Centuries ago, before rifles and more modern weapons were utilized on battlefields, a commander whose troops won the battle met with the leader of the defeated army, who had come to surrender. The vanquished foe walked up to the victor and offered him his hand. The winner refused to shake hands.
“First your sword, then your hand!” said the conqueror.
The loser dropped his sword at the feet of the victor.
What a riveting example of the meaning of surrender!
To drop all weapons or means of resistance.
To resign one’s self to defeat.
To give up in favor of another.
To abandon all hope of coming out on top.
To bring nothing to the table when it comes to negotiations.
To relinquish one’s personal goals, ambitions, and possessions to the authority of another.
I recall that story when I consider my life in relation to Jesus’ Lordship. What does (or should) unconditional surrender look like for me? Here are a few possible answers.
*To rein in my long-held desire to write a “best-selling” Christian book. To confess the envy I feel when someone else does it, especially when I know him or her personally. To thank the Lord for the significant platform He has already given me, and leave the expansion of the borders of my influence in His hands.
*To stop complaining day in and day out about my chronic back pain, caused by spinal degeneration. Sure it hurts, but I don’t have to let everyone know. My wife already knows. She can take one look at me and know if, and to what extent, I am hurting. Yet I often comment to her about how bad it is, which doesn’t enhance the atmosphere around the house. To quote Dr. Mark Smith, President of Columbia International University, whose chronic pain dwarfs mine, “I can’t control whether I hurt. But I can control my attitude.”
(Please don’t send me your well-intentioned remedies. I already tap into medical interventions and other kinds of remedies, including exercises, that assuage the pain somewhat.)
*To heed the Lord’s strong “inside whisper” when He wants me to give financially to someone in need, using money I had tabbed for something else. To stop rationalizing a refusal by citing the so-called “sacrificial salary” I’ve received during thirty-eight years as a Bible College professor. (I can’t take the money from my tithe, for my conviction is that it belongs to my local church.)
*To submit to God’s sovereignty when it comes to depression, and how He has put me together emotionally. This form of surrender does not mean I don’t strive for better mental health. If the mood plummets to such an extent that I cannot function well, I may once again try the common graces of medical intervention and counseling. What it does mean, though, is that I stop bucking the hyper-sensitive spirit I’ve had since birth, that I keep asking God to sustain me, and for Him to redeem the pain so I can better minister to others.
*To never say or to think these words: “No, Lord.” Henry Blackaby aptly said that we cannot say those two words, and mean both.
(If you were to approach your Master and surrender, unconditionally, what would it look like? What areas of life would your surrender alter?)
Raising A White Flag
One expression of surrender in previous generations of warfare was “raising a white flag.” To hoist a white flag from a bunker, within view of the opposing forces, was a way of saying, “We give up. We surrender.”
I wrote the following poem years ago, utilizing a battlefield analogy. The issue in this poem is not the surrender of initially giving my life to Christ, of accepting Him as Savior. These lyrics refer to the daily need for His followers to surrender to His Lordship and will. My main idea is to show that any such submission to Him is ultimately for our good.
My uniform: blood-stained and torn.
My spirit, too, is battle-worn.
My body aches. My frail hopes sag.
That’s why I’m waving a white flag.
This war I’ve waged for years on end.
I’ve no more energy to spend.
I’ve suffered only loss and pain
by trying to resist Your reign.
Corpses dot this killing field.
No more weapons do I wield.
Besides, I’m out of ammunition.
How I loathe this grave condition!
You offered terms, but I refused.
The result? I’m scarred and bruised.
I’m giving up the stubborn quest
for medals pinned upon my chest.
All of my defenses crumbled.
Now I’m broken-hearted, humbled
by the fact I can’t succeed
unless You, Jesus, take the lead.
So take this offer of my sword.
I yield to You, O Sovereign Lord.
Choose for me an unmarked grave;
or, if preferred, I’ll be Your slave.
Lock me in a ball and chain
if You think I’ll rebel again.
Or throw me in a dungeon deep,
where on cold stone I’ll try to sleep.
O Master, did I hear You right?
Your yoke easy? Your burden light?
Instead of punishment my lot,
You hold my past against me not?
Instead of prisoner, You dare
to call me “son,” say I’m an heir?
That since my heart is now tender,
I’ll view this as a glad surrender?
What we give up by surrendering cannot match what we gain.