Absolute – unconditional, complete, having no deficiency, perfect, finished.
Surrender – the act of yielding or resigning one’s person or the possesion of something, into the power of another; the surrender of a right or of claims.
(Those are a conglomeration of definitions I gleaned from Webster’s 1828 dictionary, by the way. Not word for word, but the concept.)
It’s a topic that has been on my brain for a few months now. (Yes, since STEP Advanced if you were wondering. A lot of things started during that month. That’s just the way it works.) Absolute surrender. Isn’t that what Christ asks of us? He doesn’t want something casual or convenient, something you pull out on Sunday mornings. He doesn’t want something half-hearted that never gets around to the committment. He doesn’t want something that’s dependant on the circumstances.
He gave us unconditional love so that we would in turn give Him unconditional surrender.
People talk a lot about compartmentalizing your faith. Or at least I’ve heard it more times than I can count. But it never really occurred to me that I was guilty of it. It never occurred to me that by fighting with Him I was keeping Him out of part of my life. That I was keeping Him as far away from my emotions as I could. (And then had the audacity to whine to Him about my depression… Sheesh.)
Well, after our first week at STEP Advanced we hit our first full Saturday. A young woman named Stacy Smith came and spent pretty much the entire day giving a talk on emotions and all that fun stuff. At one point, she gave us each a piece of string and six or seven beads each and sent us off by ourselves. The idea was to think about the different emotions that filled our hearts, and use the beads to represent each one as we turned it over completely to God. In the end, we would end up with a bracelet (or a string, in my case) of beads that represented that surrender of emotions. (My explanation makes a lot less sense than hers did, by the way.)
Well, I figured this would be a long process, so I grabbed seven beads (since that was the bigger number she gave us) and a string. And what I realized in that dark corner of the staircase at the back of the auditorium…was that I had a lot of anger and frustration and hurt that I had been keeping to myself. And I was tired of it. I can’t tell you how hard I cried as I gave it to God. It took about four separate beads just to get it all out. (The other three had more to do with insecurity and inadequacy and things of that sort. Lovely combination, ain’t it?)
I don’t know that one can achieve total surrender all at once, but ever since that weekend it has been something I have wanted. Surrender is hard, it can hurt just like tearing out a nasty weed that has rooted itself deep in my heart. It means giving up everything, with no guarantee of getting any of it back. Ever. It means letting go of everything, no matter how dear. Because if you’re holding onto something of this world, your hands are too full to embrace Christ. It means totally dumping out all the contents of your life and letting God pick over them to determine what needs to go.
I have only just barely begun to understand what total, absolute, unconditional surrender looks like, but one thing I have learned – it is the the most joyous, freeing thing you can do. When you give up your claim on your own life…that is when you really find it.