Surrender

I remember sitting in the big church house, just a little girl swinging her legs back and forth under the pew.  My mother and father are on either side of me.  Familiar faces surround me.  The organ plays strong and the piano accompanies.  The leader at the front sings,

“I surrender all.  I surrender all.  All to Jesus I surrender, I surrender all.”

And my tender, simple child-heart surrendered to Jesus.

I grew older.  My feet touched the floor as I sat up straight and listened to the sermon.  And once again, I heard the invitation, “Surrender. All.”  I left my comfortable place on the pew and went forward to kneel at the altar.  I cried and surrendered.  I thought it was my all.

How many times have I prayed that prayer?  Too many to remember, too many to count.  Each time I thought I was surrendering it all.  And perhaps I was.  Perhaps each time of my surrender, it was all I knew to give to my Savior.  Perhaps that is the gentle way of our Lord, to call for another surrender and another as He reveals my heart to me and says, “Do you love me more than these?”

I don’t always understand the ways of the Spirit’s working.  He is mysterious.  He is patience and persistent.  He is full of grace.  And He is tenacious and unrelenting and unwilling to let me stay the way I am when there is so much more.  There is an abundant life in His presence where there is fullness of joy and He wants that for me.  It is His desire that I get there somehow, someway, at a place of surrender.

And oh, I want that!  That full-to-overflowing life where I am ever aware of being in the presence of my Lord and I am filled with joy.

But sometimes it alludes me.  And once again I am called to surrender.  Once again, I bow to His will and relinquish.

The plan of Christmas was a surrendering.

God surrendered His One and only Son for the purpose of paying humanity’s unpayable sin debt.

Jesus surrendered His life and the glories of Heaven to be confined to an earthly existence with all the pain that would accompany it.

Mary surrendered her body and her reputation to the Holy Spirit, a vessel of life for a Baby like no other.

Joseph surrendered his honor, his plans, his future because of a dream and a command to obedience.

Shepherds and wise men surrendered their common existence to seek out the miracle that would change them forever.

You and I, we have the opportunity to surrender to the Christ Child who came to offer so much more than what we cling to.  I’ve grasped for what I thought was mine, holding on with clinched fist, expecting it would bring me a forever and complete happiness.

It didn’t.

And so today, I surrender again.  I surrender all that is in my hand and all my hand reaches for, all my heart’s longings, all my hopes and dreams.  I surrender all.

Tomorrow I will do it again.

“Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart  and my portion( forever.”

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