But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)
Each person is as surrendered to God as he or she chooses to be. Relinquishing, the initial step of surrender, is the letting go of personal desires. However, complete surrender is fully accepting whatever God has planned—no matter the pain or cost.
On several occasions, Jesus questioned His disciples’ faith and challenged their fear (Mark 4:40). This occurred during times of high stress, uncertainty, and adversity—when circumstances were outside their control. And in those moments, He encouraged them to exercise more faith to conquer their fear.
Exercised faith leads to increased faith. Stronger faith leads to deliberate surrender. Even when we struggle with exercising or increasing our faith, there is comfort in knowing even the disciples asked, “Lord, ‘Increase our faith’” (Luke 17:5).
In the pursuit of surrender, we find broader concepts of Christianity. Within them we discover foundational tenets dealing with intimacy with God and increased faith in His sovereign orchestration. When we understand them and accept their relevance, two things happen. First, we lessen the fear of spiritual yielding. Secondly, we launch a deeper comprehension and stronger commitment to it.
Four words involved with spiritual surrender are uncertainty, trust, impatience, and waiting. The first pair of words identify the struggle for control; the second reveals the essence of yielding to God’s perfect will.
Uncertainty includes not knowing, having doubt, hesitance, vagueness, and indecision, or of being unpredictable or indefinite. It usually represents a conflict between how we think things should be as opposed to how they are.
At its core, uncertainty implies a lack of strategy, energy, vision, and communication. It is that gray fog of life where no present option seems best and no optimal alternative presents itself.
In the Christian life, uncertainty occurs when God’s precise pathway becomes unclear and divine direction is muted. Human logic struggles to arrive at the known, the strategic, the outcome, the destination. Yet sometimes, God’s perfect will remains hidden while circumstances and situations bend their collective wills to His work behind the scenes.
Minds preoccupied by uncertainty often lead to doing something, anything to remove the nagging ambivalence. We pray for God’s direction, then distract our discomfort with busyness. We become involved in various pursuits in the effort to jump start something, anything to remove the seeming idleness and powerlessness.
This, however, brings us to the antidote for uncertainty: trust.
Trust crushes uncertainty. Trusting means to have faith, confidence, dependence, and hope. Implicit trust is having all these qualities even in the face of uncertainty. One of the Greek words for faith means reliance, not mere credence. It differentiates between head knowledge and heart knowledge.
At its highest level, trust is belief in the absence of hard fact or evidence. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
As children on road trips with our parents, we trusted them for meals, safety, and arrival at our destination. We didn’t agonize over whether or not our parents would forget about meals, worry if the wheels would fall off, or even fret about getting lost. We slept and fussed. Snacked and fussed. Played “I spy” and fussed some more. All while trusting our parents the entire journey. No matter what happened.
Trusting God’s sovereign purpose involves relying on His graciousness and timing even when we may not have confirmation or certainty. Trust can even be described as uncertainty at rest or ambiguity at peace. Even when questions are unanswered, we trust His solutions. When doors remain closed, we trust His opportunities. Though direction appears obscured, we trust His journey.
We demonstrate faith and trust in God by remaining steadfast even when we have no reason to—yet choose to do so. Such a choice usually resides in intimate knowledge and past experience—both of which require time and vulnerability.
Building trust entails a dedicated priority of quality time with God and His Word. It also involves willfully surrendering anything that conflicts with His scrutiny or competes with His supremacy.
Human impatience always conflicts with sovereign orchestration.
It is that restless condition of annoyance or intolerance with delays and hindrances. We want what we want when we want it. We overlook the fact that if God immediately granted everything we asked, we would be puny, self-centered ingrates of little faith with no respect for His timing and graciousness.
Impatience negatively affects intimacy with God as it challenges His sovereign timing. We are disappointed when He seemingly ignores our requests—or denies them. Then we get angry, sometimes even desperately trying to fulfill our desires and requests in our own strength—and failing miserably. Quite often, we question God’s love, wrongly implying He proves His love by giving us what we want instead of admitting love is part of His essence.
So God tests our faith by making us wait (James 1:3). He builds character through delays. “For ye have need of patience” (Hebrews 10:36, KJV). Patience develops spiritual maturity and complete reliance on God. “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4). Subsequently, we pursue patience with as much passion as we pursue righteousness, godliness, and love (1 Timothy 6:11).
And so, a conflict exists between our impatience and God’s test of our faith. As Sovereign God, He sovereignly orchestrates all things according to His purpose. So He cures for our disdain for waiting by making us wait—all while teaching us to trust Him to perform His perfect work in and through us.
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14). From a humanistic standpoint, waiting implies delays, pauses, or postponements. Yet, from God’s perspective, waiting is the duration until “the fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4). This phrase identifies the specific time, place, and setting God foreordained something to happen. Nothing happens before or after His appointed time.
Only God knows when all events align to fulfill His sovereign purpose. He alone knows when all involved individuals and circumstances are positioned appropriately. Sure, we can ask Him to do things differently or speed things along. However, just as a parent knows how long it takes to drive to a specific destination, so God foreknows all the moving parts and delivers in His time.
Once we grasp this concept, our waiting becomes less impatient enduring and more restful anticipating. We eagerly await His direction and coordination, all while surrendering to His will and trusting His timing.
Living in Complete Surrender
Spiritual surrender isn’t a mystical event that miraculously happens against our control or choice. On the contrary, it involves the intentional and willful submission of individual freewill to God’s perfect will—regardless of the outcome.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Hebrew word translated as acknowledge means more than simply recognizing. It also means knowing and being known intimately, becoming familiar or acquainted with, discovering, and discerning.
When we intimately know God and are known intimately by Him, as we discover more and more each day His faithful and timely sovereign orchestration, we learn to trust Him more. We rely on His timing. As our faith is strengthened, we grow in spiritual maturity. We learn to rest in Him and await the fulfillment of His purpose in our lives. Ultimately, we surrender to His perfect will knowing it is best.
Father God, thank You for Your loving patience and sustaining grace along life’s journey. Help me to cast aside all worry and uncertainty and trust You implicitly. Help me to discard all restlessness and impatience and wait on Your timing. May I rest in You and trust Your heart. May I discern Your direction and develop the spiritual maturity You desire. In all my ways, I acknowledge You and surrender to Your sovereign orchestration. Help me, Abba Father, for I ask this in Your holy name. Amen.