I remember hearing the song during altar calls at the end of church services – “I surrender all.  I surrender all.  All to thee, my blessed Saviour.  I surrender all.”  One of the verses said “All to Jesus, I surrender.  All to Him I freely give.  I will ever love and trust Him.  In His presence daily live.”  This was the call to non-believers to come and give their lives to Jesus, surrendering completely to His will and right over their life.

I did that.  I gave my life to Christ.  I accepted Him as my Saviour.  I asked Him to come into my heart.  I asked Him to forgive me of my sin and to be my Lord and Master.  I surrendered all.  Or did I?  Since that time, I have spent most of my life trying to figure out how to live this life as a Christian, giving honor and glory to God as I endeavor to do the best that I can.  Yet, it has become increasingly apparent that total surrender is not something that I have ever freely given.

There are certain things I was sure I had surrendered.  I surrendered my time!  I surrendered my time on Sunday morning, Sunday night and a couple hours a week for Bible studies.  I surrendered time once a day for devotions and prayer.  I even surrendered large blocks of time to conferences, marriage seminars, revival meetings and other church sponsored functions for the purpose of getting more information on how to more effectively make the best decisions regarding my life.  All the time, in between, I proclaimed that time was God’s, but I lived as though it was mine.  If I decided to spend my time vegging out in front of the television, visiting with friends, working late at the office or traveling away for a vacation, I did so with some awareness of God, but I didn’t see that time as surrendered to Him.  My jobs were the jobs I chose – getting God’s input when making the decision – but not seeing the hours I worked as being surrendered to all that Jesus longed to work through them.  So really, I surrendered a very small percentage of my time freely to God.

I surrendered my money!  I gave God His 10% faithfully.  I would pay Him first!  Yet, the whole idea of surrender is not giving a percentage of what you hold, but all that you have.  I figured God knew all the bills and indebtedness I had accrued and He understood that I couldn’t surrender any more than the 10% agreed upon in scripture thousands of years ago.  Whether or not those arrangements which required money were a result of my surrender to God’s will didn’t matter.  I had to use what I got for what I had set up!

I surrendered my relationships!  I gave God my marriage and my family.  I told Him over and over again how He was in control of those areas of life and I released them into His care.  I still tried to get my husband to learn the principles I felt were the most important in life.  I still worried and fretted over the activities family members were involved in.  I surrendered in word, but not indeed.  I still maintained control over the aspects of my family’s life they would let me control and I did not see the need to relinquish my hold on their lives to the One who I had surrendered my all to.

Then I came to see the Christian life as one that happens because of a complete exchange. ” I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul said.  “Nevertheless, I live, Yet not I, but Christ.”  The exchange is my life for the life of Christ.  He comes to dwell within the Christian and the total surrender means that all things are now under His control, direction and will.  This changed everything.  It continues to change everything.  I became acutely aware of just how little of my life I had surrendered to Jesus.

Now I realize that my time, everyday, every moment, belongs to God.  I live with the recognition that He can change my schedule, make easy tasks take a long time to accomplish and make hard tasks easy to overcome.  Because my time belongs to Him, my location does too.  Jesus will live His life through me at home, in the office, at a dining table, in the car, in another town, with many people or few people or even alone.  I still make plans, but I make them with the idea of surrender in my mind.  I may think I’m having a leisurely meal at home with my husband, but may end up spending the evening listening to a distraught friend.  I may plan for several people to come together for meeting, but may find myself alone as I surrender my time – all the time.

I would have to say that I still struggle at times with the idea that all the finances that come into my hands are actually not mine at all.  Saying that is easy, but letting God direct the use of all the funds that I receive is challenging to say the least.  I can no longer use the world’s prescribed course of action as my own default.  If there is a bill due which I have funds to pay, I must still surrender those funds to be used as God directs, not as I desire.  Along with that, as I have surrendered to Christ all I have, I have also surrendered any activity which would promise to use funds (that now belong to Him) for purposes that I deem valid and “good”.

The one thing I have surrendered the least of is my own understanding.  I still lean to the understanding based on experiences, advice and other input from areas outside of the mind of Christ.  Many, many times throughout the day, when faced with decisions – whether seemingly insignificant or life-altering – I am faced with my own understanding first.  Having surrendered all to Christ, I can no longer rely on that understanding, no matter how trustworthy it has seemed to be in the past.  I am learning to turn aside from my own box of ideas and let the One who is now my Life bring to my mind His thoughts and intents.

Currently, we are planning to move into town – a result of God’s desire for our surrendered lives.  We have put our house up for sale and are going through the ups and downs of a real estate deal.  Yesterday it looked like it would all work out nicely for everyone involved.  We would be able to get the equity we had in the house and the buyer would be able to assume the loan without a hitch.  Today, the buyer is not interested in assuming the loan and wants to get an appraisal and incur additional expenses in order to try to get financing.  In the midst of it all, we know our equity could be threatened by a low appraisal price due to the depressed economy.  An immediate need to “protect our investment” came up and once again, we are faced with the reality that surrendering all means so much more than we ever imagined.  As I struggled with the potential outcome, I recognized that I had surrendered my right to decide where I would live, but I still wanted to dictate how “my” money was handled.  The question “Will you surrender how much you get back from the sale of your house?” came ringing through and I realized, again, this is not mine to decide.

Sometimes I have thought of my areas of surrender with a twinge of self-righteousness, but as I see the way I still hesitate to live in the truth of God’s total reign over my life, I am ashamed of my arrogance.  Except His love draws and empowers my rebellious heart to deny my self-centered will, I would never surrender anything.  Without Him I can and will do nothing that has any eternal purpose.  With Him living, loving and working through me, all things are possible.  The surrendered life is murderous to the flesh and its desires, but the glorious Life of Jesus is a wonder to behold.

So again, I sing the old song, but now with new understanding.  The posture of the song is “Humbly at His feet I bow.”  The desire is “Make me, Saviour, wholly Thine.”  The revelation is “Take me, Jesus, take me now.”  As I respond to the stirring of God’s Spirit within me, He will take me to that place where all is His and I can freely give what was never mine anyway.