In Bring Her Home, both Eva and Darrek have a moment where they have to make the choice whether or not to surrender. I won’t tell you whether they do or not, because, for both of them, that moment is a huge part of their story, but writing it made me think a lot about what it really means to surrender.
To be honest, I used to think it was weakness. Giving up. Giving in. A moment on the battlefield when the choice is taken from you and there’s nothing left to do but give up. But that’s not surrender. Surrender is a choice. An action. A decision made – not taken – to give over control to someone else.
It was on a family vacation to the beach in my teens when I first realised how much strength it truly took to surrender.
That particular day, I was just standing in the water, watching the people around me while the waves crashed gently around my knees. After a while, for some reason, I decided to kneel. Maybe my legs were tired. Maybe I was bored. Maybe God knew I needed to learn a lesson on surrender and put the idea in my head.
Whatever the reason, suddenly, those same waves which hadn’t affected me at all while I was standing were barrelling me over every time they came at me. I was being pulled whichever way the water took me. The waves hadn’t gotten any stronger. I’d just changed positions. While I knelt there, I was completely at the mercy of the waves.
After a few unexpected mouthfuls of water, and a pretty serious dunking, I gave up and stood again, completely back in control, but the feeling of being both immersed in the water and at its mercy stayed with me.
I realised that that was what it meant to surrender. To kneel before God, and let him take me where he wanted. Give up control. Push me whichever way he willed. Overwhelm me. Fill me even.
Could I stand strong if I wanted to? Sure. I could probably go through every day of my life standing strong letting God be just kind of there, batting at my knees. There when I need him, but never completely in control. Plenty of people do it. It’s easy. Safe even. But, as terrifying as it seems at times, it’s not what I want. I want the ‘more’. The adventure. To be all in. Truly surrendered.
Doing so is hard. So, so incredibly hard. I’ve known and loved God my whole life but even so, it was a few more years after that lightbulb moment on the beach before I finally found the courage (and the desperation) to truly, wholeheartedly, nothing held back surrender. Just like when I knelt in the waves, my life felt almost instantly out of control. But in the years that followed, I found God to be not only the waves moving me and taking me where He wanted, but the rock holding me firm. I learnt that life could be brutal, but God was good. I learnt what it meant to truly cry out to God, and hear him answer. My doubts gave way to certainties and, even as my body grew weak, my faith grew strong.
Surrender isn’t easy, and it certainly doesn’t come naturally. It’s a choice – both to place my life into the hands and will of someone stronger than me, and to daily choose to stay there.
Worth it? The pain, the struggle, the feeling out of control and constantly having to choose to surrender all over again?
To see God work through my life to change the lives of others? Absolutely.
What does the word ‘surrender’ mean to you?
What do you think is the biggest fear people have with surrendering?
Is there something in your life you need to surrender to God today?
God, surrender is hard. Help me to remember in those moments I’m faced with the choice of surrendering to your way or choosing my own, that you love me. That you will be my rock, even when the world is shaking around me. That you have a plan, even when life feels out of control. That you will never, not even for one moment, leave me to face this life alone. Help me to trust you. Give me the courage to surrender.