Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Power of Surrender

“…Not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42)

One of the spiritual tools that we are encouraged to use during the season of Lent is “surrender”, or (closely related to it) “fasting.” It is the voluntary giving up of earthly things in order to focus more intentionally on spiritual things/things of God. Jesus showed us the fullest example of this practice in the Garden of Gethsemane when he prayed “not my will but yours be done” in reference to his own upcoming suffering and death.

Yet, both the Bible and Christian history are full of other examples of God’s people willingly surrendering their own wants and desires so that God’s will and plan could be accomplished through them. One of these was the founder of Methodism John Wesley. Listen to words of admonition he wrote to his Methodists in 1755:

"In so giving yourselves to the Lord...Let Him appoint you to your work. Christ has many services to be done; some are more easy and honorable, others more difficult and menial. Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests; others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, as when he requires us to feed and clothe ourselves. Indeed, there are some spiritual duties that are more pleasing than others; as to rejoice in the Lord, to be blessing and praising of God. These are the sweet works of a Christian. But then there are other works, wherein we cannot please Christ but by denying ourselves, as in bearing and forbearing, reproving men for their sins, withdrawing from their company; witnessing against their wickedness; confessing Christ and His name, when it will cost us shame and reproach; sailing against the wind, swimming against the tide, parting with our liberties and accommodations for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  (--From Wesley's “Covenant Renewal Service", 1755)

Twenty-five years later, he re-wrote his very popular New Year’s Covenant Service and ended it with a prayer that has come the illustrate the power of surrender for many Christians even today.

"I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
To thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen."
(--The “Covenant Prayer” from John Wesley's Covenant Service, 1780)

My hope is that whether you use Jesus’ simple prayer or Wesley’s, during this season of Lent you would open yourself to whatever God is calling you to – to surrender your will to His! You’ll find power in doing so! Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

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