Surrender vs. Submission – We Have a Choice

Are-we-willing-to copyWhen we think of Good Friday and Easter we often think of what it means to “give it all” as Jesus did. We talk of surrender and submission to God’s will. But they are not the same thing.

In The Importance of Being Foolish, Brennan Manning says:

But there is an essential difference between submission and surrender. The former is the conscious acceptance of reality. There is a superficial yielding, but tension continues…It is halfhearted acceptance. It is described by words such as resignation, compliance, acknowledgement, concession. There remains a feeling of reservation, a tug in the direction of non-acceptance.

Surrender, on the other hand, is the moment when my forces of resistance cease to function, when I cannot help but respond to the call of the Spirit.
The ability to surrender is a gift of God. However eagerly we may desire it, however diligently we may strive to acquire it, surrender cannot be attained by personal endeavor.


Another person put it this way:


When we submit, we “give in,” keeping the focus on ourselves.
When we surrender, we “give up,” putting the focus where it belongs: on God.


Jesus decided to go beyond submission to the reality He was facing – He surrendered full to the Father. To put everything into His hands.


I wonder if I could ever fully surrender and let God have His way. Sometimes we sing about it – “I surrender all…” – and I know it is easy to surrender my all in a church service. It’s when Monday comes, or when we get the phone call, or someone gets the job after we went through 4 interviews, or when they say, “We need to do some more tests.”

Oswald Chambers, in the daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest on March 8 of this year asks,

Are we willing to surrender our grasp on all that we possess, our desires, and everything else in our lives? Are we ready to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?

I would like to say yes. Indeed, in my heart, I do. But I need others to help spur me on, and I need to lean fully into grace if there is any chance at all.

So I leave you with these words from Chambers:

If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.

What more can we do? It is the only way toward true freedom. Resurrection Day freedom.


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