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Sacred Surrender Part 1: How to Let Go of Our Rights

If you've walked with Jesus for any length of time, you know that the journey of faith is marked by ever-increasing surrender. Again and again, God calls us to lay down our time, our possessions, our plans, our rights and a host of other things we naively believe belong exclusively to us. Although difficult, surrender is actually the path to ultimate satisfaction and abundant joy.

Surrender is not an act of weakness but rather an acknowledgment of our finite abilities and understanding in the presence of an infinitely powerful and wise Creator. It's a relinquishment of our own plans and desires in exchange for divine guidance and purpose. Surrender becomes a gateway to spiritual fulfillment, leading us to a place of peace, joy, and alignment with the will of God.


There are many faithful Christians who have gone before us who modelled a life of surrender. Betty Stam is one such person. She served as a missionary with China Inland Mission. Betty penned a prayer that has become the petition of many other believers who long to live a life of unconditional surrender to Jesus as Lord:

Lord, I give up my own plans and purposes, all my own desires, hopes and ambitions, and I accept Thy will for my life. I give up myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee, to be Thine forever. I hand over to Thy keeping all of my friendships; all the people whom I love are to take second place in my heart. Fill me now and seal me with Thy Spirit. Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, for to me to live is Christ. Amen.

Betty was 28 years old when she and her husband were arrested and killed by hostile Communist soldiers. Her short life is a legacy in the practice of surrender.

We read stories of real-life heroes like Betty, and we are amazed at their bravery, their sacrifice, and their complete surrender to God. Some of us wonder what it would be like to live a life of that kind of surrender. What would it be like to submit fully to God, give up our rights, and lay down our entire lives for Christ?


In Luke 14:25-33 crowds of people are following Jesus as He is making His way to Jerusalem. Jesus was magnetic – He was a great teacher, He performed amazing miracles, and He healed people. As a result, crowds of people often followed Him as He travelled around the countryside.

In this scene, Jesus turned to the people and talked to them about the cost that comes with following Him. He gave examples of counting the cost The first example was of a building project. If someone wants to build a tower they must first calculate the cost to see if they have enough. The second example was of a king going out to war. He must count his army to see if it is big enough to defeat the enemy army. This makes sense to us. We don’t typically commit to something new unless we first count the cost – the cost of our time, our money, our energy, and our resources. Not counting the cost before saying yes would be foolish.

In the same way, Jesus warned the crowds that not counting the cost before agreeing to be His disciple would be foolish. He wanted them to be fully aware of what they were getting into. Jesus said, "Every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."

To renounce means to separate oneself, to take leave of, to bid farewell to, and to forsake. This ancient Greek phrase has the idea of saying goodbye to. To surrender everything is to yield to the power, control, or possession of another.  Renouncing our rights means laying everything down everything for Jesus - taking those things we think we deserve, those things we think are rightfully ours, and laying them down.

What rights do we think we have? In the west, we often think we have the right to comfort, safety, security, freedom, health, a good reputation, marriage, sleep, independence, a good job, vacations, money for retirement, privacy, and a plethora of possessions.

Do we really have the right to these things? The truth is, we don't. We don't deserve them. If we do enjoy them, they are gifts from God. Somewhere along the way, we’ve picked up the idea, that we have the right to these things. We need to lay down the things that we’ve picked up.


Surrender is a battle term. It implies giving up all rights to the conqueror. When an opposing army surrenders, they lay down their weapons, and the winners take control. Surrendering to God works the same way. God has a plan for our lives, and surrendering to Him means we set aside our own plans and eagerly seek His. The good news is that God’s plan for us is always in our best interest, unlike our own plans that often lead to destruction. God is wise and loving, and He conquers to bless us.

There are different levels of surrender, all of which affect our relationship with God. The more we surrender to Him, the closer we are to Him. Initial surrender to the Holy Spirit leads to salvation. But there are times of greater surrender during a Christian’s life that bring deeper intimacy with God and greater effectiveness in service. The more areas of our lives we surrender to Him, the more room there is for the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Let's look for opportunities to surrender more and more to the lordship of Christ as we follow His lead on this journey of faith.


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