Waving The White Flag

There’s no such thing as partial surrender. 
This might seem obvious, especially if you are familiar at all with battle. However, it’s not quite so obvious when we bring this statement into our life of faith. 

I remember one time a friend saying, “These worship songs are so difficult for me to sing because, I don’t know if I can genuinely sing, ‘I surrender all.’ There are still things I’m holding onto. I know I haven’t given God everything.” While I admire this friend’s honest self-reflection, it makes me wonder, what’s the alternative? “I surrender most?” 

Let’s think back to the battlefield…what if you were part of an army, and you were clearly losing - your leaders were either killed or had abandoned you and your only hope at life was to give up your position as “the enemy” and to wave the white flag and surrender? 

In this moment, surrendering means saving your life. But it costs you. 
You can’t wave the white flag and hang on to your AK47. 
You can’t wave the white flag and continue to call the shots. 
You can’t wave the white flag and say, “I surrender, but I’m going to keep this knife on me, just in case.“ 
You are either an enemy or an ally. 

To embrace your only hope at life: 
You must embrace the vulnerable position of hitting your knees. 
You must humbly succumb to taking direction. 
You must lay down your arms - all of them. 
You must trust another with your future, your protection, your life. 

There is no such thing as partial surrender. 

While there is a vast difference between this metaphor an God’s approach to us (he is not coming for you like a violent, invading army, he lovingly invites us to follow Him into life) there are great similarities in how we can respond to Him. 

Somehow along the way, we have become happy enough trying to have Jesus be a part of our lives, rather than surrendering our whole lives to Him. We want him to bless us, and give us life and help, but we don’t want him to tell us what to do, and we certainly don’t want to lay down anything that we cling to that makes us feel safe. We want to wave the white flag, but hang on to the gun. We want to sing with all our hearts, “I surrender most, I surrender most, all to thee, my precious Savior, I surrender most.” 

Because it’s hard. It’s hard to hit your knees. It’s hard to throw down your arms. It’s hard to let someone else decide where you should go, and what you should do, and what your new life looks like. It costs something. 

Jesus did warn us of this and He didn’t say it would be easy: 

Here’s some of the things he said about what it means to follow him, what it looks like to abandon being an “enemy of God” and to join him as His ally, as His child, as His heir: 

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat: I am…Self help it now help at all. Self sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, your true self? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Mark 8:34-37 MSG) 

…another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62) 

Like the old saying goes - “He is either Lord of all, or no lord at all.” 
There is no such thing as partial surrender. 

A pastor I know often gives this analogy: He says, “What if I made you some brownies, they will be the most lovely, amazing home-made-from-scratch brownies, but as I was baking them, I just put one teaspoon of dog poo in them?” That would be ok right? Just little? All the rest is organic, wholesome, amazing ingredients. It’s 97% perfect. Would you eat those?” 

“Aren’t I doing great if I give God most of my life? I just want to hang onto this one relationship? This one idol, this one addiction, this one area of control. That’s good enough right?” 
There is no such thing as partial surrender.

It really is true that to follow Christ, you have to lay down everything else, even your independence, even your ability to protect and provide for yourself, but here’s the thing - we aren’t surrendering to an opposing army, we are surrendering to Perfection Incarnate, to The Good Father, to the Original Designer of everything good, everything beautiful, everything delightful and meaningful and worthy. We are exchanging lies for truth, darkness for light, hopelessness for eternal hope, death for life, all we have to do it throw down our arms - sounds like a pretty good trade to me. 

Again, Jesus says, For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) Total surrender is the gateway to real, everlasting life - He promises that.

If you let Him lead you, if you surrender and become His ally, He will march you straight into life. Goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life, when He is your Shepherd. He will exchange all of the temporary, and counterfeit sources of happiness in your life for genuine, never-ending sources of joy. It will be the hardest and best “Yes” of your life - letting go of everything, and laying hold of all things, but this is the only way to live.

What if we laid down our arms?
What if we let Him lead our whole lives?
What if we surrendered it all?
What if we found real freedom on our knees?
What if we waved the white flag?
What if we surrendered it all?