“I surrender all . . .”; “Christ is all I need. . . .” The words roll off our lips as we sing them in church. But it’s not so easy to choose to place ourselves in a position where we have to find out if He really is all we need.
Our natural tendency is to hold on tightly, to try to protect and preserve whatever we think we can’t live without. We are afraid that if we surrender everything to God—our health, our material possessions, our family, our reputation, our career plans, all our rights, our future—He might take us up on it!
Many of our fears about relinquishing total control of our lives to God fall into four categories. If I surrender everything to Him, what about . . .
Provision—Will I have what I need?
Pleasure—Will I be happy?
Protection—Will I (and those I love) be safe?
Personal relationships—Will my relational needs be met?
The pages of Scripture are salted with the stories of men and women who risked everything to follow Christ. Sometimes we think of these people as if they were merely lifeless figures in a wax museum; we forget that they were real people who had to deal with real-life issues.
Take Abraham, for example. We think of Abraham as a superhero—a man of towering faith. And he was. Yet he had to face many of the same issues and fears that we struggle with.
Over and over again, in order to move forward in his relationship with God, Abraham was called to make a fresh surrender to God. To do so required that he let go, relinquish control, step out on a limb, and trust a God he could not see.
When an unseen, unknown God spoke and told Abram (as he was known at the time) to venture out and leave behind everything that was familiar and comfortable, he was faced with a choice: to stay or to go. The biblical record does not tell us to what extent, if any, Abram wrestled with his decision. All we know is that he went (Gen. 12:1-4). He chose friendship with God over all human relationships, earthly attachments, and visible security.
It was faith in the character and the promises of God that enabled Abraham and his wife, Sarah, to embrace an itinerant lifestyle—living in tents—for more than twenty-five years.
It was faith in the promises of God that sustained the couple through decades of infertility and unfulfilled longings.
It was faith in the promises of God that motivated Abram to surrender the best land option to his nephew Lot and to trust that God would provide a suitable inheritance for him (13:1-11).
It was the character and the promises of God that gave Abram courage (at the age of seventy-five!) to take on the massive military machine of the allied kings of the East, in order to rescue his errant nephew (chapter 14).
When Abram was tempted to fear reprisals from the defeated kings, God bolstered his faith with a rehearsal of His promises: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (15:1).
What was God saying? I am your protection and your provision; if you have Me, you have all you need. So . . . trust Me!
The surrender points that Abraham faced over the course of his life may be similar to some you have faced: leaving family and friends behind and moving to a new city where you didn’t know a soul . . . making choices to sacrifice your own interests for the sake of others . . . staying engaged with and pursuing the heart of a rebellious relative . . . living with infertility . . . turning down a lucrative offer that you know is not pleasing to God . . . giving up the life of a child.
If we do not trust God’s promises and, therefore, do not step out in faith and surrender, we will ultimately find ourselves in bondage to the very things we refuse to surrender. We will end up being controlled by that which we are seeking to keep within our own control.
Trust or tyranny. That is the choice. Trust the promises of God—which will free you to live joyfully under His loving lordship—or live under the tyranny of that which you will not surrender.
God wants us to experience provision, pleasure, protection, and personal relationships. But He wants us to seek them in the only place they can be found—in Him. And He doesn’t want us to settle for substitutes.
What do you need to trust God with today? As you make this choice of surrender, which one of His promises can you cling to?