I’ve noticed a trend.
At first, I was excited.
But as the trend continued, I became confused.
And then I became disappointed.
The trend is surrender. I’ve noticed it has become more and more popular — in books, sermons, and songs. It started with people like David Platt and Kyle Idleman, and has thrived quite nicely to this very day. You not only can be challenged to complete, daily surrender to Christ when you pick up a book at the Christian bookstore, but you can be challenged by lyrics of surrender on the radio or quotes on surrender on Facebook. It’s everywhere.
You see, surrender has become fashionable.
And yet, not.
The more I read, heard, and observed people talking about complete surrender, the more confused I became.
Yes, they spoke of trusting God with their lives — yet nothing in their lives spoke of that surrender. They did nothing that really showed a dependence on God’s power.
Yes, they sang the famous lyrics from Oceans, “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” Yet their feet stayed on very dry ground. How could this be?
How could someone talk, sing, and proclaim surrender and complete trust of God to control their lives and yet remain totally and completely… safe?
Where was the faith to step out of the boat?
Where was the radical dependence on God?
How is it that they seemed more comfortable, not more challenged?
After further observation and consideration, I began to have a few ideas.
Could it be that it had become so popular to talk of surrender, faith, trust, and grace, that people no longer considered what it truly meant?
Could it be that when surrender became most fashionable it was often connected to other words and statements that could be misinterpreted? What I mean by that is this: Take for instance the song, Oceans. As I quoted earlier, “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”
I’ve discovered that while that means one thing to me, it means something completely different to someone else. To some, it means if you have faith, Jesus will do more for you than your wildest dreams, that you will achieve more than you can imagine, and that you will have an amazing and happy life.
To me, it means following Jesus into the great unknown. But even that, really, can mean different things.
Let’s break it down even more: It means: Following. Jesus.
Perhaps the problem is that we’ve begun to equate surrender and faith with ourselves, not God.
That when we sing about being called out of the boat and onto the waves, of reaching things we could never image, we think that is about us, our dreams. Could it be that we’re trying to achieve our own goals, reaching for the stars, and… using God to get there?
God is the means to our end of self-glorification, comfort, and achievements. We want adventure, but we want it on our terms. We want success, but how the world defines it. We want victory, but not over sin. We like the idea that God is our champion, but not because we want to fight His battles, but because we want Him to fight our battles.
God’s kingdom works much differently.
God promises amazing things for those who surrender — but the starting point is recognizing that what God has for me is not going to make sense and fit in with my worldly mindset.
And then recognizing that in order to receive the promise, I must have faith, which requires surrender, which always, always, always costs something. Faith which costs you nothing is not faith.
Getting out of the boat isn’t about you, it’s about Jesus. It’s about getting to Him, not using Him. It’s about following Him, not asking Him to follow you. It’s about His goals, not yours — and ultimately, it’s about His kingdom.
Always, every time, it’s about Him, and it is never about us. It’s not to feed our pride, to help us become more successful in our world, more powerful, more beautiful, more accomplished. In fact, the whole point of grace and walking on the waves is that it’s something we are completely unable to do — it has to be God.
Which makes people look to Him, not us.
How quick we are to make things about us.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
When Peter stepped out of the boat, he wasn’t showing off to the other disciples, calling out for attention — his eyes were fixed on Jesus. And that moment he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. Because it was Jesus’ power, not his. His faith caused him to seek Jesus – his fear caused him to look around.
GRACE: The power God gives to do what God says. In order to experience it, you must get out of your comfort zone, get past what you want and your own goals and dreams, your own ideas of what will bring happiness, to believe that Jesus is better, that what he has is better – and for that faith to overcome your fear, so that you will take that first step out of the boat, eyes fixed on Jesus.
That, my friends, is where the magic happens.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.