“If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” – Luke 17:33
“ But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”– Matthew 6:33 NKJV
Jesus was the master of surprise. He constantly upended traditional understandings about life and morality while pointing people to the truth about his Father’s Kingdom and the world we live in. People were astonished at his life and teachings. They simply had to be around him. He went against the grain in every refreshing kind of way. During his time on earth, Jesus knew what he was about because his identity was secure in the Father. Because of this, he lived completely surrendered to his Father’s will with the big picture of his life and mission always at the forefront of his mind. The writer of Hebrews tells us how we can learn from Jesus’ example:
“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2 ESV
Is it comforting to realize that Jesus is working on your faith? He has a game plan for your life and is actively working to carry it to completion. While flawless obedience and absolute submission to Christ will be impossible this side of eternity, you can trust Jesus to be the one who will finish his good work in you (Philippians 1:6). In this way, each of us experiences victory not through perfect surrender but through progressive surrender as we walk with Jesus and are guided by the Holy Spirit each day. Our intent is to become more and more like him in thought, word, and deed as we embrace a life of discipleship to him in all seasons of life. This idea of victory in surrender, of winning through defeat, lies at the heart of the gospel and should permeate all areas of our lives.
Take marriage, for example. Ten years ago when Vanessa and I made covenant promises to love, honor, and cherish one another “till death do us part,” we meant it! At the same time…we had only a vague idea of what it meant. Only in actually being married have we really learned what marriage is all about. The way of Jesus continually calls us to lay down our self-interest, judgment, and pride on a daily basis. We are learning how to yield to one another because we know this is God’s way. Marriage is one of the Lord’s faithful tools used to battle our pride as well as teach us about Christ’s love for his church (Ephesians 5:22-33). There is life and victory in marriage but it only comes through humble love, sacrifice, and a steady commitment to live as one.
More lessons about finding success through apparent defeat happened when we began having kids. The freedoms we once enjoyed were now erased in the wake of two little needy lives. Of course, we wouldn’t change it for anything. The privilege of caring for our son, Jude, and daughter, Isla, is worth every demanding hour they require. I think the gift of parenting is partly what Peter had in mind when he spoke of husbands and wives being heirs together in the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Marriage is a wonderful and life-giving privilege, but it is not without pain or hardship.
Or consider how victory through surrender characterizes those in recovery. Many who have overcome addictions will trace the roots of their healing back to a moment of surrender, to the time when they finally gave up on trying to fix themselves. They came to terms with their desperate conditions, which ultimately opened the door to their healing. This is God’s way with each of us. We begin to experience real victory when we refuse to compartmentalize any longer, letting Jesus infiltrate every area of our lives, as we step out of darkness and into the light.
“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7
The solution to apathy is to live in a spirit of surrender, embracing the gospel in all aspects of life. Abandonment to Jesus and his purposes is true freedom. Believing in him and making an intentional plan to follow him in daily living is the only path to lasting peace and security. Living freely as Jesus’ disciple will release you from the devastating and widespread lethargy that characterizes the lives of so many Christians. How can I be sure? Because Jesus said,
“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31b, 32.
What’s at stake here is not just your own personal peace, joy, and freedom but the redemptive Christ-centered legacy that God wants to pass on through you! We were made to multiply, an idea that will be dealt with in weeks to come. For now, however, just consider your own life:
- In what way(s) do you know the Lord is asking you to surrender more completely to him? What aspect of your life needs to be submitted over?
- What single action will you take this week to move to a place of new surrender to Christ?
In a few days, we will examine a helpful pathway to surrender: Dethroning our “functional saviors”.
 Jesus says, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” – John 18:37 NKJV
 See John 13:3. Jesus lived with the authority the Father had given him. He was fixed on the mission his father gave him because he was secure in his identity and the end game of what the cross would accomplish. For this reason he could give up everything in complete surrender to the Father. The end was near!