By Joyell Nevins – CFFM Blogger
“Never give up! Never surrender!” This tagline from the movie Galaxy Quest and attributed to multiple warriors misses a crucial point:
To give up and to surrender are not the same thing.
To give up means to quit completely, to stop the fight, to stop caring. But surrender – that’s to give up control.
The Lord does continually encourage His followers to press on, keep fighting, and keep being faithful:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 NIV
“But you, O man of God, flee these things [love of money and gain] and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…” 1Timothy 6:11-12 NKJV
The Bible is sprinkled with the language of battle and the theme of not giving up. But at the same time, the Lord also notes the power of letting Him take charge.
When Jesus was describing some of what he must suffer as the Son of Man, including rejection and death, the disciples bucked it. Peter actually began to “rebuke” him and say, ‘oh no, Lord, that won’t happen to you!’
But rather than rallying with his troops (disciples) and going to fight the Pharisees or protest on the high priest’s steps, Jesus does the opposite. He calls Peter out and tells him that Peter is “not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Then, Jesus speaks to the rest of the disciples a directive that still holds true today:
“If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 NKJV (you can read another part of this discussion in Luke 9:18-27)
Later, when Jesus is under immense pressure and praying in the garden of Gethsemane (Hebrew for a literal “oil press”) right before the events of the crucifixion, he demonstrates what surrender looks like:
“…he fell on his face, praying and saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 REV
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and he knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:41-42 REV
Technically, Jesus did not want to die on the cross and go through the torture that ensued before that. Plus, he did have the ability to avoid pain – he could have stopped preaching, left Jerusalem, and likely lived a quiet life on a distant mountainside.
But, Jesus also understood that there was a bigger picture. He believed that there was a purpose to his life, and in Jesus’s case, the cross was a step to fulfilling that purpose. So, he willingly chose to surrender to God’s will.
Throughout the Bible, men and women have demonstrated this choice of surrender. Moses really did leave a quiet life on a mountainside, Abraham surrendered (what he thought would be) his son’s life, Ruth left her cultural background to commit to being at her mother-in-law’s side and serve her God.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, modeled Jesus’s later statement in the garden when she told the angel Gabriel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”
In none of these, along with a myriad of other records, did surrender come easily. There was always a price involved – some type of pain or discomfort that the person was going to have to live through. But, there was always a reward involved, too.
The Reward of Surrender
God had a purpose and a plan, and He saw the big picture. Like the pilot who follows the air traffic controller’s directions because the controller can see obstacles and results the pilot can’t, so stalwarts of faith surrendered to God’s leading because they trusted His ability to see all components and bring an end greater than they could imagine.
We today still have this choice. Sometimes, it can be as large as a physical move or a mission (you can read about a couple connected to CFF whose surrender involved delivering Bibles in war-torn areas in “From Ohio to the Philippines: A Global Kingdom Connection”).
Sometimes, it can be waiting on a job, or allowing your children or loved ones to make foolish choices. In my case, I have had to surrender my will for His in times of moving, ministry, and relationships.
But, it has always been good…scratch that. What I wanted was good. What God was pushing me to hold out for or move into was best.
As author and pastor Michael Todd put it, “The pinnacle of your purpose is not defined by your strength, but by your surrender.”
How about you, fellow believer? Where have you seen deferral to God’s will and purpose turn out for the best in the past? What decisions or situations is God asking you to surrender to Him now?
Please feel free to share any prayer requests or victorious testimonies with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.