unless you mean it...
Someone once told me to never sing a worship song unless you truly mean the words.
I like worshiping, especially at church. On a typical Sunday morning, I sing with joy and genuine praise for God. It’s easy to worship Him for His love, His faithfulness, His power and His justice. I love to sing about what He’s done for me through Jesus by saving me and sanctifying me for Himself.
But there is one song that at times I’ve struggled singing.
The song is “I Surrender All.”
I don’t know about you, but I like control. I like organization. I like having my plans laid out 3-5 years in advance. When things don’t go the way I want or expect, my brain doesn’t know how to handle it. I’m not very good at spontaneity. I resist change.
So, to be honest, I don’t like the word surrender.
It sounds like giving up.
When I think of surrender, I see two men struggling in a fight, and the weaker man realizing he can’t hold back his opponent anymore. He falls to his knees, hanging his head and holding his hands up in defeat, breathlessly letting out the words…
Have you ever fought with God? It’s humorous to even type those words, but I’ve done it. I’ve fought against where God is leading me. I’ve resisted the change, or the trials, or the difficulty and discomfort that is His will for me. I’ve fought against Him by choosing sin and death instead of goodness and life.
I know, I know…
Who am I to think that my will could win against the King of Kings? The God whom the wind and waves obey, whose voice tells the lightning where to strike and the sun when to rise? And yet I’ve fought Him.
you'll never win...
So have men like Pharaoh in the book of Genesis.
And it cost him everything.
As Isaiah 45:9 says, “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker– An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands?
Let me tell you from experience, you can fight with God. But I don’t recommend it. Because you’ll never win.
No one can stand in His way. Nothing can defy His will.
But here’s the amazing thing: God isn’t cruel. He doesn’t flaunt His power or use it against us, even though if anyone had the right to, it’d be Him.
On the contrary, God is gracious and gentle, long-suffering and kind.
He won’t slay you on the spot when He catches you in a weak position, and He won’t make you sign a peace treaty listing a bunch of rules and regulations that you must follow in order to be on His good side. When we surrender to Him, He kneels down to us. And He says, “I forgive you. Now come fight with me, not against me.”
God gives grace to the humble.
He makes us His children instead of His enemies.
“Once we were alienated from God and were enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior. But now he has reconciled us by Christ’s physical body through death to present us holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
it's also giving in...
God lifts our slumped shoulders; He raises our weary hands and He clothes us with an armor that protects us against our real enemy. He gives us a breastplate of righteousness, a belt of truth, shoes of peace, a helmet of salvation. And as He puts the sword of the spirit in one hand and the shield of faith in the other, He looks at us in love.
“Come, fight the good fight.” He says, “Every other fight only leads to defeat.”
My fear of surrender is valid in some respects.
Surrender to God is giving up.
Giving up the death, pain, misery and sorrow that comes from sin.
But surrender isn’t just giving up, it’s also giving in -
to true purpose, full confidence, abundant, everlasting life, and a restored relationship with God.
“For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.” (Psalm 18:31-36)
“All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live”
If those words were playing today, could you sing them?
If you’re struggling to answer, just remember what you get in exchange for your surrendered heart.
We give to Him our wills, but He gives to us our lives - as He intended, free from sin.
A reality so beautiful, my soul cries out within me -
“I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee
My blessed Savior
I surrender all!”
“Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge.” (Psalm 144:1-2)
Emily, aka Em the Word Enthusiast, enjoys sharing her reflective pieces and poetry on her social media accounts and her blog. When she's not writing, Emily finds joy in a good cup of coffee, hiking in the mountains, and seeing God's promises fulfilled all around her. To read more from Emily, visit her website or follow along on Instagram @emthewordenthusiast.
Photos by Carly Kristin Photography. Headshot provided by Emily.