White flag. Tap out. Give up. Submit. Yield. Say, “Uncle.” Throw in the towel. Surrender. I don’t know anyone who likes to do it. Surrendering is admitting defeat. It’s embarrassing really. I, like you, don’t like to give up. I don’t like to face defeat. It goes against everything in me. Maybe you’re the same. When all the odds are against you, your theme song starts playing. Maybe it’s “The Eye of the Tiger” or “This is my Fight Song” or whatever, but it plays and pumps you up to keep you from surrendering and giving in.
In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, Jerusalem was under siege and there was very little hope. God was pronouncing His judgement against the people who had turned their back on Him. They refused to repent so God was sending them into captivity. The king secretly went to Jeremiah to ask what he should do. Jeremiah told him if he wanted to live, he needed to surrender. In Jeremiah 38:19, the king responded, “But I am afraid to surrender” (NLT). He was too afraid of how he would appear if he surrendered, so he disobeyed and it cost him his freedom.
Romans 8 tells us that the flesh and the spirit are at a constant war with each other. The flesh wants to do things its own way, and the spirit wants us to follow God’s way. For so many Christians, it’s a daily struggle and a guess as to which side will win. As Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” More times than not, our flesh wins because we fail to surrender to God’s plan for our lives. Surrender is so foreign to our flesh that we fight against what the spirit is trying to accomplish in our lives.
In Luke 14:33, Jesus put it this way, “So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple” (AMPC). If we truly want to be God’s disciples, we have to be willing to surrender all we have for all He offers. According to Romans 8:13, when we surrender to what the spirit wants, we will live. You and I are given the same choice that the king of Israel had. Don’t make the same mistake he did. Surrender and live.
What is God asking you to surrender today in order to be His disciple?
I’m on a trip to Israel. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of my insights from going to the places throughout this country that was written about so much in the Bible. One of the first things you notice here in Israel is how tough the terrain is. It’s a very mountainous country, but these aren’t friendly mountains. They are covered in rocks and they protrude from the ground in an unforgiving manner.
As we drive through southern Israel, you can’t help but think how difficult it must have been to travel by foot. Not only is the terrain rough, but this time of year, it’s very hot. As we traveled from Masada to Jericho to Jerusalem, we stopped to look at the Mount of Temptation. It is where it is believed that Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting and was tempted by the enemy. If in fact it was the place, it would have made a difficult fast nearly unbearable.
Matthew 4:1 says, “THEN JESUS was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil”. It’s important to note here that He was led by the Holy Spirit to go into this place. The wilderness is a tough, unforgiving place, but when it is the Holy Spirit leading us, we can trust God will protect us and give us everything we need.
It’s not always comfortable where the Spirit leads us. Sure we like it when God leads us to the mountain top, but that mountain isn’t always a beautiful mountain. The road can be hard, and the mountain can be rough. The Spirit will often take us to seek and to save the lost. In many cases, they are in the wilderness of life themselves living a rough life. To find them, we have to leave the green pastures and endure rough terrain.
With the leading of the Holy Spirit we cannot fail. Of course, His definition of success and failure may be different than our own. We only see in part, so we can only know in part what God’s plan is. He sees the bigger picture and knows what needs to happen in order to accomplish His will. Our responsibility is to follow the Spirit’s leading wherever that may be, even if it’s the wilderness. If we are willing to trust Him, and to follow His leading, we can rest assured He will not let us fail in the wilderness.