When you hear the word “surrender,” what comes to mind?
Giving up? Waving the white flag? Losing? Does the idea of surrender give you a sense that it’s something bad and to be avoided?
But surrender, in the right context, can be the best thing you and I could do. If we were fighting in a battle and then discovered that we were actually fighting for the bad guys (like “Cobra Kai,” in the Netflix series), surrendering to the right side (like “Miyagi-Do”) would be a very good thing. And when it comes to Biblical transformation, surrender is the key action that needs to happen to bring out the best version of ourselves.
We’re in the third part of a series on Biblical transformation. As we discussed in previous devotionals, transformation is the only way we can see lasting change because the power source is God, and not our own will-power. We also learned that transformation is not something we can do to ourselves; only God can transform us and the foundation of letting Him do that is to trust Him – which comes when we realize how good, gracious and merciful He is to us (to catch up on these previous devotionals, click here).
The process of Biblical transformation comes from Romans 12:1-2, which is also where get the concept of WholeLifeWorship. In these verses Paul says transformation begins when we view God’s mercies (last week’s devotional) and it continues when we “offer our bodies (whole lives) as a living sacrifice to God,” which is another way of saying to “surrender” our whole lives to Him.
It is when we willingly surrender ourselves to God that He can do the work of transformation in us.
Four years ago, I was diagnosed severe kidney failure. I was suffering terribly, as never before. But thankfully, Letty (my wife) was a match and willingly offered to give me one of her kidneys for a transplant. However, to have the transplant I needed to allow Dr. Garnett to perform the surgery on me. In other words, I had to “surrender” my whole body to her by signing the papers, taking the anesthesia and going under the knife. I had to trust that she knew what she was doing. I had to believe that I would come out better on the other side of this surgery.
And sure enough, when I awoke from that four-hour surgery, I almost immediately felt transformed. Part of it was probably the drugs (smile), but I knew right away that things were better. I felt a strong sense of energy. My eyes were clear. I felt whole again!
In the same way, when we surrender our whole lives to God, we are allowing Him to do “spiritual surgery” in our lives – which leads to transformation. The only difference between Dr. Garnett’s surgery and God’s surgery is that my kidney was a “one and done” procedure (at least, I’m hoping it will be). But when it comes to allowing God to do the transforming work so that I become more Christ-like, it requires me to constantly surrender my life to Him. That’s because I need a LOT of spiritual surgery in my life! And, if you’re being honest, so do you.
Think about it:
1. There are attitudes we need to get rid of: judgmentalism, entitlement, prejudice, snarkiness, being fake, arrogance, self-defeating talk, negative assumptions, blaming others, fear of failure, negative rumination about the past, holding grudges and the like.
2. There are actions that need to stop: secret sins, bad habits, addictions, laziness, temper tantrums, making rude/snide/sarcastic comments, not being present with others, bullying, letting people walk all over you, not exercising good boundaries, etc.
3. There are deep, hidden things in our soul that need to be exposed: controlling others and situations, buried hurts, fear, anxiety, denial, grief, wrong perspectives, toxic beliefs, self-unawareness, spiritual blindness, narcissism, and unforgiveness, to name a few.
Without surrendering our whole lives to God, transformation from these things is impossible. We might be able to externally suppress some of them, but we cannot produce lasting change of character from the inside-out. But when we surrender our lives to God on a day by day, moment by moment basis (which is what WholeLifeWorship is), God can then do the spiritual surgery to free us to live and love like Jesus – the best version of ourselves, and to know and do His will (our God-inspired contribution that makes our world a better place).
God wants to transform our lives. And God knows we need the transformation. But He can’t do anything until we surrender our whole lives to Him.
So, in application:
– Look at the above list and take a moment to reflect. Ask the Holy Spirit, “What area in my life do I need transformation?”
– Begin each day surrendering yourself, particularly that area of your life, to God as your spiritual act of worship.
– Listen to the Lord and ask Him, “What’s the next right thing You want me to do?”
All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him. In His presence, I’ll daily live. I surrender all! I surrender all! “All to Thee, my Blessed Savior!” I surrender all!
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