What is the meaning of “absolute surrender”? What does it look like?
Perhaps the most poignant event in the Old Testament is when God asked Abraham to take his son Isaac up on a mountain and sacrifice him. For one thing, this is contrary to the very commands of God and raises many questions about what He might ask me to do and how would I know it was Him doing the asking? However, I must leave those questions and look at this story.
It turned out to be the ultimate test of absolute surrender, not only for the father, but also the son who willingly laid on the pile of wood as his father asked him. Isaac asked about the lamb for the sacrifice and dad said God would provide. Then, just as Abraham was about to do the deed . . .
The angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:11–14)
So much could be said about God’s provision too, but I’m thinking prior to that about the absolute surrender. In this case, God asked and Abraham yielded. His surrender was total, absolute.
In some situations, the decision to surrender is made or called for when disaster strikes. A child is born blind. A brother is in a car accident and near death. A spouse is deliberating whether to stay or go. An employer is downsizing and your job is on the line. These outside circumstances are out of your control, but as Christians see it, they are in the control of Almighty God.
A couple weeks ago, one such event happened in my life. Through it, I knew that all I could do was surrender to the will of God. Even though I know God loves me, that He works all things together for my good, and He answers prayer, this was a most difficult surrender. Numb, I kept saying, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
In David’s sixty-second psalm, he repeats the following two times . . .
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Psalm 62:1–2)
These, I think, are another evidence of total surrender; silence and a calm spirit, with hope in God, not in a good outcome, a better plan, the skill of a doctor, or even a good conclusion. He is a strong tower, a hiding place. Even if the world falls apart, absolute surrender trusts God, no matter what.
I’m not there yet, or at least not all the time. A young missionary said, “The only problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.” She is right, but progress is possible. Otherwise God would not ask His people to surrender all and simply trust Him with all our hearts. I’m thankful for the example of Abraham, and thankful that God is in charge of these matters. He not only controls the events of life, but is able to provide whatever I need whenever I need it, even silence and a calm faith that is yielded to Him.