Hold Nothing Back

All In 02Hold nothing back. All in. Give God everything. No reservations. No exceptions. Every single part of your life. Every dream. Every hope. Every relationship. Every single moment of every single day. Your time, your talents, your treasure… all of it. Give it all to God.

We love to say that kind of stuff. We love to sing it, love to preach it, love to give it the hearty “Amen” from the comfort of our pews. But in reality? How many of us have truly relinquished it all? How many of us have opened up our hands and hearts, giving Him dominion over every area of our lives? Now, I’m not pointing the finger here. I’m just as guilty as any one else who is reading this blog. I’ve been a pastor and a missionary. I’ve spent over 2 decades in the pulpit. I’ve preached the Gospel, visited the sick, and given to the poor. But in my heart of hearts, I know that there is still a struggle when it comes to being fully surrendered. There is still so much of “me.” Still so many times when I fall back on the frailties and failings of my fallen humanity. Still so much of the old man, the old nature, and the old life. Yes, I am a new creation. Yes, He is making all things new. Yes, I have come a long way. But no, I am not fully surrendered. Sorry, just wanted to be honest.

In 1 Samuel 1:11 we find an amazing prayer by a deeply hurting woman, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life,…” Wow!!! Don’t forget, Hannah was childless. She had wrestled her entire life with infertility. For years she had wept, fasted, and fought to bring about an answer to her most desperate longing. Not fully convinced this was a major issue for Hannah? Just look at the words the Bible uses to describe her situation, “… greatly distressed… wept bitterly… affliction… oppressed in spirit… great concern… provocation…” This was a woman who was hurting. She was broken, bankrupt, and beyond comfort. Only one thing would satisfy her need. She wanted a son. And so, in her distress, she turns to God and pours out her heart, “…give Your maidservant a son…”

Now, I get that first part of the prayer. I can ask for things with the best of them. I’ve spent a lifetime asking God for things I need and want. No problem there at all. But it’s the next part of her prayer that amazes me. “give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life,…” What??? She had one longing, one deep desire. For years she had passionately pursued one singular dream. And now, when the heavens are about to open and God is about to answer her lifelong quest, she vows to give it back. I don’t get that. Not fully. I just don’t understand that type of surrender, the willingness to open your hands and give anything and everything back to God. Sure, I’ve preached about it but I haven’t fully realized it in my own life.

Surrender is ultimately a choice. The problem for many of us is that we only make the choice when it’s convenient or beneficial. Once a habit has thoroughly decimated our lives we are more than glad to “surrender” it to the Lord. When we have managed to ruin an important relationship with our petty and selfish behavior we are glad to give it to God. So often we surrender on our terms at the time of our choosing. But that’s not surrender. Surrender is a word that literally refers to being “shut up or shut in.” The image is of being surrounded, completely cut off from escape. Now, we need to understand that in the Biblical context surrender is the best thing that can happen to any of us. Imagine a life that has no escape hatches to feed the flesh or chase after our own empty pursuits. Imagine a life that is void of disastrous decisions that only lead to pain and misery. Imagine a life in which we are completely surrounded by the presence of God, where we have become fully yielded to His plans and purposes. No more avenues of retreat. No more back alleys to indulge godless appetites. No more subtle paths of independence and rebellion. Cut off entirely from the old life, shut out from the power of this world, and shut in with God. That’s surrender.

Hannah was able to surrender her dream because she knew the security of being surrendered to a faithful God. She made a choice to give God everything because she knew He could be fully trusted. That’s what I want in 2013. If you’ ve read any of my blogs, you know 2012 was hard for me. Many of the situations were beyond my control. But I allowed my own pain and pride to complicate many of the issues. Honestly? I just wasn’t surrendered. I wanted what I wanted. End of story. But as I move forward into this new year I am looking to God for a fresh vision of the surrendered life. I want to be like Hannah, willing to give God anything and everything. Even if it’s the very thing I most want.