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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Conditional Surrender

"All to Jesus I surrender.  All to Him I freely give.  I will ever love and trust Him.  In His presence daily live.  I surrender all.  I surrender all.  All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all."

Think about those words for a minute.  Let them sink in.

If you're anything like me, you may have been singing this song longer than you can even remember--sometimes you may find that you sing it because you know it or because it's being sung in your church service, but you may not let the words really take full meaning.

Also, if you're like me, you may have had specific times in your life when you were really, truly, deeply singing those words, whether in church, at home, at youth camp, in a hospital, anywhere, and you may have REALLY meant that you were surrendering your all to Jesus.

But do we ever follow through with the ALL part of the equation? I know I don't.  Or I may think I do and then find that I don't.  Often, I find that when the song affects me, I am thinking about one particular situation in my life.  And in that moment, I truly mean I am surrendering that portion of my life to God.

What I find happen in my situation more often than not, though, is that I essentially modify the title of the hymn.  I change it to "I Surrender All IF...."  Feel free to disagree with me if you think I'm off-base here, but I personally think this is probably a more common phenomenon than any of us *want* to admit.  Some examples of the conditional statement:

"I surrender all IF You promise to heal me from these physical health issues I am having."
"I surrender all IF you make recovery easy for me; I don't want to be uncomfortable so I will surrender it to You if You make my mind decide to like my body and if You make my anxiety go away."
"I surrender all IF you tell me I am going to get a job in the next few days."
"I surrender all IF you let my relative who is so near and dear to me live instead of die."

Any of those hit home to you?  If not, don't worry, those are just 4 examples, there are innumerable others out there.

The hardest thing about the Christian faith is that we can't live with this premise of conditional surrender.  If we have faith--true Hebrews 11:1 "confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we cannot see" faith--then we MUST exercise UNconditional surrender.

Do I think we don't mean the song when we see it? Absolutely not.  I believe that if the song affects you in the innermost part of your being, Jesus is working on your heart ("He's still working on me, to make me what I need to be....").  This means that He is calling you to surrender ALL to Him.  Not just the things that are EASY to surrender, but ALL.  Everything.  Anything you have struggled with, are struggling with, or will struggle with in the future.

The hard part of being human is that surrender is a choice we are called to make each morning before we start our day, as well as however many times throughout the day we need His help to make it through.  It's not easy.  Let me repeat, it's NOT easy.  And God KNOWS we won't always be able to surrender every single struggle in our lives every single time a thought related to the struggles come into our head, and this is because we are human.  We are not, however, exempt from the call to surrender.  We are expected to surrender because of the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross.

If you feel like things are out of control in your life and you feel powerless to take hold of them and fix them--don't worry--that's because you are powerless to fix them.  We are ALL powerless to fix our own situations.  The power we get comes from Christ, and Christ alone.  Which again boils down to today's key word: surrender.

Have you surrendered? Are you surrendering? Do you wish you could surrender but you don't feel like you can?  Have you surrendered in the past and things didn't quite go the way you planned?  Good news--surrendering to God ALWAYS works for the best.  Always.  But that again comes down to faith and trusting God's time table and not our own.  Which is a discussion that can easily take up ten blog posts in and of itself so that's all the mention I'll make of it right now.

The next time you hear this beautiful hymn--whether it's your first time hearing it or your 500th time hearing it--think about those words and thing about surrendering your all to the One who made you.

And for one of my current favorite renditions of the song:

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