“Surrender.” What does this word tell you? In literal terms, surrender means “to give up something to another person.” It also means to relinquish something granted to you. This could include your possessions, power, goals, even your life.
Christians today hear much about the surrendered life. But what does it mean, exactly? The surrendered life is the act of giving back to Jesus the life he granted you. It’s relinquishing control, rights, power, direction, all the things you do and say. It’s totally resigning your life over to his hands, to do with as he pleases.
Jesus himself lived a surrendered life: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). “I seek not mine own glory” (8:50). Christ never did anything on his own. He made no move and spoke no word without being instructed by the Father. “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things…. For I do always those things that please him” (8:28–29).
Jesus’ full surrender to the Father is an example of how we all should live. You may say, “Jesus was God in flesh. His life was surrendered before he even came to earth.” But the surrendered life is not imposed on anyone, including Jesus.
“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17–18).
Jesus was telling us, “Make no mistake. The act of self-surrender is totally within my power to do. I’m choosing to lay down my life. And I’m not doing it because some man told me to. Nobody’s taking my life from me. My Father gave me the right and the privilege to lay down my life. He also gave me the choice to pass up this cup and avoid the cross. But I choose to do it, out of love and full surrender to him.”
Our heavenly Father has given all of us this same right: the privilege to choose a surrendered life. No one is forced to yield his life to God. Our Lord doesn’t make us sacrifice our will and give back our lives to him. He freely offers us a Promised Land, full of milk, honey and fruit. But we may choose not to enter that place of fullness.
The truth is, we can have as much of Christ as we want. We can go as deep in him as we choose, living fully by his word and direction.