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Sacred Surrender Part 2: Following Those Who Have Walked the Path of Surrender



(Read Sacred Surrender Part 1 here)


There are many examples of people in the Bible who modelled what it looks like to surrender to God. We are going to look at five of them and see what we can learn from their lives about the call to lay everything down.

 

ABRAHAM


The covenant God made with Abraham is outlined in Genesis 12:1-3. Many of us are very familiar with theses verses, and we know the story, so we know that it all turns out well for Abraham. Therefore, we tend to gloss over the immense call to sacrifice Abraham received from the Lord. "Go from your land and your relatives." Abraham was called by God to leave his home and his family – leave everything he knew – everything that was familiar and home to him. Perhaps the most difficult part of Abraham's call was this: God didn’t give him a roadmap. Abraham had no idea where he was going. God told him to pack his bags and go to the land He would show him.


Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going.”


Think about the rights Abraham surrendered in this stunning act of obedience. He gave up his right to home and family, and comfort and security. He gave up his right to material possessions, only taking with him what he could. He gave up his right to planning his own future. This was a massive act of surrender.

 

MOSES


Moses was born into an Israelite family in slavery in Egypt. In events that are nothing short of miraculous, he was rescued from the Nile River by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the palace. But after killing an Egyptian to save a Hebrew slave, a foreshadowing of his calling as a deliverer, he was forced to flee to the wilderness to save his life. He tended sheep on the backside of nowhere for 40 years.


Then he was chosen by God to be the deliverer of His people from Egypt and to lead them through the wilderness to the Promised Land.


Hebrews 11:24-27 tells us that Moses chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He decided that doing the will of God was worth far more than all the treasures of Egypt. Moses literally gave up his life in the palace to wander the wilderness with a bunch of grumbling people. He surrendered his life for the will of God.

 

RUTH


Naomi and her husband and two sons travelled to Moab to escape a famine in Israel. While there Naomi's husband and sons died, leaving her with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. According to the laws of ancient Israel, if a young woman was left widowed, without having had a son, then one of her deceased husband’s brothers was responsible for being a “surrogate father” and providing her with a son. But Naomi had no other sons to give either Orpah or Ruth, so she insited they return to their father's home.


But Ruth insisted on going back to Bethlehem with Naomi. This was more than change of address. Ruth was following Naomi into an uncertain future. She was surrendering the life she knew for potential poverty and ruin. It would have been much easier, much safer, for her to return to her family. Ruth was willing to forsake the Moabite gods she grew up with and embrace the God of Israel. She was deciding to follow the LORD. This Gentile woman, once far from God, had drawn near to Him. She renounced all her rights to follow Naomi’s God.

 

MARY


Luke 1:26-38 records the familiar Christmas story. We often think of what a blessing it was for Mary to be chosen as the mother of the Christ-child – and certainly it was – but it didn’t come without hardship. Mary responded to the shocking news delivered by the angel Gabriel with these words of surrender: “See, I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it happen to me as you have said.”


All this took more trust in the Lord than we might think. Mary agreed to receive a pregnancy that would be seen as suspicious, and in a culture that had a potential death penalty for adultery. She risked losing her reputation, her engagement to Joseph the man she loved, and her protection in a world where unwed mothers were left destitute. She surrendered her entire future to the will of God, choosing first to believe what the angel told her would happen, and then to believe that God would care for her in whatever the future held for her.

 

PAUL



Saul, later known as Paul, was a persecutor of Christians. He was greatly opposed to the way of Jesus. That is, until Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and called him into missions. He was God’s chosen instrument to take the gospel to the Gentiles. God said he would suffer immensely for the name of Christ. Paul would leave a life of privilege to embrace a higher calling, but a call with much suffering. And in saying yes to this calling, Paul renounced his rights, he surrendered his life to Christ, and he accepted the suffering that was coming. Are we willing to fully surrender our lives to Christ, knowing that the life of discipleship involves suffering?


THE ULTIMATE EXAMPLE OF SURRENDER

 

These four people are models of surrender for us. But there is one man in Scripture who stands high and above the rest as someone who surrendered everything for God’s will for His life. And that of course is Jesus.


We could turn to many passages in the Bible that speak to surrender in the life of Jesus, but perhaps there are none more succinct than Philippians 2. This passage about Jesus starts with these words: “adopt the same attitude as Christ Jesus.” It is easy for us to read the following description of Jesus and admire it from a distance. Yes, God wants us to be awed by it, but also to see it as something that we must enter into and imitate. Other translations say, “Let this mind be in you…” This means that it is something that we have choice about. We must choose to walk in this kind of humility and surrender.


Philippians 2 describes Jesus’ pre-incarnate existence. He existed from eternity past in the form of God. He is the almighty, eternal Son, at one with the Father, living in community with the holy Trinity. Jesus did not appear on the scene as a baby in Bethlehem. He has existed since before time began. He ruled and reigned over all creation since God said, “Let there be light.”


But Jesus did not cling to the privileges of deity. Jesus had equality with God, but He didn’t cling to it – He surrendered it. He emptied Himself. He took on the form of a servant, walked the dusty streets of first century Palestine, and was obedient to the point of death on a cross. Jesus humbled Himself when He became obedient. This was something that Jesus could only experience by coming down from the throne of heaven and becoming a man. Jesus had to leave heaven’s glory and be found in appearance as a man in order to become obedient.


Jesus surrendered His very life. The people He came to save shouted for His execution, nailed Him to a cruel Roman cross, and watched Him die in agony. Jesus not only gave up the glories of heaven for a time, but He also gave up His human life. He renounced all rights as King of the universe to die in our place. Jesus lived a surrendered life: "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38).  This is the ultimate example set for us.

 

CHALLENGES TO SURRENDER


But it’s hard isn’t it? Surrender is not easy.

 

What are some of the challenges to surrender? In other words, what keeps us from giving our whole lives to Christ?


There are many challenges to surrender, but perhaps the biggest is that we don't know what lies ahead, and we desperately want to control our future. We might be more willing to surrender if God would hand us the story of our lives with all the details filled in. We want to know what to expect. We want to see the end of the story so we can read it over, think about it, and then decide whether to sign our name on the dotted line.


But that's not God's way. Instead, God says, "Here's a blank piece of paper. I want you to sign your name on the bottom, hand it back to Me, and let Me fill in the details."


God is worthy of our surrender. He has created us and redeemed us - we are twice bought. We are to live for His glory, not for ourselves. He is trustworthy and in His immense love, He only has good in mind for us. Our only right response is to fall down before Him, hands open wide and whisper, “My life is Yours.”



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