I don’t know about you but I often struggle with the idea of surrender. There’s something about sitting in the tension of action and submission that can feel unsettling. Like if I surrender something to God, what then is my part? Is surrender just about waving a white flag and giving up entirely? Isn’t that just spiritual laziness? Not exactly.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is in the Gospel of John chapter 15. I think it’s the perfect picture of what it looks like to live surrendered.
In this passage as John recounts Jesus’ words, he says:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.
- John 15:4-8
This idea of abiding represents a surrendered status. Jesus’ words remind us that apart from Him we can do nothing. But when we abide in Him, it glorifies the Lord.
One of the translations for the word abide is “to be held, kept, continually”. When we live surrendered we allow ourselves to be held by Jesus Himself. But there’s an active presence on our part. We are in fact present. We’re not checked out. We’re not numb. As the branch waits for the fruit to be produced we also wait expectantly for the Lord to work.
I love how Alicia Britt Chole describes it in her book Anonymous. She says, “there is quite a bit of room between self-promotion and utter passivity in our stewardship of God-sized dreams,” and she defines the ideal state as one of “alert availability.” Alert because we are not to be in denial of our dreams and available because we can trust God to open doors that need to be opened.
A surrendered position allows us to be kept in Jesus but at the same time be alert and available to move when He says to.
There are three wonderful promises that we see in this passage that come from surrender:
- As we abide in Jesus, He promises to abide in us as well. So, no matter what we’re going through or struggling to surrender, we are never alone.
- When we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. We can try to accomplish and achieve on our own strength, but the lasting fruit that we hope to produce will only come from Jesus.
- God wants us to bear much fruit because it glorifies Him. This is such a beautiful promise because there will be seasons where we might doubt that the Lord is working. It might seem like a long time before we see any fruit. But we can be confident that He wants our lives to be spiritually fruitful because it brings Him glory.
Finally, we can be encouraged as we pursue the surrendered life because we have an amazing example in Jesus. As He prayed,
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
- Luke 22:42
We know that as we live surrendered to Him, Jesus understands our doubts and fears. He can be trusted to hold us well.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
- Hebrews 4:15
Let’s continue to pursue breakthrough this year as we surrender our hearts and practice waiting in a posture of alert availability to all He has planned for us.