Surrendering to God is the heart of worship. My natural response to an understanding of what God has done for me should be to surrender my life fully to Him. There are three barriers to trusting God:
- Fear. Before I can fully surrender myself to God I need to be able to trust Him. Fearfulness can keep me from fully trusting Him and trusting His plans for me.
- Pride. My human pride can keep me from surrendering to God. The desire to control my life is the oldest temptation; the one Satan used to cause Adam and Eve to sin. Warren quotes A.W. Tozer who said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” When I face my own limitations and realize that I truly do need God, I am able to surrender myself to Him.
- Confusion. I may be confused as to what it means to surrender to God. One common misconception is that surrendering means giving up rational thought. This is not the case. I need to allow God to let me become what He wants me to be. I need to be obedient to Him. I then need to fully trust in Him to make changes in me that will be for my good, even if at the time it seems painful.
Warren discusses the blessings that will come from surrendering to God. First, I will experience peace, then freedom and finally God’s power in my life. As a fully surrendered person I can be used by God for great things.
The chapter closes with showing how everyone eventually surrenders to something. If I do not surrender to God I will surrender to money, lust or even to my own ego. “The greatest hindrance to God’s blessing in your life is not others, it is yourself.” So it is crucial that I surrender to God, not just once, but in a way that is ongoing. On a daily basis I need to tell God and myself that I am fully surrender to Him and that I do trust Him and His plans for my life.
Warren quotes the Bible twenty seven times using ten translations and paraphrases. A few of these merit mention. He speaks (correctly) of how God has good plans for my life. To do this he quotes Jeremiah 29:11. This passage presents a promise God made to Israel. To say that this promise applies to all Christians is a stretch. A few chapters later in Jeremiah 44:27 God says, “I will watch over them for adversity and not for good…[they] shall be consumed by the sword and famine.” I suspect Warren would not say that the latter verse applies to us today, but logically, according to his use, it should.
In speaking about “the blessing of surrender” Warren quotes Job 22:21, saying that this verse shows how a surrendered life will help me experience peace. Job 22:21 reads, “Stop quarreling with God! If you agree with him, you will have peace at last, and things will go well for you.” Do you know who is speaking in that verse? That was Eliphaz, the friend of Job! Job’s friends are hardly the source of godly wisdom. That verse is taken far out of context. Warren knows better than this!
Immediately afterwards, he says that when we surrender we experience freedom. He does not define what he means by freedom, but the passage he quotes very obviously discusses freedom from sin. He quotes Romans 6:17. What he leaves out is the next verse which says that since we are freed from sin, we are now “slaves to righteousness.” So yes, we are freed, but at the same time we are again bound. Furthermore, this verse does not talk about freedom we obtain through surrendering to God. Rather, it speaks about freedom we obtain by becoming Christians. This freedom is given to all believers the moment they become Christians. It is not withheld and given only to those who surrender.
Finally, he quotes the Amplified paraphrase of Phillipians 4:13 as “I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me, that is, I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.” The pop-psych phrases in that verse make me squirm! A more accurate translation the verse is, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The meaning of the verse gains nothing with the addition of the extra words and concepts.
Point to Ponder
Today’s point to ponder is “the heart of worship is surrender.” We live in a culture that frowns on the very idea of surrender. That word has become, like submission, a word that carries negative consequences. How many jokes have been made using France as the punchline because of her long list of surrenders? Yet God calls me to go against my natural instincts and to surrender my life to Him. It seems that God is good at forcing me out of my comfort zone. As he calls me to surrender, so he calls me to submit myself to authority, even if the authorities are not godly men. He tells wives to submit to their husbands and tells us all to submit ourselves to God. Part of the Christian life is going against my natural instincts and trying to recover some sense of the relationship men had to God before we fell. When I surrender myself to God and submit myself to His will, I can begin to understand the relationship as it was before sin, where man and God walked in perfect communion.
Tomorrow’s topic is Becoming Best Friends With God