Now that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one. There is nothing courageous in giving up, nothing noteworthy in surrendering to the enemy. So there is no such a thing as a courageous surrender. Surrender is for cowards. Or am I missing something here? Maybe it depends on to whom I am surrendering, whether surrender is an act of cowardice or an act of courage? In my Bible lesson today, I read that obedience is defined as “courageous dependence” moving into action. This got me to thinking.
If I am going to obey someone, I first have to trust them. If I find them reliable, I may come to trust them, and to rely on them – hence the dependence. I have been betrayed more often than I would have predicted in this life. But then, when is betrayal ever expected? It has blindsided me every time. That’s what betrayal is – harm at the hands of a friend. Harm at the hands of an enemy is expected – that’s what enemies do – they harm you. Therefore, no betrayal is involved. Only when someone I trust harms me is it a betrayal.
So my question becomes “Who can I trust?” If I don’t depend on anyone, don’t trust anyone, perhaps I am better off. I can rely solely on myself. Maybe that is the definition of courage? I have been let down enough in this life. I am not brave enough to trust just anyone with my daily life or my eternal life, either for that matter. Still, I recall these words from Jeremiah 29:11,
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
So can I trust my Creator with my life? Ironic if I don’t, since He’s the One who gave me my life in the first place. But He gave me something else along with life. He gave me free will. I have choices to make every day. We all do. The choices have always been ours to make. Centuries ago Joshua made this clear to the Israelites when he said these words,
“. . . then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Joshua made a choice. He chose to serve and to obey God. This decision required courage on his part because Joshua and his family were living surrounded by people like the Amorites, who worshiped other gods instead of the Lord God, Creator of the Universe. By making this public choice, Joshua was courageously depending on God to protect him and his family from his hostile neighbors.
Abraham was another person who chose courageous dependence or courageous surrender as I call it. And he did this more than once. When God called Abraham to pack up, leave his homeland and set out on a journey with an unknown destination, Abraham obeyed. We read about this in Genesis 12:1 where –
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’ . . . So Abram left, as the Lord had told him;”
And thus began an historic journey of faith which God used to bless all nations, as He told Abraham that He would do. But Abraham had to walk by faith. God didn’t give him a map, an itinerary or other pertinent details of what was to come. God simply said of the destination, “the land I will show you.” Ok, not real descriptive. If Abraham trusted God, he would have to show it by his obedience to what God asked him to do. If he obeyed, packed up and left his home, he would be totally dependent on God for what was to happen next. Abraham didn’t know the way, he didn’t even know where they were going, so how could he know the way? Only God knew.
Abraham chose courageous dependence. He courageously chose to trust God, putting that trust into action by obeying God, making himself totally dependent on God for his future. Abraham surrendered his plans for himself and his life to God’s plan for him. That’s what I call courageous surrender. Surrender that gives up control voluntarily and puts me at the mercy of whoever it is that I am surrendering to, takes courage every time.
To surrender I have to have the courage to trust, the courage to believe, the courage to act by obeying, the courage to give up control, the courage to become dependent on the one to whom I am surrendering. This then, is courageous surrender.
Abraham faced this choice again on a mountain one day when God asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. This instruction from God made no sense because God had told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the grains of sand on the shore. So killing Isaac before Isaac even had any offspring of his own, made no earthly sense
Nevertheless, Abraham obeyed God. He went up the mountain taking along the wood for the burnt offering and his son, Isaac. As they walked up the mountain, Isaac realized something was missing and asked his father, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Good question, don’t you think? Again Abraham chose courageous dependence and he answered his son,
“God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8)
Abraham chose to trust God and to obey Him, thereby making himself dependent on God to provide what he needed for the sacrifice that God required of him. What courage it must have taken for Abraham to climb up that mountain and do everything that God asked of him, surrendering even his own son to God’s will. That’s courageous surrender! And God, who required the sacrifice of Abraham, also provided that very sacrifice Himself.
“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Genesis 22:13)
Which brings us to the greatest act of courageous surrender ever. Jesus prayed before His crucifixion these words, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Jesus, being fully God and fully man, chose to surrender to His Father’s will for Him, which was death on a cross. This certainly was the ultimate act of courageous surrender. Jesus’s own words in John 10:17-18 make clear that He chose to submit to the Father’s will, He was not coerced. (likewise, we each have a choice)
“The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.”
God, who imposes my penalty, also pays my price. God provided the ram for Abraham and He provided Jesus for me. Jesus modeled courageous surrender – He requires nothing less of me, if I choose to follow Him. Like Abraham, I have to walk by faith each day because only God knows the end from the beginning. Jesus’s call is clear –
“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
I will take action – obedience is courageous dependence in action – deny myself, take up my cross, follow Christ – to the land He will show me – like a branch on the Vine, totally dependent on Him – I will courageously surrender to my Savior and Lord again and again – trusting Him to bring me safely through the desert to the land He will show me. I do not need a map. God is my guide. I have His Word on that –
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)
sincerely, Grace Day