Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and friends,
Steve here…Is there anything really serene in surrender? The Random House dictionary defines serene as “calm and unruffled.” However, when we think of surrender we think of beaten soldiers in battle or sports teams that have lost all hope. Our culture has romantized victory in the face of certain defeat. But it rarely happens. We are taught to hate to lose. Random House defines surrender as “giving up, to abandon or relinquish hope”. The word “surrender” has been given a bad rap in the English language. Surrender doesn’t sound very “calm or unruffled” in its understanding in our culture.
Is it not typical that Jesus be so counter-cultural when He talks about surrender? When defining surrender, Jesus flies in the face of conventional wisdom. He sees tremendous victory in surrender. His words on the subject are found in Mark 8:35 (NIV): “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses (surrenders) his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
In other words, in losing we gain. Serenity can only be found in surrender. The calm, unruffled, contented life we seek can only be found when we give up control. Hoist the white flag. Decide to follow His plan, rather than my plan. Sometimes that’s really important to remember when I want to quit—quit my job, my marriage, my church, my mission field, my faith.
When I accept God’s plan rather than my own, it may mean accepting the things I cannot change or control. There are many things in life I cannot change or control. I have to learn to accept these things as part of God’s “good” plan. This is what it means to live a surrendered life. It’s hard.
How do I not get frustrated or want to quit because of something or someone that seems unchangeable? Worry and resentment never work. Feeling guilty never changed the past. Getting angry is absolutely futile. None of these will give us a single ounce of serenity. The only thing that works is surrender—learning to be satisfied with God’s plan. Read Phil. 4:11-13 and we see that Paul “learned” to be content. It doesn’t come naturally to serial sinners but surrendering will save me from years of bone-crunching bitterness.
If we want to experience serenity in life and ministry, we’ve got to be able to honestly say, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done!” Being at war with God will keep us from the serene life. So, hoist the white flag. Surrender. Surrender to God’s will no matter the circumstances. In surrender we’ll find serenity and contentment.
Have a blessed week,