when will i just stop surrendering?

Quick. What do you think when I say the word surrender?

I think song lyrics. I think on my knees before God. I think giving up.

A word I say, and think I’m doing, but really, I’m not.

 I’ve looked. I cannot find one scripture reference to humans surrendering to God, using the actual word surrender.

As though God wants to take prisoners rather than be reconciled to His children.

But I remember all those times on my knees, weeping and singing the lyrics. Don’t You remember those, God?

So He said to me, ‘Jonah’, and something in my stomach dropped as I reached for my bible.

Jonah was commanded to go prophecy to the city of Ninevah that God was going to destroy it because of their wickedness.

So Jonah ran. Ended up on a ship, a storm came, they threw Jonah overboard, big fish swallowed him. Jonah sees the error of his ways from inside the fish, and says this…

but as for me, I will sacrifice to You
with a voice of thanksgiving.
I will fulfill what I have vowed.

{and i think to myself…hmmm. that could be called surrender, right?}

Big fish pukes Jonah out onto a beach. He went to Ninevah and preached against it. All of Ninevah repents, turns from their wicked ways. God chooses not to destroy the city.

Jonah gets mad. Says this —

That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster.

So then God and I discussed Jonah.

He surrendered, right?

Is it surrender to agree to obey Me once I have taken you into the depths? Is it surrender to stop fighting only because I have put you into a position where you can no longer fight? When I’ve cut off your ability to run? Is it surrender when you finally realize that you cannot hide from Me?

What is really being established — your surrender, or My sovereignty?

Why do you think Jonah ran in the first place?

Because he didn’t want to preach to Ninevah.

No. Jonah ran because he knew Me, but did not trust Me. 

He knew I am a compassionate God, a God rich in love and mercy. Jonah could not trust that I would do things the way he would do them. Jonah’s heart was to destroy Ninevah because that’s what justice looked like to him. He didn’t trust Me to do what was just.

Oh. Ok. {awkward silence} So, am I like Jonah? Knowing You but not trusting You? Surrendering because there are no further options?

Is my surrender really surrender, or is it Your sovereignty being established?

{i knew the answer. So did He. He was gracious to move the conversation along.}

What about Mary?

Mary. Teenaged girl, engaged to be married. Suddenly there’s an angel named Gabriel in front of her. Mary remained calm. We can ponder that some other time.

Gabriel tells Mary that she will become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Messiah.

“I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Was that it? Was that her surrender?

No. Mary didn’t need to surrender because she never chose to fight. She trusted Me.

I want you to consider this the next time you are singing those lyrics, the next time you are on your knees before me, pledging your surrender. 

Are you surrendered like Jonah, or like Mary? 

I don’t actually want your surrender. I don’t want to have to fight with you until you finally give up. Surrender is not the same as obedience. Surrender is not the same as trust. Surrender is simply acknowledging that you are in a battle that you cannot win. That isn’t what I’m after.

I am not your opponent, I’m your Father.

I want you to know Me. And because you know Me, you trust Me. If you know Me and trust Me then you will not have to surrender in order to obey Me.

The conversation spanned two weeks. I know that we use the term ‘surrender’, because it best fits our heart’s posture at the crossroad. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

But I do think God wants to shift something. To have us step into the light and get a better view of Him.

He never wanted to fight us in the first place. He wanted to love us, rescue us and bring us back to Himself. We’re the ones who turn it into a fight.

He will establish His sovereignty if that’s what has to happen.

Or, we can seek to know Him, choose to trust Him. We can have obedience that didn’t require surrender.

We can choose to believe that He is worthy of not just our worship, not just our praises, but worthy of our obedience. Worthy of our trust. Worthy of so much more than our surrender.

Because He is not a worthy opponent. He is a worthy Father.

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