What if I surrendered my life to Christ, and he didn’t manage it the way I wanted him to? I was a stubborn 9-year-old girl when I pondered that question. I’m glad I chose to turn loose!
Part of me said, “No, don’t do it!” But the other part said, “I can’t afford not to!”
Three elements of faith
Faith is composed of three elements — believe, trust, surrender — in varying degrees. Yet alone, none of them seems adequate to completely describe it.
Immature faith is mostly belief with a small measure of trust and a daring decision to surrender. It is a sort of “taking a chance” on God, though not in a sense that we plan to see if God comes through and if not we won’t stay with him. No, “joining up” with God is an all or none proposition from the beginning. That is why it is so daring. God wants us to mean business.
There came a time when I began to comprehend what God was trying to tell me. I was lost, and needed to be saved. Saved from what and to what? Saved from eternal punishment in hell, yes, but much more than that. Saved from futility in this life. From nothingness and hopelessness. From loneliness and fear. From insecurity and defeat. Saved to what? To peace and hope. To fulfillment and joy. To victory and excitement. To a future secure, to a love unending, to an eternal home forever with the one who made me then loved me enough to buy me back from my inheritance of sin.
Daring to surrender
I didn’t comprehend all of this in one sitting. I understood just enough to know I needed Jesus but that my sins and failures kept me from him. I understood just enough to know that he had given his life to make a way for me to be saved from the punishment of sin and live forever with him. I understood enough, though, to realize that just believing these things was not enough. I understood enough to know that trusting that he could do them and would do them if I asked him to was not enough. I understood that he was waiting for me to surrender my life to him, not just for salvation, but for Lordship.
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NIV).
That was what stopped me. How could I know that if I surrendered to him as Lord he would manage my life the way I knew it needed to be managed? Lots of audacity for a 9 year old girl to ponder that question, huh? But I had struggled with surrender since I first began comprehending the call of Jesus Christ upon my life at age 6. I just couldn’t let go. What if God messed my life up?
One day I was standing in the hallway of my home. It was like suddenly the light shone in. “If Jesus loved me enough to leave heaven and go to the cross to pay the price I owed for my sins, surely he must love me enough that he will do what is best with my life.”
I was faced again with the question of surrender. But this time, I saw the picture more fully. Part of me said, “No, don’t do it!” But the other part of me said, “I have to do it! I cannot take a chance on not doing it. I will take my chances on God!”
I am so thankful for that day. I determined that I would wait till I was in bed. I wanted to be totally alone and undisturbed by any interruptions. That night I would tell Jesus that I was accepting his offer of salvation on his terms, surrender. Such a wonderful peace flooded over me. All afternoon, and all evening, my heart was light. I could hardly wait till bedtime.
That night I went to bed and prayed for a long time. I thanked Jesus for dying for my sins, and I told him I knew I did not deserve it and had nothing he should want, but that I was giving him all of me for whatever he chose to do with my life. I told him that this did not seem like enough and if ever there were anything else I needed to do in order to be saved to let me know. In all the 44 years since, he has never shown me anything else I should do. What he did was enough!
I believed. I trusted. Finally I surrendered. Many years later it dawned on me that I did not receive Christ into my life that night as I prayed. I received Christ into my life in the hallway as I surrendered!
Surrender is like this
Jesus stands at the door and knocks. The door is locked from the inside. Jesus can’t get in unless I unlock the door. I can believe it is Jesus knocking at the door. I can trust him that he will come in. I can even say, “Come into my heart Lord Jesus.” But until I unlock the door and surrender the barriers to him, he cannot come in. I unlocked the door to my heart without saying a word, by a choice to surrender. The words of my prayer later that night were a confirmation and a wonderful time of fellowship with the One who had become my Lord and Savior earlier that day.
It is important for us to get the saving part down right because the Bible says the living part is patterned after the saving part. If you would like help with this important step, please visit our Seekers page.
“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him” (Colossians 2:6 TLB).
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him” (Colossians 2:6 NIV).
We will talk about the living part next.
Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted