I often joke that someday I will write a book titled, “Formed with Joy,” detailing the ways God used Joy, our GSP of 13 years, to shape me spiritually and deepen my journey with Jesus. God brought Joy, an unexpected puppy, into my life 13 years ago to show me Himself and teach me of His goodness and grace. With Joy I discovered more fully the delight of living in deep communion with Jesus, the Lover of my soul.
Now, I wonder if a second variation of the book might also include “Growth with Grace.” In God’s mysterious ways, He continues to reveal both more of His character and His spiritual realities to me through Grace, our eight-month old GSP puppy. Whether you discover yourself nodding your head in agreement or not, I promise that I haven’t lost my mind 🤪, but I definitely notice the ways God instructs my heart through His creatures, like household pets.
Grace likes to lay on her back. She rubs her back along the carpet with her head face up and turned over to the side, front arms extended up and out, back legs stretched long, and her hips wide open. She lies totally abandoned. Her skin pulls tight and her tummy takes on the appearance of a pink sweater. Although this position demonstrates complete vulnerability, Grace rests without any concern or fear. I find myself chuckling at Grace’s antics as she scoots across the floor in this stretched out backside posture, and yet I experience insight from God as I wonder about her surrendered stance.
Not long ago a friend and I discussed the posture of surrender. Two views of surrender surfaced through our conversation. We imagined surrender looking like an individual lying face down, arms outstretched with empty palms down upon the ground. This pose displays relinquishment, humility, and yieldedness. At times, this frontal face down position reveals the surrender within the soul, yet at other moments, I find myself reflecting on Grace’s exposed tummy and recognize another form of surrender. This different form of surrender involves exposure, freedom, and trust. Both postures of surrender lead to a deeper experience of God’s presence, power, and peace. When we surrender ourselves to God, we know Him intimately and allow His faithful character to form and grow us.
Which posture best describes surrender in your life? Does surrender “look” different depending upon the circumstance or issue?
Surrender – To cease resistance; to submit to God’s authority; to abandon oneself entirely; to give oneself in to.
The Bible offers many examples to show us what surrender looks like while living life. Although possibly confused, Noah trusted God’s directions. Abraham released his son, Isaac, in obedience to God’s command. Moses yielded to God and led Israel into freedom. In humility Deborah directed victory for God’s people. Esther relinquished her safety to the care and protection of God. Submitting to God’s authority, Daniel chose faithfulness in spite of cultural pressures. Mary lived exposed as she carried the Son of God. After repentance, Peter abandoned himself to follow Jesus Christ. Paul yielded his ways to the ways of God. John gave himself to the love of Jesus through service and sacrifice. Ultimately, Jesus surrendered His will to the will of the Father. God’s Word points the way to living surrendered to Him. He shows us the way to live without resistance to His invitations.
Take a moment and ponder one of these stories of surrender from the Scriptures. From its example, how are you challenged and encouraged?
Surrender to God involves obedience, relinquishment, repentance, and trust. As we live with humility and abandonment to the will of God we experience joy and delight in Him. We encounter safety and security in the Lord. When we relinquish selfishness, pride, and fear, our dependence upon God grows, and we see His faithfulness and trustworthiness in our lives. By confessing sin, resistance to God’s voice within the soul shatters, so that freedom, light, and renewal flood the surrendered and exposed heart, leading to spiritual blessing.
Where might God invite you to live with humility and abandonment? Listen for the whisper of God – what do you need to relinquish and confess? Receive His blessing to your soul.
Jim Elliot, a man martyred in 1956 as a missionary, wrote “One does not surrender a life in an instant. That which is life-long can only be surrendered in a lifetime.” (Shadow of the Almighty, pg. 91). God invites each of us to embrace Him, submit to His authority, and trust His goodness and grace. Following Jesus Christ involves yielding ourselves to God each and every day. The steadfast love of our mighty God sets the posture for surrender – love. God’s heart for us shows us how to live with a heart dedicated to Him.
How surrendered are you to the will and ways of God? Do you live more surrendered today than yesterday? Allow the steadfast love of God to lead you to surrender your heart to Him.
I love David’s declaration in Psalm 108:13: “With God we shall do valiantly.” Living a life of surrender requires that we live valiantly. Living exposed, abandoned, and yielded involves bravery, courage, and a valiant attitude. However, as David pointed out, we do not live valiantly in our own strength or with our own thoughts and attitudes. We live valiantly surrendered lives with God. God offers all that we need to surrender to Him. He makes us valiant and brave as we live surrendered.
Ignatius of Loyola penned one of my favorite prayers of surrender. Its title, Suscipe, means “Receive.” Join me by praying this prayer before God, releasing ourselves to Him and asking Him to take and receive our surrendered souls.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will.
All I have and call may own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours, do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
Whichever your posture of surrender, whether face up or face down, live valiantly with God. Give to God all of yourself and receive His extravagant love and grace. Welcome God’s formation of your soul and grow into deeper communion and connection the One who loves you.
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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
Romans 6:13 – Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness.
Matthew 11:28-29 – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.
Elizabeth Elliot. Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (Lives of Faith) San Francisco, CA. 2009.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Surrender: The Heart God Controls (Revive Our Hearts Series). Chicago, IL. 2005.
Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.
Hillsong Worship. I Surrender. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7jXASBWwwI
Lincoln Brewster. Surrender. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oyHpLg32c8