“We shall never surrender!” So said Winston Churchill in his famous We Will Fight on the Beaches speech. The implication is that if you don’t surrender, you have only one choice, and that is to keep on fighting. But I have a problem with that. Is surrender the only alternative to fighting? What about love? Both surrender and love stand against fighting. But when we surrender, it’s because we have no choice. Love is always a choice.
Many people will say that the key to following God's will for your life is surrendering your own will to God's. As someone who has spent most of my adult life battling with God, I can tell you that approach may work for some people, but it doesn’t cut it for me.
Surrender is the language of war. When you surrender, you resign yourself to the fact that you've been beaten, or at least you aren't going to win, so you throw in the towel. In surrender, you come to the other defeated. And it’s pretty hard not to resent someone you have surrendered yourself to. You may continue to want the same things for yourself that you always wanted, but now you're forced to deny them and the resentment grows deeper.
Doesn’t God want to be in a loving relationship with us? How can you love someone to whom you have surrendered yourself like that? When I strive to follow God's will for my life, the real point for me has become, do I love God? If I love God, then I want what God wants. It's not a matter of doing battle with God and surrendering my will to God's will. It's about making God's will my will, too.
Have you ever watched two people who professed to love one another for the rest of their lives grow to become adversaries? Every issue between them becomes a battle of the wills and there is an ongoing struggle to see who will ultimately win the war. But when you love someone, you want what they want, don't you? If the one you love wants to watch a football game on Sunday afternoon, you don't dig in your heels and refuse to allow it. You want them to have what they want. You want them to be happy and their happiness makes you happy, too. Your will becomes the same.
That’s how my relationship with God works as well. God isn't the enemy. God doesn't want to do battle with me. God doesn't force me into submitting to him and seeing things his way. God loves me. And God wants me to love him so much that I want what he wants for me.
There is a huge difference between surrendering myself to God and giving myself to him in love. One approach feels like a requirement and I come to resent it. But when I respond in love, I’m offering myself as an expression of thankfulness for a gift beyond compare. And there isn’t a speck of resentment in me. Only joy.