Surrender. It means completely giving up. It means to stop resisting. It is submission, yielding, conceding, giving way, deferring. It’s relinquishing, forfeiting, and sacrificing. It means the laying down of arms. Submission has a finality to it.
I remember when I gave in to God. It all started with a challenge. (I could never resist a dare.) I heard a simple missions message that ended with something like this: “Have you ever asked God to send you? Will you pray Isaiah’s prayer?” The speaker was referring to Isaiah 6:8, Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. The speaker suggested that we volunteer.
I knew if I prayed that prayer God might just send me. And, I was afraid of where He might send me. I thought God sent people places they would hate, places that would be hard and ugly and would stretch them past their endurance. I thought those who surrendered became martyrs.
So, like the “good” Christian girl I was, I resisted the challenge. I would not pray that prayer. Why offer . . . that? Why surrender all?
You see, I understood. I knew that, when one prays to be sent, God will send. The place might be home or it could be foreign, but God will send. I also understood that God does the choosing. So, that meant that I had to be willing to go anywhere . . . anywhere in the whole world.
And I wasn’t.
There were several places I wasn’t willing to go—for ridiculous reasons. (Some of you actually live on those fields, so don’t ask.) Suffice it to say that Lou Ann, at seventeen years of age, thought she knew better than God. Such arrogance!
I literally fought with God for around two and a half weeks. It was awful. I knew I had to surrender, but I didn’t trust. I didn’t trust God to order my life. I didn’t think I’d like the outcome. I was scared to pray that prayer.
Today, I look back on that time as one of the dumbest times of my life. Yes, dumb, because I didn’t understand the character of God. I didn’t really know that He has the best plan for each individual’s life. I didn’t see how He fits each person for the task, and that surrender is a daily thing. I had no idea where praying that prayer would take me.
I had no idea how wonderful the ride would be.
After my miserable back and forth with God, I finally prayed, “Here am I; send me.”
I was willing.
In the Bible, we read of many people who offered themselves to do God’s wishes. Let’s look at just a few of them:
- Abraham—Almost to sacrifice his son of promise, Isaac, And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I (Genesis 22:11). Abraham didn’t even hold back his only possibility of fulfilling the promise of descendants that number like the stars. He was willing to kill his own son, if God permitted. But God didn’t, as we know, and Isaac is the type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the willing Lamb of God. Abraham is the type of God the loving Father.
- Moses—When God called him out of the burning bush, his response was, Here am I (Exodus 3:4). He offered himself to God in service. This was the beginning of the most challenging forty years of his life. He got to see the miracles of the parted Sea and the dry land crossing. He got to experience God talking to him face to face. He even got to hide in the rock and watch God pass by! He touched the tablets of the Ten Commandments, written by God’s finger. He led at least a million people forty years, and he ate manna.
- Samuel—When God called, he answered three times with the answer, Here am I. He thought Eli had called him, but it was the Lord. What a submissive attitude!
- Mary, the mother of Jesus—When Gabriel told her she would be the mother of the Messiah and would have a baby by the Holy Spirit, her immediate response was, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38a).
- Jesus—The ultimate submission to God was when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42).
When we pray that prayer, Here am I; send me, we are actually putting another two verses into action. They are Proverbs 3:5-6,
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths.
My big problem was trusting God. It was dumb. It was ignorant. I didn’t understand that God had custom-designed a life plan for me.
Let me share what God did:
- I studied French literally all my life, from early grade school and through college. Where did God put me? Right next to France, learning a language with similar grammar. We have gotten to see most of France on one occasion or another. My dream was to go to Paris once in my life. I’ve been three times.
- I was an art major. Where did God put me? In Europe, smack dab in the middle of amazing art. Everywhere we visit, there is priceless art in quantities I never dreamed of! The Gugghenheim Museum is just over an hour away. The architecture, the castles, the cathedrals . . . . We’ve happened upon monasteries and out-of-the-way places where works are just sitting around, gathering dust. Even in our tiny town, its church is filled with masterpieces from the 1700s.
- I’m a curious person, open, and sometimes louder than I need to be. If you’ve ever been to Spain, you will understand that my personality fits perfectly here.
- I love nature! The Basque region is gorgeous—even when it rains.
The things I feared so much aren’t even factors.
God enjoys surpassing our dreams. He cares about us personally. He wants us to follow Him and to serve Him. And, while we’re serving Him—even in a difficult mission field—he gives us gracious satisfactions. He daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation (Psalm 68:19).
I praise His Name for being patient with me in my struggles, for understanding that I am dust, and for graciously leading my husband and me to Spain. I am thankful for His benefits, the blessings along the way, and most of all, for the privilege of serving Him.
Surrender means no regrets.
(If you have a teen or preteen son or daughter, I would be honored for you to share my story with him/her.)