John Mark Comer speaks about stages of faith, and the final stage he calls the faith of surrender. It’s a faith where you know God, you know His thoughts and His characteristics, and you trust Him. This is a faith that has let go of control, where trust in Jesus is fully grown, producing mature fruit. A faith of surrender; no matter what happens, you know that the God you trust is in control.

This stage of faith is often seen in older Christian believers. There’s a steadiness, a reliance, an unwavering, resolute, joyful, calm, peaceful and reverent way they carry themselves. Why is this? They have learned the secret of surrender.

How do we live like this?

Firstly, we have to trust God. You can’t trust someone you don’t know, and you would never surrender yourself to someone you don’t know, either. The more we understand who God is, the more we see His loving kindness, faithfulness, patience, wisdom, understanding, gentleness, what He’s sacrificed for us, His delight in us and desire for good, the easier it will be to trust Him. I’ve been married for three years now, and I’m amazed at how much more I know and trust my wife now than the day we got married. I thought for sure that I knew her then and trusted her, and I did, but I didn’t realize the depth trust can grow into, and I’m sure it will grow even more as the years go on. We will grow to trust Him through time in our relationship with God. I mean, how could we not? He is literally the most trustworthy person to have ever existed. It does take time though, this is why you usually see this faith of surrender more prevalent in older believers, it takes time to get to know someone. 

The second step, which goes hand-in-hand with the first, and I recoil a little as I write this, is to relinquish our desire for control. “As long as you need your life to go a certain way for you to be happy and at peace, you will never be happy and at peace.” – John Mark Comer The belief that we know best is at the core of the desire for control. We believe that if we were in total control, we would be happier, our lives would be better, and we would have fewer problems. With some brief reflection I’m sure you’ll agree that if we were in total control of our own lives, this would not be true. Our lives would be a bit of a mess. This leads to the question, why do we struggle to give control away? Before answering the question, a clarification needs to be made that giving up control is a constant thing. “Relying on God has to start over every day as if nothing has yet been done.” – C.S. Lewis. Each day we need to choose to rely on God. This doesn’t mean it will not get easier, it simply means it must be done daily. I believe the answer to why we don’t want to give up control lies in a lack of trust in the only One in control. We are handing control to the one who can actually make our lives better, the one who knows what we need, the only one who can actually give us life to the fullest. 

When thinking of surrender I’m reminded of Paul’s words while he was in prison,

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

Philippians 1:20-26.

This is a man who is surrendered to Jesus. He has given his desires for God’s. He trusts God with his life, living or dead. His hope is anchored in Jesus, in eternity. He knows God.

Matthew Henry puts it this way,

Paul’s inclination was for death. See the power of faith and of divine grace; it can reconcile the mind to death, and make us willing to die, though death is the destruction of our present nature and the greatest natural evil. We have naturally an aversion to death, but he had an inclination to it (Phil. 1:23); Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, observe, it is being with Christ which makes a departure desirable to a good man. It is not simply dying, or putting off the body, it is not of itself and for its own sake a desirable thing; but it may be necessarily connected with something else which may make it truly so. If I cannot be with Christ without departing, I shall reckon it desirable on that account to depart.

Surrender doesn’t mean an easy life, surrender means contentment in life, knowing what God has promised us. It means being with Jesus. What’s the fruit of living a surrendered life? An obedient life, worry-free, confident in God, joyful, fulfilling, purposeful, and full.

What would a surrendered you look like?

By Joshua Marais