(From the song “I Surrender All”
Van De Venter/Weeden 1896, Public Domain)
Inspiring, isn’t it? Whenever I hear this grand, old song it nearly always carries my heart to finer heights than I had just previously occupied. The words and the melody fill me with a bright desire to indeed give all that I am to the Lord ~ surrendered and ready for His use! I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one affected this way….
As we think about giving our “all”, we rightly think about giving our best, just as that other grand, old song urges “Give Of Your Best to the Master”. When we think of giving and/or surrendering our “best” what generally comes to mind is our strength, our energy, our devotion, our heart, our mind, our wishes, our wants, our families, and living our very lives surrendered to the Lord. Warm, bright, uplifting, ennobling thoughts and intentions fill us and there’s not anything wrong with that. It’s good and right to have these thoughts, desires, and intentions! Certainly the Lord Jesus should have no less from us.
The last time I sang this song, though, the Holy Spirit brought to mind another point of focus: “I surrender all” also means the lesser parts of ourselves as well, not just our would-be bright offerings. So “All to Jesus” means surrendering our darker things ~ the parts of ourselves we’re not so pleased with, or are ashamed of, or that we even try to hide (Genesis 3:9), as if that were possible with our omniscient (all-knowing) God and Savior. “All to Jesus” means giving over our foolish mistakes, our painful mistakes, the hurts that have come to us and the hurts we have given to others. It means surrendering to the Lord and into His hands our willful stubbornness and our mouths ~ with our tongues that are so often careless, cruel, spiteful, deceitful, gossipy, or whatever else you care to name or consider. (James 3:8) It means yielding into His care and Lordship our independence, our self-reliance, our sloth/lethargy/laziness or our over-busy-ness, our shyness or our brashness, our passions for the dramatic, our addictions to worry, and the list ~ as we all know ~ can go on endlessly. “All to Jesus” also means surrendering all the things we use to make the walls of the self-made fortresses we hide behind.
As we read the the Bible, the Word of God makes it pretty plain that God wants our all and will settle for nothing else. He says of Himself He is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5, Deuteronomy 5:9) and He will brook no competition with other things for first place in our hearts and our lives ~ that He will tolerate no idols before Him in our lives. So in His faithfulness and love for us, He will not be satisfied with anything less than our all as His own, for He has adopted us through Jesus Christ and we are His children. He is our Maker, and our Father, and He knows it is for our best that He has our all.
The only things the Lord does not want from us ~ unless it is in confession and repentance ~ is our pride, our self~righteousness, our self~righteous deeds. Let us remember always that we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) and that He who began a good work in us will bring that to perfection. (Philippians1:6) The Lord is not looking for us to offer Him perfection because He knows it is not possible. (Isaiah 42:3) He wants us to come to Him ~ simply ~ with all that we are, just as we are. (Another great old song, “Just As I Am”)
The Lord receives our all with love and comfort and fellowship and cleansing so that He can continue to work in us, forming us to be all that He intended in the creation of us, and helping us learn how to let Him live His life through us. (Galations 2:20) Living each day with our would~be control surrendered into His hands and to let go of our would~be plans in favor of letting Him live His life through us is not easy in one sense, and yet it’s as easy as simply saying “yes” to Him in each point of decision through our day. Living surrendered with “All To Jesus” is not a once for all choice, but a myriad of choices throughout the day ~ to flow with the moves of the Lord in our life at that moment or to opt for our own will and way. Our way leads to death; His way is Life.
Honestly, we may initially feel like we’re “failing” more than we’re “succeeding” in living “All To Jesus”. However, the richness that comes from the times when we are yielded to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and the blessings of God that come to others through us are light, bright, enlivening, and awesome. At the end of each day, regardless of how well we feel we’ve done in giving “All to Jesus” or not, we are loved! Throughout each day and each moment of each day we are loved just as we are. The love of God is not ours because of our performance, it is because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and continues to love us. He does not change and He will faithfully bring us to completion in Him as He designed us to be ~ conformed to the incomparable image of Christ! (Romans 8:29)
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren… (Romans 8:29)
“Give Of Your Best to the Master” (Howard B. Grose, public domain)
“Just As I Am” (Charlotte Elliot, The United Methodist Hymnal Number 357 )