A friend and I were talking recently about what it really means to “surrender” or “’give up control.” It was a great and enlightening discussion. We first talked about what she had been taught to believe about God being in control. It’s as if He is both sovereign and powerful but has given up His power to man’s free will, an easily misunderstood teaching. Misunderstandings and slightly off teachings make it easy to draw some hard conclusions about God. If He is all powerful and could control and fix everything but has chosen not to, then one could conclude that He is not a loving and kind God. From that conclusion, it would be very difficult to “surrender” to Him.
From there I took my friend to another conclusion that fits right here—If I have pain, trials, suffering, or bad circumstances and God is powerful but does not fix what’s wrong, then He is a bad God. These lies about pain seem to be very prevalent. (See my book Re-Framing Your Hurts for more on changing this view.)
Our next path took us to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. My friend had been taught that we should choose to live from the good side of the tree versus the evil side, and if we do, then God will bless us. This belief leads us to struggle with trying to figure everything out in our own understanding. (Proverbs 3: 5-6). The next question arose about where, in the Old Testament, Israel was told to follow God and be blessed—and it was so. I countered with another question: “What does it mean for God to bless us?” We agreed that most of us believe it means that good will happen and bad will not. Israel as a nation had better circumstances when they followed God, but each person still had every-day problems with sickness, losing loved ones, bad crops; bad relationships. Every jot and tittle of their lives was not always “good” even when the nation was following God.
So from here I took my friend to some new thoughts: We are always blessed; blessed means that we always have God’s love and presence. Blessed is not about circumstances. We mostly judge our lives by whether circumstances are good or bad. On top of that, we have a distorted view of pain. We take our view of pain from that tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of the tree of Life. Our free-will choice is not between something being good or bad, but about whether we choose to focus on God or on our circumstances. God does not promise us that everything will be wonderful, but He does promise that He will always love us and always be with us. He is with us either way.
Our discussion now went to an example of a difficult circumstance. When a person we love is not walking with God in His ways as we wish they would, we have some choices there. We can condemn, reject, smother, or let go. We can punish, nag, or take our hands off (give up control). When we let go, our minds immediately go to “What if. . . ?” We can quickly go to numerous bad outcomes that are possible if nothing changes in this person’s walk. This is our battle of surrender. Just because we let go and surrender all to God does not mean He will make things come out as we wish, hope, or want. That is the struggle of surrender. My friend summed it up so well—we have to give up the outcome. We cannot judge who God is, what He is like, our relationship with Him, and who we are based on outcomes. When we get to this point of surrender, now we will realize what we really and truly know and believe about God.
My friend wanted to know how to trust God enough to give up the outcomes that we so long for. So we talked about trust and how knowing the object of the trust was vital. Our discussion came full circle as the questions and thoughts tied together—we can’t trust a god whom we think is powerful but doesn’t fix things, a god whom we see as bad and out to get us because of circumstances in which we are living. We find it very hard to trust a god who allows pain and sorrow. Something has to change in our understanding and deep beliefs. God is not the problem; our circumstances, though often painful and difficult, are not the problem. The problem is our view of God and our view of pain. He wants to change those views so we can freely sit in His lap and know beyond doubt that we are LOVED, that we are SPECIAL, and that He DELIGHTS in us. He wants us to experience that His grace makes each one of us His Favorite Kid. He does this as we see Him in the scriptures, read and listen to others who know Him as He is, and as we practice hearing His voice better and stronger. (Living Lesson on Intimacy with Christ)
A good negotiator helps two parties to a place where both benefit and the outcome is better than if the two remained apart. When we surrender, God benefits. God gets to be God, He proves His character, He knows what’s best, and resolutions come easier. But most of all, He gets to have His beloved son or daughter cuddle into His lap. When we surrender, we benefit. We don’t struggle as much trying to get things right, we get all our holes filled up by His love, and we rest. What could be a better outcome?
For more on surrender, get my workbook for Hinds’ Feet on High Places. You will need the book and the workbook.