to give in. We don't want to give up. We don't want to be defeated. Raising the white flag means we have been beaten. The white flag means we have lost hope of victory. It's often the last thing we want.
Green Bay Packers' legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, said, "It's not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get back up." The message is clear. Don't quit. Never surrender. Keep fighting with your last ounce of strength.
That is inspirational and motivating in overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. But it is only one side of the story.
You see, surrender is a good thing when it comes to our rebellion against the God who created us. We might win the battle, because God has given us free will, and we have the power to choose to reject Him. But we lose the war. Without God, there is no life. When it comes to living my life, I don't want the Sinatra song, I Did It My Way to define me. I want to do it God's way.
The model we have for living a life that is fully surrendered to God is our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19 NIV)
I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. (John 14:30-31 NIV)
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NIV)
Surrender to Jesus Christ is not clenched-teeth defeat: "Okay, Lord, I give up." It is rather joyful, love-filled abandonment to the One who loved us first: "I love you, Jesus, and I will live for you for the rest of my life."
Make no mistake. Surrender is costly. Surrender can be painful. Surrender took Jesus to the Cross to die. The call to surrender is a call to live our lives as "living sacrifices":
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)
If God's will is to be done in my life, my will must be surrendered to Him. If God's will is to be done in my life, my will must take second place. A surrendered life asks only, "How can I honor you, Lord?" And then a surrendered person does that. Out of love for the One who sacrificed His life for me. Out of gratitude for the grace I have received. Out of trust that living for Jesus is worth it.
We start here:
Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Give me Jesus. (Afro-American Spiritual)
Then we live out of our surrendered heart a life that makes every priority, every choice, every relationship what Jesus wants it to be. "Yet not my will, but yours be done."
For me, this has been a life-long journey since I gave my life to Jesus when I was 15 years old. By grace and by the power of His Holy Spirit, God keeps molding and shaping my will, my heart and my life after His will. Surrender to Christ is 100,000 small surrenders, not a huge, one-time surrender of me to Him. And in surrender, I find joy.
I raise my white flag to God. You can have all this world. Give me Jesus!