Two hundred years after Christ, China’s Han Dynasty began its ruthless conquest of neighboring territories. During a particular battle, an enemy soldier, knowing he was defeated, stripped off part of his shirt and waved it in the air. It was an act of surrender – thus began the tradition of ending a battle by waving the white flag. For the 1st-century Roman soldiers, their ‘white flag’ was their shield. When surrendering, a centurion would drop his sword and raised his shield above his head – an act of defenseless yielding. An act of surrender.
The Bible teaches that every person has a ‘free will.’ Since Eden, we’ve been making choices and dealing with the consequences. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they aren’t. God doesn’t force anyone to do what He wants (although He is more-than-able, yet He is much-too-gracious). Satan would force you to do his bidding, but he can’t (so he manipulates, deceives, and never delivers on promises). Most times, what we want and what God wants are not in parallel. In fact, the Bible is clear that our desires are not God’s desires. What are we to do? Wave the white flag: surrender.
Being saved is, at its root, a humble act of surrender. It is admitting that you can’t win the war against sin. It’s surrendering to what Jesus did on the cross instead of trying to fight the battle of righteousness by yourself. It is throwing in the towel of self-effort and, by faith, resigning to God’s grace. Charles Stanley once told of his Evangelism Professor’s ‘Impossible Test.’ So much information was required, it was impossible to pass… yet there was an out. On the last page of the test, the simple instruction to sign your name and you would receive a 100%. The only catch, you weren’t allowed to try to take the test first and then sign your name… it was all or nothing. There would be no combination of effort and grace – no mixture of faith and works. So it is with our soul’s salvation – if we surrender, then we win (Romans 11:6).
The Point of Surrender
When you got saved, you got all of God – but He didn’t get all of you! Rev. 3:20 says that He is knocking at a door in your heart. It might not be the front door, maybe it’s a closet where you keep all your skeletons. Maybe its a secret room you have never let anyone into. It’s time to open the door. Surrender is opening the door to God and letting Him come in and fix things.
From a young age, I was taught to not be a quitter… “Never give up!” We think surrender is weakness – but really, it’s wisdom. Most compare surrender with failure, but in reality it’s success. It’s not letting go, it’s holding on to the right things. Surrender is not defeat – especially with God – it’s victory in the truest sense.
-Surrender your control. Loosen your grip of the circumstances and be honest with God about who you’re not.
-Surrender your pride and independence. Partner with an ‘armor-bearer’ for encouragement and accountability.
-Surrender the glory. When something in life goes right, when success finds you… give God the credit He deserves!
Lieutenant Hirro Onada never realized this. He fought as the last Japanese soldier for 29 years after WWII had ended. He would not surrender, he would not back down or give in. At some point, his bravery had turned to madness. Somewhere along the way, his pure loyalty had become a lonely hell; and we feel nothing but pity for the prematurely aged 52-year old. That’s exactly what Christians who have surrendered think of you, if you have not surrendered. Why fight a battle you cannot win? Why continue to kick against the pricks from the Creator? Why not open the door and find what you’ve been looking for all this time?
We find Jacob at the point of surrender in Genesis 32:24-31. He has been a conniving trickster who has made enemies of his family – but that’s all about to change. He wrestles with the Angel (probably a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Jesus Christ). During this encounter, He surrenders – something Jacob has never done before. He waves the white flag. He raises his defenses. He throws in the towel. Only to find it is the greatest decision he’s ever made… because, from today on, he would be different – much different.
1. New Priorities – He didn’t just want something from God, wanted to know God (face-to-face).
Do you need a change in priorities? Do you put God first in all you do? How might you be better?
2. New Power – His new name (favor with God & men). In our weakness, God reveals His strength (2 Cor. 12:9).
Are you living in your strength or in God’s? Isn’t it time you surrendered and experienced God’s mighty power?
3. New Perspective – He would see things & people differently – not manipulative, but ministering.
How do you see other people? Do you see what you can get out of them or what you can do for them?
4. New Pace – His limp would slow him down to develop better relationships with his family.
Is your family confident in your love? In what ways can you improve your family bond?