One of the biggest challenges for the recovering person is getting to the place of surrender. Not only is this important, it is critical to the recovery process. This can be a tough, especially for those of us who are stubborn and willful! Before we will truly surrender we may have to go to the darkest of all places, possibly near death. What does it mean to surrender your life? Who or what are we surrendering to? The sense of not knowing can be paralyzing for some. We can't go back but we can't go forward either. We're stuck sinking in our own quicksand of uncertainty and doubt. How can we save ourselves? Can we save ourselves?
Webster defines surrender: to yield to the possession or power of another; to give oneself up to an influence, to abandon or relinquish; to resign; submit.
When I read Webster's definitions I see myself walking in sin and addiction having already surrendered; just to the wrong side. I had yielded my power and abandoned myself to my addiction and the evil forces driving it. Usually, when we think of surrendering, we think of a criminal surrendering to the police with their hands up; or perhaps in the old westerns and war movies -- someone waving the white flag of surrender to the opposing forces. In these situations the surrendering party believes they have given up any hope of victory. These are good images of surrender because that is exactly what we must do when we surrender. We have to give up. But when we surrender we actually have hope for real victory.
The key element in the process of true surrender is accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. Unless and until we have done that we are trying to do everything in our own power and we know how that works - it doesn't! We must first humble ourselves before God, fall on our face and confess our sins; acknowledge Jesus' death on the cross and receive God's mercy and forgiveness. Jesus Christ took the pain we suffer in addiction to the cross. Why should we want to continue to carry that ourselves? Healing begins immediately when we give ourselves over to Him and let him carry our burdens for us.
Surrender means to relinquish control over what we consider ours: our property, our time, our "rights". To properly surrender to God we are simply acknowledging that what we "own" actually belongs to Him. But not just what we own, what we think and do also are His. He is the Giver of all good things. Also, the degree in which we surrender determines the degree in which we grow in our character. So if we are still holding on to something, by not surrendering it to God, that can inhibit our potential for spiritual growth and full recovery.
Similar to salvation, surrender is a gift we receive from God; we can't will it for ourselves. But also like salvation, the gift of surrender requires a response from us: acceptance. And there must be fruit: a changed life! Actually living a life surrendered to God is so much easier than trying to do it on our own. But it is a daily choice, sometimes moment by moment, with every breath. So stop right now and do a few deep breathing exercises...God's way in, my way out... You may not be happy about it right now, but in the bigger picture of life, you'll be glad you chose to surrender your pain, your addiction, your life -- to God.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. -- I Peter 5:6-7
Originally posted September 14, 2008