One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men. (Mark 1:16-20)
All those who follow Jesus must come to him by way of surrender. When Jesus calls, “Come, follow me,” the disciples do not pack up their gear and tote it around on a donkey. They leave their nets at once and follow him. Surrender, for a disciple of Christ, is a sacrifice, an act of worship, an all-out devotion.
Lest we think we might give over some of our life to the Lord and hold on to other parts, consider these words of Jesus from Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters– yes, even his own life– he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus simply means that we must come to him with all that we are. All our priorities, our relationships, our values, our service. Everything must be his.
This seems like an impossible calling. How can I, a control-freak perfectionist, live open-handed before the Lord Jesus Christ? The key to a surrendered life, I think, is to change our idea of “surrendered” to “surrendering.” The continuous tense implies something ongoing, and our surrender to Christ is to be ongoing. The Holy Spirit within us not only leads us into all truth, comforts us, and guides us, but empowers us to do what we cannot do on our own: live the surrendered life.
I was humbled last summer to hear the testimony of an ex-army ranger, a guy as tough as they come. This is a man whose incredible faith has led him to lay his life on the line multiple times while serving on the mission field the past twenty years. But he spoke of having an epiphany regarding surrender. Though he’d committed his life and service to the Lord, he still held on to his “never surrender” mentality of his army days. That perseverance attitude had carried him through many tough situations, but he realized it had snuck into his relationship with the Lord. He wanted to be control, to depend on his skill and expertise while romping through jungles. But finally, while in a situation well beyond his control, he spoke of surrendering afresh to the Lord and realizing that true strength came in living surrendered before the Lord.
What is my attitude toward life? Do I have the idea that I can write my own story? That I can worship God in church on Sunday and then do what I want during the week—as long as it’s morally acceptable? Every minute of my life must be surrendered to God, which to me means my life is like a soft wad of clay that at any moment the Potter might reach down and sculpt into something new.
Will you be clay in his hands?
Sondra Kraak is a wife, mother, pianist, writer, and nature-lover. She blogs at http://www.sondrakraak.wordpress.com. A Pacific Northwest girl for years, she now lives with her husband and two children in the mountains of North Carolina. Sondra has degrees in English and Biblical Studies and teaches Bible study at church.