I’ve tried all week to write this week’s post – not because I didn’t have anything to write about – but because I struggle with the “Topic.”
The “Topic” came up early this week. Last year when I was at the Renovaré Conference, John Ortberg informed us he had a new book coming out called – the me I want to be>>becoming God’s best version of you. Just by the title, I knew I had to read the book when it came out. I purchased it a couple of months ago but didn’t start reading it until Monday. I was doing fine until I came to Chapter 5 – the “Topic” I struggle with.
To go along with my reading of Ortberg’s book, and a routine for the new school year, Monday morning I began a new devotional book – the Woman’s Devotional guide to the Bible by Jean E. Syswerda – for my morning quiet time (what little I have). The description on the cover says, “It’s a one-year plan for Studying, Praying, and Responding to God’s Word.” It looks like a great way to read the entire Bible in a year – perfect for my mornings. Therefore, I begin with Week 1 – Day 1 and on Wednesday, I’m on Week 1 – Day 3. Well I thought it was Week 1 – Day 3 but today when I looked at it again, it was actually Week 3 – Day 3. Apparently, after reading Week 1 – Day 2 on Tuesday, I accidentally skipped the rest of Week 1, all of Week 2 and Days 1 & 2 of Week 3. Don’t you just love how God works – He had me skip those readings just to confirm today’s “Topic!”
I know – I’ve kept you in suspense long enough – what’s the “Topic?” I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say I struggle with it but it’s something that I must do in order to Follow 2 Serve.
The “Topic” is – Surrender (whew, there I said it).
Surrender, it’s the “Topic” of Chapter 5 in the me I want to be and one of the many topics of Week 3 – Day 3 in the Woman’s Devotional guide to the Bible. I struggle with it because I don’t like to do it and some days, it’s just easier not to surrender.
To start with, the word – Surrender – means (according to Webster’s New World Dictionary): to give up possession of; yield to another on compulsion; to give up or abandon
Surrender, when compared to the word Submit (which means to present to others for consideration; to yield to the control or power of another) has a better picture of what it means to Follow Christ. The word submit is made up of sub (down) and mittere (send) and the word surrender is made up of sur (up) and render (render-to submit). I personally prefer Surrender because it has me looking up to God (not down on others).
Anyway, Chapter 5’s title is “Surrender – the one decision that always helps.” Read what Ortberg says about surrender (page 62):
“Surrender is not the same thing as passivity. God’s will for your life involves exercising creativity, making choices, and taking initiative. Surrender does not mean being a doormat. It does not mean accept circumstances fatalistically. Often it means you will have to fight to challenge the status quo. It doesn’t mean that you stop using your mind, stop asking questions, or stop thinking critically. Surrender is not a crutch for weak people who cannot handle life.
Instead, surrender is the glad and voluntary acknowledgment that there is a God and it is not me. His purposes are often wiser and better than our desires. Jesus does not come to rearrange the outside of our life the way we want. He comes to rearrange the inside of our life the way God wants.
In surrender, I let go of my life. It is a Copernican revolution of the soul in which I take myself out of the center of the universe and place God there. I yield to Him. I offer obedience.”
Surrender: it’s the choice I have to make in order to Follow 2 Serve.
Surrender: it’s the choice Abraham made on Week 3 – Day 3. In my accidental skipping of days, Week 3 – Day 3 brought me to Genesis 22:1-9 (when I should have been in Genesis 3.) For most people this passage is familiar; for those who are not familiar with it – here’s a brief summary.
God tells Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, up to Moriah and offer him as a burnt offering. It’s a test of Abraham’s faith. Abraham and Isaac arrive at the place of sacrifice where Abraham all but set’s fire to the wood when the Angel of the Lord stops him. Abraham then finds a ram for the offering (click here to read the entire account) in the bushes.
While reading this passage – these three words jumped out at me: “Here I Am”
Abraham says them when God speaks to him informing him he is to go to Moriah; they are spoken again by Abraham when Isaac calls out to him to ask where the offering is; and Abraham speaks them again when the Angel of the Lord calls out to him, preventing him from setting the fire.
So, what’s the connection between “Here I Am” and the “Topic” surrender?
For me, “Here I Am” says to God that I’m listening. That I’m ready to do what He tells me to do. That I’m willing to Surrender everything I have – my time, my thoughts, my plans, my emotions (see, I told you I struggled with this topic) – to Follow Him. It says to God that He is God, and I’m not. (Ortberg begins Chapter 5 with this sentence: “There is a God. It is not you.”)
For Abraham, “Here I Am” said I Love You so much that I am willing to do exactly what you tell me to do. Take my son; I surrender.
You’d think after learning how God used Abraham’s “Here I Am” I’d be ready to write this earlier today but God had other plans. After a nap (major sinus headache), God showed me He wasn’t through with today’s “Topic” by bringing me to the calling of the prophet Isaiah.
Consider these words in connection with the word Surrender – “Here Am I.”
Here Am I – the words spoken by Isaiah during his encounter with the seraphim (Isaiah 6:1-13). He speaks them after hearing the Lord ask, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Don’t read over these words – Isaiah’s “Here Am I” is different from Abraham’s “Here I Am.”
Where Abraham says I’m listening in order to surrender, Isaiah says – Here, take me as I am. You’ve cleansed me from my sin so I can be used. Send me. I am willing. I Surrender All!
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether I say – “Here I Am” or “Here Am I” – both involve the “Topic” Surrender. A topic I’m working on surrendering to. But For now, just let me surrender myself to my bed with my books.
“Lord, may I be able to surrender to You in order to Follow 2 Serve.”