For several weeks, we’ve been looking at the movements of transformation, the process of re-integrating mind/thoughts/feelings with heart/will/spirit to create a new inner person who surrenders to good will and abundant well-being. The result is love for God and self that overflows to even the most obnoxious neighbors.
Normally, I’m not a fan of the word surrender because, for me, it conjures an image of raised hands in a do-nothing stance. You surrender your wallet when you’re being mugged. It carries a negative vibe: “powerless,” “defeated,” or even “violated,” and implies being stripped of your will. It’s hard to embrace because it just doesn’t feel right. Maybe that’s because this is the usual human experience when people surrender to other people.
Then again, handing your wallet over at gun-point isn’t true surrender.
A Life of Its Own
By contrast, surrender to God is a positive thing because, unlike a mugging, it conveys genuine consent and cooperation. No one surrenders to God against their will. In the Christian context, true surrender brings participation and increased activity instead of waiting on the sidelines for things to just happen. And life takes on a whole new texture and energy.
Now and throughout human history, the ongoing movements and grace of God are active rather than passive. He invites participation and involvement in an adventure bigger than difficult neighbors. A surrendered heart is actively and willingly engaged with God, intent on passage from inner death to life here and now.
Strength and power come not by shutting down your will, but by linking it with God’s. You’re not stuck with willpower to merely manage or suppress confused feelings, destructive thought patterns, and out-of-control behavior.
A surrendered heart may not be able to do all of God’s will all the time, but it identifies with God’s will and is willing to do it. It is filled with desire for good. It consents and plans to cooperate with God’s ideas. Behavior soon follows, almost taking on a life of its own, because it becomes the will. This is also why sinful behavior seems to have a life of its own.
Many well-meaning people use “not my will, but Thy will” out of context to turn God into a micro-manager. They live day after day needing to be told what to think, say, and do. It’s as if they don’t know God or what He wants, or that His will changes from moment to moment.
For example, God has stated that manipulating one another is not His will. So if I want no part of treating people like hostages to my will, it means I stop using deceit, threats, or whining to manipulate their opinions of me or make them feel sorry for me. It’s His long-standing policy that doesn’t waffle from day to day.
Now here’s what this might look like in actual practice. Suppose I’ve been in the habit of ranting continually about some political or social issue. Perhaps cultural conditioning has me convinced that it makes me look smart, so I impose my great wisdom upon the world’s idiots. But then I discover that ranting the truth isn’t the same as speaking the truth in love. I see that Jesus didn’t act this way, and that ill-tempered remarks, even if they’re true, aren’t God’s will.
With this information, I willingly consent to good will and gradually let go of that habit by expressing my opinions more gracefully or keeping them to myself more often. I allow people to think of me what they will because reputation is no longer a god that manipulates me.
When my way is God’s way, everyone benefits. I can turn the other cheek without feeling robbed or robbing neighbors. The beauty is that even if they don’t see or appreciate it, I’m still in control just as Jesus was, no longer powerless, defeated, or violated. What God gets out of it is the person I become in His grand adventure.
And that feels right—easy to embrace and worthy of celebration. No wonder heaven rejoices when just one sinner repents!