Years ago when I started to work at America’s Keswick, Chaplain John Caruthers was working in the Colony of Mercy. He was known for a sign on the side of his file cabinet that read simply, YIELD! On occasion he also would pound his fist on the podium either in the Dining room or the Chapel and exclaim, “YIELD!”
I am currently reading a book by Dr. Charles Solomon for a class I’m taking. He makes the distinction between total commitment and total surrender.[i]
Total commitment is self-effort – a promise to do something, it sounds like more of me is required to keep my commitment. Total surrender, on the other hand, is giving up doing things myself – and likewise requires less and less of me, in fact, it requires none of me!
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Regeneration happens in an instant. In one moment the Holy Spirit gives us life and we become spiritually alive when only a moment earlier we were spiritually dead. Surrender however, requires not just a decision to totally yield to God but it is innumerable decisions throughout the day to stay surrendered, because the temptation is to unsurrender at every opportunity.
Solomon writes, “It means surrender with no reservations – not friends, family, profession, future, possessions. Anything we are or have or might be is included in such a complete surrender. If we are dead serious, we are going to be seriously dead! Our surrender is basically our permission for our Father to take us to the cross.”[iv]
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
I’m not sure why Dr. Luke added the word daily in his gospel – it doesn’t appear in Matthew’s or Mark’s, but he did and it is an important addition. As I said earlier, total surrender isn’t a onetime decision, but a constant string of decisions.
It’s easy to die to self and by faith believe Christ lives through me for the big stuff that I know I can’t handle on my own. The struggle is the daily living that I can do on my own, in my own strength. We are not called to yield only when it suits us, yielding, not yielding, yielding, not yielding. Total surrender warrants that we deny ourselves over and over and yield to the fullness of Christ in us moment by moment, by faith believing that Jesus lives in and through us.
I need to remind myself of this every morning and throughout the day. Is it easy? No. Why? Because I don’t want to deny myself. I don’t want to die. But I know that only in dying will I yield to Jesus living His life through me and only then will I be more alive than ever.
Written By Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and provides ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at email@example.com
Think About This: “There’s not a day without sin rearing its ugly head and not a day in which God’s abundant mercies are not new.” ―