‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ Philippians 1:21
Often when we think of the word surrender, we associate it to a laying down of arms and giving up as in an act of war or crime. We imagine a scene of carnage surrounding the perpetrator, like a last ditch effort for them to try and escape or make a statement.
Dictionary.com defines surrender as ‘cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.’
At the beginning stages of surrender we may see God as an opponent. This collaborates with our imagined scene of surrender induced carnage. A biblical definition though is emptying of self, or allowing Christ to take our place which is in essence submitting to an authority.
Sometimes we don’t feel a need to surrender. I think this is the first step to the different levels of yielding to God. We move along the path of surrender, doing it for our own gain until we reach a place of genuine submission.
I listened to Steven Furtick teaching from the story of the man by the pool at Bethesda in John 5. He said something to the effect, we sometimes are with people of similar disabilities so we feel more normal in our own dysfunction. Our submission starts with relying on ourself.
I started thinking of this man, who for 38 years came and laid by the pool, hoping for some miraculous push to be the first to receive the angels water-stirring healing. They were all in the same position, they all had similar disabilities. Do you think there were new people that came hearing of this healing but then they heard the thoughts of those that had been ‘waiting’ for years for their miracle instead of surrendering to their circumstances.
Someone limped into the crowds excited and hopeful, asking.’ Is it true? Is it true? Are people healed here? ‘
I imagine some of them would not even lift their heads, weary as they were from waiting. Others would respond cynically,’ Well that is what I was told but I have yet to see it.’
Still others full of blame and bitterness,’These people are so pushy and inconsiderate, there is no way to even get close for that.’
How much had these thoughts kept them all prisoner and created carnage? Not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. Do you see how weariness, cynicism, blame and bitterness could exacerbate this kind of thinking? One encounter with Jesus could change the direction of this carnage though.
As He entered what was known as the House of Mercy, he scanned the crowds, asking the broken how long they had been there. This conversation amazes me every time. Jesus to the invalid, ” Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
What! At once? He didn’t even answer the question!
True to what Steven Furtick said, ‘Most of us love the idea of God changing our circumstances but we don’t love the idea of God changing US.’
Why do you suppose that Jesus chose this particular invalid? Do you think he saw the potential for surrender in his heart? 38 years! Or could this amazing touch from Jesus have been the most impactful?
Rick Warren describes Genuine Surrender as us saying, “Father, if this problem, pain, sickness or circumstance is needed to fulfill your purpose or glory in my life or anothers life, please don’t take it away.”
My heart is not there but it is to get there. How about you? Are you ready for a new level of surrender?
“Father, help me to trust you where I don’t. Let my true cry be to live is Christ and to die is gain. Help me to see past myself Lord and genuinely surrender to the healing and changes you want to do in me, through me and for your glory. In your precious name Jesus, Amen”