My wife and I, along with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson recently spent some time in Italy for 2 weeks. One of our main reasons for going, other than Italy is a beautiful place with wonderful people, was to come along side a group of 10 American students from Ole Miss who were spending the summer ministering to college students in Rome. The focus of my times with these students was to share my story and my journey of surrender to God.
This is some of what I shared with them - I have been on a journey of surrender for over 38 years since I became a Christian in college. I quickly discovered that to try to live the Christian life on my own strength was futile and miserable. It was as I began to discover this paradox of the Christian life that to really live my life in a way that reflected God and was satisfying, I had to surrender. One of the first passages I learned this in was John 15:5, where Jesus said, "I am the Vine and you are the branches, if anyone remains in me and I in Him, you will bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." This was a life changing realization for me - if I would surrender and be dependent on Christ and the Holy Spirit, He would work in and through me.
Well, I wish I could say I figured that out 38 years ago and had seen God work nonstop through me over these years but reality is that I have often tried to take the control of my life back and the result has been worry, anxiety and regret. I also learned about confession and fortunately, God continues to work in and thorough me as I yield to Him and His greater purposes. I like this translation of Romans 12:1 from the New Living Translation, "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him."
David Benner in his book, "Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality" says, "Christian surrender is saying yes to God's yes! to me. It begins as I experience His wildly enthusiastic, reckless loving affirmation of me. It grows out of soaking myself in this love so thoroughly that love for God springs up in response. Surrender to His love is the work of the Spirit, making His love ours and His nature ours. This is the core of Christian spiritual transformation."
Joe Bucha, LPC