Years ago I was asked to help lead a group of high school students for a week at a summer camp in Colorado. Our activity one afternoon was to go rappelling from up high on a cliff to the scenic canyon floor below. It was beautiful there, and I was looking forward to my first try at this. I trusted the instructor and I trusted the equipment he secured me with, or at least I think I did. But when it came to actually starting down the cliff, I was a complete failure! I could not do it at all.
Proper rappelling happens at a ninety degree angle to the cliff. You’ve probably seen pictures of this. People who rappel correctly walk, or even bounce, down perpendicular to the cliff. My problem was that I couldn’t shift my weight from my feet where I stood vertically and lay back horizontally into the ropes. There is a short moment of free fall into the strength of the ropes behind you that I just couldn’t do. I couldn’t let go. And in the end, I lost my grip and spun around, dangling with my back against the cliff, crying in defeat, until the instructor was gracious enough to pull me back up to safety at the top.
We have said that hope is the anchor we hold onto in the storms of life. We have to come to the point of trusting the strength of the rope more than our own strength. We have to surrender and let go and trust what we hope for. That’s what I couldn’t do in rappelling- I couldn’t surrender to the strength of the rope. I couldn’t let go.
We have all sat beside a swimming pool watching children jump freely to the arms of their mommies or daddies down in the pool. They have total trust that their parent will catch them, that they have the ability to catch them, and that they want to catch them and keep them safe. Their faith gives a much better picture of surrender than my rappelling experience.
Jesus calls us to have the faith of a child. He calls us to have the free trust to surrender to Him, knowing He will keep us, He has the ability to keep us, and He wants to hold us and keep us safe. We let go and place our hope in Him, and we are free to surrender to His strength.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17
In Christ we have a transfer of trust from the old to the new. We let go and surrender the old life to trust in the new life He has for us. As in rappelling, there is a moment of “free fall” from our old self in its sinful ways to take hold of the new life filled with His Spirit. That is our point of surrender.
For most of us, the challenge of surrender is the challenge of giving up control. We love to have control of our own lives, and often the lives of others as well. To surrender to the Lord is to surrender control to Him, and our pride often keeps that from happening.
The dictionary definition of surrender has two parts: first, to give up fighting or resisting because you know you cannot or will not win, and second, to give control to someone else. I think we do a lot of fighting, almost to the point of exhaustion, as we wrestle against giving God control of our lives. We may hang on for dear life, unable to see or accept that we cannot win. He may use a very difficult situation to make clear to us that we are not in control, and bring us to that point of surrender. At the end of our own strength and ability, we finally give control to Him.
When we give up fighting, we find peace. When we quit resisting, we can rest. When we surrender to Him, we are surrounded by Him, and all can be well again.
I surrender all. I surrender all. All to thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.