What Does it Mean to Surrender to God? And How do we actually do it?
We hear the word surrender in the Christian world often. But what does it really mean? Is it the same surrender we learn about in history class? The surrender that means to give up? If so, why would a Christian choose to do something associated with weakness?
How did Joseph Surrender to God?
Thankfully, God gives us the answer to this complicated question. Although there are many examples in the Bible, let’s start in the book of Genesis with Joseph. He was rejected, betrayed, and left for dead by his brothers. Later in life, He rose to the second-highest position in Egypt and had the opportunity to show mercy to the very brothers who nearly destroyed him.
What About the Israelites?
Later, we read about the Israelites who wandered the desert for 40 years while God patiently waited for their surrender. But even though He parted the Red Sea for their escape and provided daily manna to fill their bellies, they doubted God’s promise to provide for them. Their generation never saw the Promised Land.
Another example is David. Even though He was anointed as the future King, he was literally hunted by the current king for years. Throughout the book of Psalms, we read of David’s heartache, fear, and sadness. Yet, we also read of His continued faith in God. He ruled for many years and became known as the “man after God’s own heart.”
Then there is Nehemiah. God sought Nehemiah’s trust when He presented instructions that, to the human mind, seemed illogical. How could an army conquer a city by merely marching around it seven times? But Nehemiah trusted God and his army conquered the city.
How Does Jesus Tell Us to Surrender to God?
Then, in the New Testament, we learn even more about surrender. Jesus teaches the disciples and therefore each of us, that surrender means to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.
“Then Yeshua said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” -Matthew 16:24-25 Tree of Life
Let’s examine these verses to gain a deeper understanding of what Jesus says it means to live surrendered to God. Through it, we can pull out a 4-step process.
1. We find a subtle invitation in verse 24. “If anyone wants to follow after Me,” implies that Jesus is extending an invitation to you and me.
2. Next, we naturally deduce that we have a decision to make. When we are given an invitation, we must then choose to accept or decline it.
4. Finally, Jesus tells the disciples, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” We will always be tempted to protect ourselves from the hard parts of life. The parts like loving well, making the right choices instead of the easy choices, and sacrificing of ourselves for others.
But when we authentically surrender, we don’t fear what may hurt.
Instead, we bravely commit to loving well, walking with mercy and grace, and trusting that God will never fail us.
In fact, if we try to avoid or protect ourselves from the pain and discomfort that comes from living a full life in Christ, we not only risk losing our eternal life, but we risk losing our purpose. Because usually, we find our purpose right there in the middle of our pain.
This year, we celebrated our daughter’s 10th “Gotcha’ Day”. It’s a celebration of God’s faithfulness and of the day our adoption was final. It was the day we walked into Selah’s orphanage in Bulgaria, took her in our arms, and never let go again. I wrote a book about our journey titled Surrendered Hearts because, during that time, my heart was repeatedly broken. I learned so many lessons about living surrendered to God. I had to let go of my dreams so that I could see the beauty of His.
Follow me over to the Empowered Women Faith Blog as I bring this story around to you. There, we will explore how the stories from the Old Testament relate to where you are in your life today and how you might find the courage to authentically surrender. And we will talk again about Jesus and his sacrifice for you so that you can surrender in trust to Him today.
Would you join me?
Have you read our story of learning to trust and surrender?
The word surrender has a nasty reputation. We think of it as failure — giving up and giving in. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Surrender takes strength. Moreover, surrendering to God leads to living a full and prosperous life. It’s the message of my book and the prayer of my heart for each of you to embrace a surrendered life.
Wait! Before You Go!
Your joy isn’t dependent on your circumstances. It’s something far deeper — more meaningful and everlasting than happiness. The encouragement I share in this place and on all of my social media channels equips you to live with that kind joy everyday.
I’d love to be a part of your journey toward deeper faith. One that nourishes your heart and helps you experience the fullness of God’s love.
You can start by subscribing below to receive your beautiful (and free!) God’s Unconditional Love Journal. You will also get the series and 7 prayers to get you on your way! Last but not least, you will also receive full access to the Library of Hope which is loaded with free printable hope-filled resources.