“Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.” – C.S. Lewis
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Ever sung any of the following lyrics?
- “Lord, I give you my heart, I give you my soul, I live for you alone.”
- “Take the world, but give me Jesus”
- “Strip everything away, til all I have is You, undo the veils so all I see is You”
- “I’m giving you my heart, and all that is within, I lay it all down for the sake of you my King, I’m giving you my dreams, I’m laying down my right, I’m giving up my pride for the promise of new life, And I surrender all to you, all to you.”
- “I’m falling on my knees, offering everything, Jesus you’re all this heart is living for”
- “Be the fire in my heart, Be the wind in these sails, Be the reason that I live, Jesus, Jesus”
- “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me”
Full marks if you recognise all these lyrics. Here are the lyrics of some great, great songs! I love these songs and I love the heart behind them. But sometimes it is so easy to sing these lyrics without thinking about the inherent cost and sacrifice that is contained within them. These are songs of surrender. I’m sure you can think of other Sunday songs that contain a similar heart cry – to give Jesus everything. I’m sure you can think of similar prayers that you have prayed. What I am realising is that there can be a disconnect between the words that come from our lips and the actual action of surrender. It’s easy for me to sit and pray “Lord, I give you everything, take my anywhere” and for nothing to change in my heart. How many times have I prayed “take everything” but held on to every single thing that was holding me back from the depth of the Father’s heart? Wow, I am so very challenged just writing that sentence.
Here is a simple truth: surrender is not a fuzzy feeling we get singing these lyrics or praying these prayers on a Sunday. Surrender is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday abandonment. Surrender is giving Him control of every single dimension of our life every single day of the week.
Surrender is realising He is the king and He therefore has absolute control. Surrender is laying down our control at the feet of Jesus. Surrender is giving Him everything that you have, everything that you could be, everything that you desire and dream about… it’s allowing Him to take it all – even if you never see it again. That’s #allin surrender. That’s the heart of a disciple. I am learning this every single day. And it is sometimes very painful because I really want to hold on.
Surrender is largely opposite to the mentality of our culture. Our society says fight for everything and be in control. You are entitled and you should battle for what you deserve. Surrender, therefore, can often be seen as a weakness. You don’t want to see an army going into battle with the mindset of surrender. You don’t want to see the England football team lay down without even trying! How countercultural is it that Jesus goes against this. The majority perspective is to fight for your promotion, hold on to your security, get to the top. We should not worry about the people around us. Don’t back down, seize every opportunity, win. Is this not one of the undercurrents of our culture? There is not much value placed on surrender, on going lower, on letting go of control. However, despite this surrender and sacrifice are core values for the Jesus follower.
Jesus states in the Amplified version of the Bible:
“If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].” (Matthew 16:24)
Jesus is clear. The cost of discipleship is death. It is laying everything down. Surrender is death every day of the week. Death to my desire, death to my passions, death to my dreams. When He calls you, it is a call to die. It is disregarding and losing sight of myself and my interests and it is pursuing Him above everything else. And you know what? Death is damn painful. It hurts. My dreams are amazing. He put them there! I really want to see lives transformed, I want to see things grow, I want to see people come alive, I want to get married, to pursue the heart of Jesus alongside a girl, I want to be secure with somewhere to live, enough money to pay the bills… it is painful surrendering these things. None of them are bad – but am I going to pursue these things above Jesus?
On Tuesday morning during a talk at Form, Jesus specifically said to me, “will you give up everything to follow me?” He’s said it before, He will say it again. On a Sunday morning it’s often easy to pray that prayer. “God, I’ll go anywhere, I’ll do anything.” But when you put it in the context of letting go of my dreams, the deep desires of my heart, it suddenly becomes harder. Let me be honest, there are things that I want that I sometimes want a lot more than I want Jesus. A lot more. Still! And so that is why I got down on my knees and I cried. I cried longer than I’ve ever cried before. Some of the aforementioned hopes and dreams came to mind and I painfully laid them down. Is this what taking up a cross looks like? Is this death? Is this #allin surrender?
#allin surrender is a process
I’m not telling this story to draw attention to myself – I’m telling it as dying is all I feel qualified to talk about at the moment. This is my story every day at this time. And that’s the truth – the reality of a life of surrender is that it is a continual process. God is moving in my life at the moment, removing all that hinders love so that only He remains. The reality is that I still need to let go of some things. A lot of things. There are still things that I am pursuing above Jesus. There are still things where I cling desperately to control. Surrender is a process that lasts a lifetime.
But it is a process that is worth it. It costs everything, but there is nothing that is worth more than the priceless privilege of intimately knowing Christ Jesus. He is beyond worth – His love is of infinite value. In the process of kneeling before Him, heart laid open with all my dreams, tears and snot pouring out, I knew His love so close to me. My dreams were put there by Him, but He wants to lead and guide me. He wants it to be a relationship with Him first and foremost. His will, not mine. Will you give up everything to follow Him, to cleave yourself to Him in the most close way, even if you never see those dreams and passions realised? It is hard, but it is worth it. It is the call of Christ. Come and die. He is the God who prunes us back in order to see us produce fruit. Not just fruit, but fruit that lasts – fruit with eternal value (John 15). This is what CS Lewis was talking about! We have to let every part of us die before that part can bring resurrection life. Nothing that has not died will be raised to life. It starts with surrender. That’s why Romans 12 urges us to be “living sacrifices”. We are to live from the sacrificial altar of #allin surrender – it is a place of refinement, death, sacrifice, but also a place of holy fire and therefore a place of intimate connection and closeness.
The ultimate surrender
The context of surrender is that Jesus has already done it. We do not have a dictatorial king who harshly gives us dreams and then snatches them from us. No, we have the true king who in all His splendour humbled Himself to the point where He surrendered everything, first by becoming human and living as us and then by surrendering His life, forever uniting Himself with us on the cross. That is #allin surrender. He set the standard. There was no greater price, no greater surrender. His desire for us was worth dying for. His desire for you means He would do it all again. In that context, surely giving up everything to follow and be with Him is so unbelievably worth it? He has made a way! We surrender in His strength. We pick up our cross, disregard ourselves and cling to Him. God, we want to chase after You with everything we have. We want to lay aside all that holds us back and fix our eyes firmly on You. Where You go, we will follow.
Keep nothing back.
Go #allin. It’s worth it.
Who will join me on this endeavor?
- Is your life a life of daily surrender?
- Are there any areas of your life where you need to surrender today?
- What steps do you need to take to surrender?
I put together a soundtrack of five songs of surrender on my music blog. Listen here.