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  • Writer's pictureDawn Ward

How to Surrender Our Lives to God

Updated: Jun 7

Woman praise outside
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 NIV

What does it mean to surrender our lives to the Lord? I often think about what the act of surrendering looks like. While I say I've surrendered my life, my will, and my heart to the Lord, do I really live a life of surrender?


Surrender means “to give up control of something to someone else.”


In war, surrendering on the battlefield occurs when one side relinquishes their power and control over to the hands of their enemy. No one wants to do that. In every war movie I've ever watched, both sides would rather fight to the death than raise their hands in surrender.


But what about surrendering our will to God and His plans for our lives? Why do we resist throwing up our hands and saying, "Lord, take my life and do with it as You please. I surrender"?


We resist surrendering because it doesn't feel natural to us. In fact, it feels quite the opposite. It feels like giving up, not letting go. All our lives we've been told to stand up for our rights and fight for what we believe in. Now, as believers in Jesus, He is calling us to surrender our lives in worship to Him.


surrender flag

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Galatians 2:20 NIV


Are You Willing to Live a Surrendered Life?

While I willingly express my desire to surrender my will to the Lord's, I often catch myself trying to stay one step ahead of the Him. I get caught up in planning and solving and fixing whatever problem is at the forefront of my mind. Whether it is a hurting loved one, tension in a relationship, or stress on the job, I'm always trying to come up with a solution to the problem.


Even in my quiet time, I often jump ahead of praise and worship, where the yielding of my heart really begins, to pray "my" solution to the problem. It's as though I have it all figured out and just need to catch God up on where I stand. But that's not how the Lord works in the lives of his children. Instead of coming with a list of answers, He wants us to bring our burdens and cares to Him.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 NIV

For most of us, surrendering our lives fully to the Lord can feel a lot like free-falling after jumping out of a plane without a parachute. While we are powerless to control our lives, we still want to feel as though we have some say in the matter.


Because my adult child has struggled with addiction and mental health issues, I fought with all my might to save him. I spent countless hours researching solutions to his problem. While I said I trusted the Lord with his life, I wasn't ready to "let go and let God." After all, this is my child we're talking about here. But that's what the Lord was requiring of me—to let go and trust Him with my son's life.


Have you ever experienced that same sense of powerlessness when God asked you to let go of someone or something you were holding onto? Maybe you believed you were helping the situation, but instead, the Lord told you to let go. No matter how willing we are to surrender, it is never easy to take our hands off the situation completely.


It took some painful lessons for me to learn there is power in surrender, that when I yield and let go, Christ's transformation begins in me.


Surrender takes us back to the nuts and bolts of our relationship with God. At the very beginning of our walk with the Lord, we decided we could not do it on our own. We prayed and asked forgiveness for our rebellion and asked Him to take over our lives. And He did.


For me, I did a pretty good job of surrendering until my son became addicted to drugs. Then, I started trying to fix, rescue, and save him. In doing so, I lost my peace and was close to losing my sanity. That's what it feels like when we try to control our lives and the people in them. We lose our peace because our eyes are on our problems instead of on Jesus.

women crossed arms

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." Isaiah 26:3 NIV



The Lord has a plan to help us surrender to Him without feeling like we are doing so through gritted teeth. He has equipped us with the gift of faith. Our faith grows as we get to know His character. We get to know His character by spending time in His word and in His presence. As we do so, we will come to realize how much He loves us. He loves us so much that He laid down His life for us. We can surrender our lives to Him as we learn to trust in His great love for us.


Today, God is calling us back to that place of abandonment, to complete surrender, to total trust. What does it look like for you to live a surrendered life?

What are you holding onto with clenched teeth and locked fists? The healing comes in the letting go.

woman reading bible


"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." 1 John 3:16a NIV




What Surrendering and Letting Go Looks Like

Surrendering our lives to the Lord is easier than it sounds. Remember your first summer at the swimming pool? As your toes gripped tightly to the pool's edge, you braced yourself to jump in feet first. While your mom or dad stood in the pool, cheering you on and calling out to you to "Just jump," you may have sensed a bit of apprehension as you prepared for the big plunge (I know I did).


After a little extra coaxing, you let go and flew into the open arms of your waiting parent, as the refreshing water splashed in your face. After that, they couldn't keep you from jumping in again and again!


That's what it's like with surrendering to God. We often make it harder on ourselves than it needs to be. We consider all the things that might go wrong if we let go and let Jesus take the wheel. Even when we try to cast all our cares His direction, we wrestle with what it looks like living in absolute surrender. Here are some practical steps to help you surrender your life to the Lord.


5 Steps to Practically Surrendering Your Life to God

  1. Decide. Decide to surrender your life to the Lord. Everything we do starts with a decision. This requires faith on our part. By making the choice to surrender, rather than excuses why not to, we're already halfway there. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV

  2. Pray. Pray and ask the Lord to show you what areas of your life you need to surrender to Him. Are you holding on tightly to the plans for your future? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get there? Maybe your finances are something you treasure and cling to tightly. Perhaps there is a toxic relationship the Lord wants you to let go of and surrender to Him. Ask the Lord to show you why you are not trusting him in that area of your life. "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12 ESV

  3. Choose. Choose to surrender your will to the Lord. If He shows you an area of your life that is out of control and needs surrendered to His control, choose to listen to Him. This starts with renewing your mind, so that you think and believe like Jesus. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2 ESV

  4. Obey. Obedience is the next step. Remember the saying, "Just do it"? Well, now's the time to jump in feet first and just do it. Examples might be: Changing hours at work to be home with your family more, reducing your sugar or junk-food consumption, breaking off an abusive relationship, sacrificing Sunday football games to take the family to church, or ceasing the need to control other family members who are making self-destructive life choices. "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV

  5. Trust. Trust the Lord with the outcome. He is in control. You can trust Him with every area of your life. As you grow in trust, you will find surrendering every area of your life will become easier. "You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3 ESV

open hands
"I have learned to hold all things loosely, so God will not have to pry them out of my hands." Corrie Ten Boom

5 Verses to Help Surrender Our Lives to God

  • Surrender Our Plans: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

  • Surrender Our Power: "'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." Zechariah 4:6b NIV

  • Surrender Our Purpose: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 NIV

  • Surrender Our Personal Agenda: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

  • Surrender Our Pride: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may life you up in due time." 1 Peter 5:6 NIV


Dear Lord.
We confess we have held our grips too tightly. We are afraid to let go of our loved ones for fear of what might happen to them. We are terrified to throw up the white flag even to You, the one who has only our best and their best in mind. Forgive us for our need to keep some false sense of control. We love you and trust you. We really do. Help us live out that trust in sweet surrender.
In Jesus' name.
Amen.
 
Book cover

Coming Fall 2024, Dawn's new book,

From Guilt to Grace: Hope and Healing for Christian Moms of Addicted Children.

For further information, go to dawnrward.com or thefaithtoflourish.com.





Image 1 by Gajus on Canva

Image 2 by Berkay by Getty Images on Canva

All other images by Wix


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