Shortly, in this article, I will mention the basic facts of the end of George Orwell’s classic work, 1984. If you have not read it and intend to do so, please be warned.
Surrender, I am learning, is not so much as a single, voluntary action, as it is a state of mind. Looking back, I couldn’t say definitively that there was a certain point when I surrendered, but rather that it was me surrendering that was as inevitable as the sun going down each day. Surrender is an occupation; it has to be worked at. You can’t just decide to surrender and that’s it. God never works like that. Our words can be little more than lip service. It is in our hearts that we surrender. What comes from our mouths will always be tested by God, just to make sure we know exactly what we are getting into.
What I am only just starting to realise is that the biggest obstacle to my surrendering to God was not fear, as you might imagine, but self. I, somehow, would always get in the way.
Y’shua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) said ‘my will is to do the will of Him who sent me’. The words look so simple written down on the page. And, in truth, surrendering our own will in favour of doing God’s will is actually, when you get around to doing it, quite easy. But, before you can do that. Before you can give up all rights; all ambition; all conceit, you must first learn to trust in Him with everything you have. Our understanding of being in fellowship or partnership with God, I have learned this week, is flawed. If God is our partner it means that He is there for us. To actually rely upon Him.
Proverbs 3:5 says this:
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” [NKJV]
All of your heart. That means to be faithful. To faithfully trust Him with everything you have, knowing and sure that He will never let you down or forsake you, no matter what. It means not to rely upon your own wisdom or understanding in any given matter but, instead, to learn to ask Him for His guidance in each and every situation.
Imagine, as all things inevitably are, that getting to the place of surrender is just another journey. You might start that journey, like I did, in the citadel of Self-Sufficiency. The dusty road ahead is full of distractions, especially as the road narrows. You will pass through towns like Doubt and Unbelief. There will be challenges like the Leap of Faith or the Trials of Patience. You will fall asleep in the hamlet of Despondency and have to climb great hills like Endurance and Perseverance. At the top of the hill you will see, for the first time, the golden city of Surrender. As you purposely stride towards it, you will pass through villages like Trust and Hope. The road will be difficult. We are made for this stuff. The journey will only be as tough as we make it. Of course, once we arrive at Surrender, we realise that it was always in our hearts. We just didn’t know the way.
Myself and Caz have witnessed the glory of God – not in a cloud as some claim to have, but in our hearts. We asked for help and it was given. It warms your heart like nothing else. The next verse in the proverb says this:
“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” [Proverbs 3:6 NKJV]
Sadly, the previous verse is one of the most often quoted scriptures and, as a result, people know it so well that all meaning has departed from it. Learn to meditate upon God’s words, they are our food. Without true understanding that can only come from the Holy Spirit, they are just words. God breathes life into them.
We have surrendered. We had to. There was a choice – there always is. But the choice had to be God’s way. I have kept a journal of this journey. It is filled with little miracles. Some big ones too. We can testify that God goes before us at all times. If we can learn to trust, the we can learn to surrender. If we can learn to surrender, then God can work for us.
In the book 1984, the main character, Winston Smith, is entrapped by the Thought Police because he wasn’t loyal to Big Brother. He is arrested and tortured until he breaks and admits even crimes that he didn’t commit. This broken man is finally released when it is clear that his loyalty, his faithfulness, is realigned to Big Brother. I am not likening my own surrender to Winston Smith’s or comparing God with Orwell’s character of Big Brother. But I am happy to say that, like Winston Smith, the result of my surrender has been to realise that the needless battles which I have thought as I wrestled with God over many years, were all pointless. Here’s the last paragraph of 1984; it captures something of the sweetness of true surrender.
“He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” [George Orwell, 1984]
The victory is to be found in surrender. Of course, surrender is really only the first place at the start of a new journey. We will be tested. Our resolve will face the fire of trials. The fire burns away the stuff that’s no good. I am truly starting to understand what James meant when he urged us to consider our trials as pure joy. It might sound strange, but I am truly grateful.