Surrender and Abandonment

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. “ (Romans 12:1)

Surrender and Abandonment are not new concepts; this Biblical principle is seen throughout Scripture. God’s relationship with man is based on his degree of surrender and abandonment. Because of His absolute Holiness and sovereignty, He demands absolute surrender and abandonment of our life.

To the outsider, this may seem like an unreasonable request, encroaching on man’s free spirit and the ability to live his own life on his own terms. However, to the committed follower of Christ, we realize that God in His wisdom knows that unless we are willing to cast ourselves on Him completely, we will go the way of the world. In other words, absolute surrender and abandonment is for our benefit. The deepest contentment and inner peace is found in absolute surrender and abandonment.

When we live in this state we are living in complete trust and dependence upon our Lord. The Biblical principles of “In order to receive we must give” and “In order to save our life we must lose our life” are all connected to the principle of surrender and abandonment.

God wants us in the position that we have no place to turn but Him. He wants us to hold on tightly to nothing but His promises. He wants nothing to be more passionate to us than our love and devotion to Him. The unique thing about this proposition is that it enables us to love our friends, spouse and our children with a quality of love that we could never manufacture on our own. It causes us to love and give ourselves to those who are unlovely, troubled and hopeless. We become a magnet of God’s love to the world.

About this time every year my thoughts move toward how I want next year to be different. Rather than setting a lot of goals that I will probably give up on in a few months, I like to focus my primary New Year’s resolutions on a renewed commitment to surrender and abandonment. I review those areas that I struggle with surrendering. I examine those areas that I have a tendency to surrender and then take back. What are those areas of my life that I just can’t let go of?

I think I am doing pretty well at living the Christian life until I start to examine those areas where there is a lack of surrender and abandonment. One of the things that helps me with this process is to read over various prayers of surrender by saints of past centuries. I have listed a prayer below by Francis Fenelon, a 16th Century priest who was one of the great spiritual voices of France. It is one of the prayers I am focusing on this year. I must admit, reading through this does not give me great pleasure, but it does allow the Holy Spirit to remind me of my inconsistencies.

Please remember that surrender and abandonment is not about “doing more for God”, but about allowing God to do a work in your heart so that you may be in sync with Him. As you read this prayer may the Holy Spirit give you a nudge toward a greater degree of surrender and abandonment.

Dear Lord, I desire to give myself completely to you. Give me the courage and strength to make this leap of faith. My Spirit longs for you. Strengthen my will and my reserve to surrender all of the compartments of my life to you. If I don’t have the strength to give you everything, then draw me by the sweetness of your love. Lord, I know that I am your child and I belong to you. I am horrified by thought that I belong to myself and to my passions! Help me find all my happiness in you, for there is no happiness outside of you.

Why am I afraid to break out of my chains? Do the things of this world mean more to me than you? Am I afraid to give myself to you? What a mistake! It is not even I who would give me to you, but you who would give yourself to me. Take my heart.

What a joy it is to be with you, to be quiet so that I might hear your voice! Feed me and teach me out of your depths. Oh God, you only make me love you. Why should I fear to give you everything and draw close to you? To be left to the world is more frightening than this. Your mercy can overcome any obstacle. I am unworthy of you, but I can become a miracle of your grace. (Francois De Fenelon 1651-1715)

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