“Once you have surrendered yourself, you make yourself receptive. In receiving from God, you are perfected and completed.” – Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
There has been plenty of ink spilled over the topic of surrender within the life of a Christian. This word and the actions needed for it to take place have been a sticking point for me, and still I struggle mightily in allowing this concept to ruminate my soul.
As an American, the word surrender tends to rub us wrong. Our country has a proud heritage of never surrendering even when the odds are completely against us. Our military, who extend some of the best of our values, train never to surrender and will leave no man behind.
As I listen to my father-in-law tell his grandkids the grueling training he put his recruits through as a drill instructor during the Vietnam War, I can identify the rub I feel when pondering this idea of surrender. After all, the whole point of his fierce training was to ensure the soldier made it back alive, or if captured, never collapsed under the pressure of interrogation. Through the training he put them through, his soldiers personally experienced the cost of surrendering before even stepping into battle.
This idea we hold is rooted in the very deepest level of our being. From boyhood, we are told of the brave soldiers in the revolutionary war who won our freedom and gained our identity as Americans. Texans still reminisce about those who were greatly outnumbered at the Alamo but refused to surrender in one of history’s classic last stands. We’ve heard our own grandfather or father’s stories of the battlefield, the horrors of war, and the importance of endurance. And even some of us men reading this have our own war experiences, have felt the fear creep up in our chest, but still persevere to fight on and protect our brothers, our flag, and our nation.
“Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices” – Psalm 37:7-9
If this is our experience, our instinct, to never surrender, why is this an important concept in the Christian life? Jesus himself shows us the cost of the surrender he speaks of when he mounted the cross for you and me…by name.
It comes down to a matter of trust. Do you trust Jesus’ bold claim that He is God and has come on a rescue mission purely out of a radical, unquenchable love for you? In order to trust this message, we must experience a paradigm shift in which we come to know that He does not wish to snuff us out, or dull our personality to look like some church mouse. If we choose to surrender to Him, we are accepting into our lives the only One who can satisfy. Unlike the enemy who wishes our destruction, he will ensure our victory.
The truth is that we surrender to all kinds of things…all of the time. We are a bundle of desires which long to be satisfied. The problem is that we look in places like media, sports, food, and even sin, but they never seem to reach the deep thirst of our soul which yearns to be quenched and encounter true peace.
The parable of the Prodigal Son perfectly demonstrates how the Father, that you and I share, is constantly watching for us to turn back to Him. When we realize that all we have surrendered to in the world won’t satisfy, and we choose to change our path, He is there waiting. He runs down the hill, wraps us in his arms, and walks with us back to the place He freely gives as our inheritance.
An IE man doesn’t surrender to the world, the fleeting pleasures that call our names, but rather we surrender to the One who created us, the One who gives us the strength to live our true masculinity. In giving ourselves to Jesus, we are not losing the battle at all, we are getting the ammunition we need to fight.
“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)