“I Surrender All” – There’s something about singing this song at the end of a service that just makes you feel good. You’re saying: Yes Jesus, I want to surrender all to you! But, there is also something about this song I’ve learned that makes people uncomfortable, not authentic. They sing I Surrender All and then go back to the cares and worries of life. They feel they aren’t being truthful to the Lord.
So what does this surrender really mean anyway? Is it something we really can do and mean?
My husband shared a story with me that really hit home what it means to “surrender all” to Christ. The story is of a tightrope walker who staged an event over an expansive high gorge. A large crowd gathered to watch this famous acrobat do this amazing fete. Before he walked across the gorge on the tightrope, he asked the crowd, “Do you think I can do this?” They all cheered wildly. “Yes you are amazing, with great talent and skill!” So he walked across the gorge and back, the crowd cheering and congratulating him. He then wheeled over a wheelbarrow as a prop and asked, do you think I can walk across the gorge pushing this wheelbarrow? They all cheered yes! Go for it! You can do it! You are amazing! We have every confidence in you! So across he went with the wheelbarrow and back to great applause. Finally, he asked the crowd, do you think I can cross the gorge on the tightrope with a person in the wheelbarrow? Again, they all cheered with great enthusiasm. Yes!! We believe in you!! You have shown us again and again how great you are. Yes!! We believe in you that you can do this with a person in the wheelbarrow! So, then he asked the crowd: “I need a volunteer to get in the wheelbarrow.” No hands raised and they all walked away.
They believed in him. They thought he was great. They thought he would be successful. They praised and cheered him. They wanted to be near him. But, they could not trust their lives to him. This is Surrender. We love Jesus Christ. We believe in Him. We have seen Him do great things in the lives of others and even our lives. But, do we really give Him the things most precious to us? Our children? Our marriage? Our health? Our career? Our reputation? Our ministry? Our very lives?
Of course surrender doesn’t mean doing nothing. But, we are surrendering our reliance on our flesh. Our fulfillment from our flesh. We are seeking and resting in His will above all else. We are trusting His word that He will take care of our needs when we put Him first. Trusting that He has a plan for our lives better than the one we envision. Trusting that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us more and that because of His sacrifice on the cross, we are forgiven, free and redeemed. Surrender is rest. Surrender is peace. Surrender is letting go and giving up. (Think hands up, white flag.) And giving up looking at the past and worrying about the future.
Surrender is a new beginning.
I recorded I Surrender All (with an original verse I wrote for the bridge of the song) because I truly do love this great hymn which was published in 1896. It is a beautiful cry to Jesus that we want Him to be our all in all. We really want this day to be different. We really want Him to be the Lord and Savior of our lives. And if after singing “I Surrender All” we fall back into pre-surrender patterns. No worries: His mercies are new each day! How wonderful that we can sing this song to Jesus any day, any time and He greets us with His unending and unchanging love and open arms. Makes you really want to Surrender All to our loving God! “Your loving kindness will lead us to repentance.” Romans 2:3-4