Surrender. especially in American culture, is rarely seen as something positive. It means accepting that the battle has been won not on your terms, and you are willingly giving your life over to the authority of the winning side.
It means taking a humble position and embracing what is over how we would have it.
Surrender is an act of faith, keeping hope alive by choosing defeat over death. It is the first act for those coming to salvation, and a continual habit of those walking with Christ.
To surrender to Christ is a decisive blow to our flesh. “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live…” (Galatians 2:20). But that’s not the end of the verse. This surrender gives way to new hope and new life: “…but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.” Along with the old self, the power of sin is broken, “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin” (Romans 6:6). We surrender not as defeated heroes, but as refugees, escaping a life of slavery, starvation, and abuse. We surrender not for fear or threat, but in hope that the One to whom we surrender has a better life for us.
The returning prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, who gives up on his way of life and runs back to the father hoping to be a servant, is a picture of our surrender to God. His surrender is met with rewards beyond his expectations. He is received with open arms, lavish love, and a new life as a restored son. We too can bring our children to surrender not with crushing blows, but by convincing them that we will receive them with open arms and lavish love.
Parenting requires a great deal of surrender — from surrendering to the discomforts and changes of pregnancy, to giving up our schedules, to giving our children independence to be unique. To surrender also means giving up our parenting fears, which assume the worst and make us over-protective. It stifles growth and produces fear and frustration in a child. We are to protect them, not to serve our own anxieties, but to serve a God who will hold us accountable for the care we give.
We don’t own our children, we are their stewards for God. In the parable of the talents, Jesus warns us about letting fear drive our stewardship. “He also who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter. I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the earth. Behold, you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow, and gather where I didn’t scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest’” (Matthew 25:24-27). Proper care requires taking reasonable risks. If we are overprotective, our children won’t grow and mature as God intends them to do.
Like most things, proper surrender is best taught by example. Jesus lived a life of continual surrender to the Father. As he said, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise” (John 5:19). And as He said to the Father when the time came to surrender his life, “not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Walking with Christ means continual surrender, trusting that the God who made your children has a plan for them and loves them more than you. It means turning in your fears and anxieties for prayer (Philippians 4:6) and giving up control.
- In what ways did fear play a part in how you were parented?
- In what areas do you see fear affecting your parenting?
- In what ways do you need to surrender more to God as a parent?
Training in the Practice of Jesus
Consider an area where you are particularly controlling and give it up to God. Share with your family that you are surrendering this area to God and discuss why.
From Parenting in Christ: Training in the Disciplines of Jesus
Lesson 1 – Surrender
What one thing would be the most difficult thing for you to give up for the rest of your life?