v. sur·ren·dered, sur·ren·der·ing, sur·ren·ders
verb (used with object) 1. to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress; 2. to give (oneself) up; 3. to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.; 4. to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc.). 5. to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another. verb (used without object) 6. to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield. noun 7. the act or an instance of surrendering.
“When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” JFK
“It is better to risk starving to death then surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what’s left?” Jim Carrey
Perhaps you agree with these celebs, but I have to say, the more I search out what identity means and looks like, the more I disagree with sentiments like these.
A few days ago in a worship service I watched as a few worshippers amongst a large congregation raised their arms up to the sky. It’s a strange concept, maybe, if you’re not familiar with church folk, or if you are familiar with church folk, but a not so outwardly expressive bunch. As I watched those few arms outstretched to heaven, I reflected back to the first time I heard a worship leader explain about this gesture that symbolized surrender across nations and cultures: raised arms.
In that moment, I felt a quiet whisper in my heart: “This is the key to your identity: Give up.”
Yes, friends. If we want to find out who we are, we have to surrender to the One who knows us and loves us and sees us so well. The one who died that we might live.
Yes, this surrender stuff is completely counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. It goes against the grain and against the norm and against what all the popular kids will tell you. It’s unexpected and probably unpredictable. But isn’t that the way of the Kingdom?
While we’re on famous celebrity quotes, let’s consider this one:
I’m convinced that to gain life, to know our true identities, we must give up. We have to surrender. This past weekend my husband led a retreat of middle and high school students. And the theme? Give your life away. I put together the simple graphic below for their tee shirts (you’ll also find it in the shop). I cannot escape the message: to gain your life, you must lose it.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Matthew 16:24-26
So, you’re hoping to discover yourself? Friend, it’s time to let go. Stop striving. Surrender. Stretch out your arms and let God.