When you surrender to God, you give up control and yield to Him. Easy enough…no, not at all!
Learning how to surrender to God is one of the hardest but most important things in your faith journey.
Surrendering to anyone or anything feels counterintuitive and unnatural. Many see surrender as weak, a sign of defeat, and just not an option.
In sports, wars, and arguments surrender is a sign that we have lost the battle. And in daily life, you lose battles, surrender and ‘wave the white flag’ many times.
Driving into Target’s parking lot, I found the perfect spot and waited for a car to back out. Suddenly another car came out of nowhere and turned right into my spot!
I was frustrated but had no choice but to surrender the parking spot to another car. Surrender does not come easily even in parking lots. There is something about winning and maintaining control that can be deeply satisfying even during meaningless interactions.
Even if winning is not in our best interest, our emotions tell us that winning is always in our best interest.
Surrendering to God does not mean defeat, it means we humble ourselves to being led by God instead of our own desires.
Being competitive is how many of us are wired. My natural desire is to win or realize I am not good enough and not even try.
Growing up and crying after losing GoFish or Sorry was not uncommon. And my children struggled with the same distress after losing and surrendering to a winner.
Despite this innate desire to maintain control and win, is it possible to learn how to surrender to God?
Like most things in life, we can learn how to surrender to God if we want to grow closer to Him; the great benefit of surrender is living free and in a bubble of God’s joy and safety.
What Does it Mean to Surrender to God?
When you surrender to God, you are trusting Him with your soul the most significant part of your being. From that place of deep surrender, new freedom erupts.
What if we reframe what surrender to God looks like? Instead of focusing on letting go of something we focus on grabbing something better and more secure than control.
The disciples surrendered to God when they left everything and followed Jesus. They had to relinquish control of their plans, dreams, and family to follow the Son of God. They transformed their identity to become aligned with Jesus’ call and new purpose.
Why would the disciples make such an amazing sacrifice? They knew how much Jesus loved and cared for them and believed in His mission.
Most of us are not required to surrender to this level but we do have to surrender our will which can feel just as difficult.
When we learn how to surrender to God we abandon what we think is right and trust that God knows what is right.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26 NLT
The thing about surrendering to God is that we have to keep choosing it.
Why is it Hard to Surrender to God?
As humans, we are created to protect ourselves and survive. When we are in control of an outcome, we feel better. We trust in what we see and hear and our own will.
And we have our pride. Pride is a sense of deep satisfaction in our abilities and achievements. We all have it and there is nothing wrong with feeling good about ourselves. But it is difficult to surrender to God and be prideful; we must wrestle our pride away and surrender to God.
“Everyone who is proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting and exceedingly offensive to the Lord;
Be assured he will not go unpunished.”
Proverbs 16:5 AMP
In order to learn how to surrender to God, we have to humble ourselves, be willing to lose, be wrong, and be treated unfairly. These things happen whether we surrender or not. We just feel better about defeat if we think we controlled it.
But holding on tightly to control does not lead to freedom in your spirit.
We may be successful in many phases of our life, but control masks as a strength that is actually a weakness stealing our true freedom.
One of my favorite hymns is “I Surrender All” written by J. W. Van DeVenter in 1896. The origins of the song are rooted in DeVenter’s own journey of learning how to surrender.
“For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last, the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, he caused me to sing.”
J.W. Van DeVenter
This empowering song written by a man willing to surrender is attributed to the calling of another great man, Billy Graham.
“In the late 1930s, when popular international evangelist Billy Graham was a student at Florida Bible Institute, he studied and fellowshipped with Judson Van DeVenter, and later stated that Van DeVenter greatly influenced his early preaching. Graham subsequently popularized “I Surrender All” in his massive crusades and revivals, beginning in the late 1940”s.”
Cliff Barrows Crusader Hymns and Hymn Stories
I attended a Billy Graham crusade as a child and still recall the powerful move of the Holy Spirit as hundreds if not thousands of people made their way to the front of the stadium and embraced how to surrender to God.
Although it is difficult to surrender to God, the impact of your decision to trust God will be felt for generations.
Bible Verses on Surrendering to God
Every time I read the Bible with an open spirit, God reveals the truth. The act of sacrificing your time to learn more about Jesus is an example of how to surrender to God.
May these eight verses help you overcome the fear of letting go and boldly surrender your life to God!
8 Bible Verses on How to Surrender to God
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20 NLT
“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”
John 15:7 AMP
“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty, is divided between God and the world.”
James 4:8 MSG
“He said to all of them, “Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses every day, and follow me.”
Luke 9:23 GW
“And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?”
Romans 12:1 TLB
“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time”
1 Peter 5:6 AMP
“Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].”
Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP
“He (Jesus) went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering. “Father,” he prayed, “my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.”
Mark 14:34-36 GNT
How to Surrender to God and Let Go
Surrendering to God is an ongoing decision that never gets easy. But when we invest in our relationship with God, we become aware of our need to perpetually release and surrender.
When circumstances tempt you to grab hold of your surrender, there are two things you can do…worship and pray. From this new place of an encouraged heart, you can love and serve others.
“So through Jesus, we should never stop offering our sacrifice to God. That sacrifice is our praise, coming from lips that speak his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with others, because sacrifices like these are very pleasing to God.”
Hebrews 13:15-16 ERV
When you learn how to surrender to God, you view surrender as a gift and a pathway for growing closer to God. Don’t be discouraged if you are struggling to trust God. Spiritual growth is a lifelong journey!
Pray specifically for Jesus to help you surrender and look to other people who have set a positive example of how to surrender to God.
After surrendering to God you will be empowered to use your spiritual gifts and walk confidently in your identity.
“Surrender, when we are graced with it, is a true gift. When we finally acknowledge that we can’t do it, we give ourselves the opportunity to feel the river of life carrying us, taking us where we need to go, even though we have no idea where that might be.”
If you have learned how to surrender to God and trust Him with your life, I would love to hear your story in the comments!
This post was originally published on ButterflyLiving.org.