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. (“I Surrender All”, written by Judson W. Van DeVenter, 1896)
I woke up this morning in my own bed physically, but my mind was light years away. I had been transported back to when I was a young girl attending church with my Grandma Grace in Pixley, California. If you were at Grandma’s on a Sunday morning then it was understood that everyone attended worship at the old United Brethern Church. Built in the 1920’s, the church had wood floors that creaked slightly as people came in, wood pews, plain walls and a raised area in the front where the pastor spoke. I always enjoyed singing at Grandma’s church. The people were hardworking and plain-spoken but the singing always seemed full of passion from the heart. There was one woman who sang really loud and quite a bit off-key, but she sang with such conviction that I don’t think anyone minded. In fact, it was her voice that I woke up to this morning singing I Surrender All. It’s funny how memories work though, because I heard her passionate sincerity but she wasn’t singing off-key at all!
As I reflected on the words of the old hymn, I realized that the concept of surrender to anything is rare: “All to Jesus I surrender; all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live . . .” Even in the Counseling Room surrender doesn’t come up. We talk about resolving issues and staying close to God as we pray through concerns. We also talk about the appropriateness of “giving things over to God” through prayer when there doesn’t seem to be anything else left to do. I suppose that IS a form of surrender but I am convicted that we need to use the actual word more.
Webster’s dictionary defines surrender: To yield to the power, control or possession of another upon compulsion or demand. That’s a start, but I think Scripture puts more “meat” on the meaning when it comes to our spiritual surrender and how God would have us live it out:
- “O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the LORD, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.” Jeremiah 4:4 (New Living Translation)
- “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:3 (Our challenge here is that many times loving requires surrendering our hurt or resentment toward someone who has hurt or disappointed us.)
Surrender (very much like humility) is something that we humans try to avoid; we would rather burn with resentment or bitterness as our right. But over the years I have found, that when I hold onto those “rights” when I have been hurt and am angry, the question that hangs in the air that God asks is, “Kathie, will you trust me in this?” There was a time when I didn’t answer God’s question, essentially saying “No!” But He has continued to shepherd my heart to the point where I have learned to say “Yes!” more readily and (dare I say it?) surrendered to His will for my life. In doing that, I have discovered the blessing of His kindness in tending to my wounds as He has worked in ways I never thought possible.
Friend, are you struggling with hurt or unfairness you have experienced in your life? “Life” is not always fair but God is always, always, always good! Surrender to Him whatever you are going through and be blessed in the process!All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy love and power; Let Thy blessing fall on me. I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all!