The odds are long. The chances of survival slim. The outlook is bleak. "Surrender may be our only option," says the ship's science officer.
"No. Never give up; never surrender!" responds the ships commander.
It's almost universally recognized that surrender is a bad word. Quotes from Vince Lombardi, "Winners never quit, and quitters never win," Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn," Norman Vincent Peal, "It's always to soon to quit," and Winston Churchill, "Never, never, never give up!" Hang in our homes and workplaces. For many, it seems, death is to be preferred over surrender.
And yet ... What if surrender is exactly what you need to do to begin living the life you were created for?
Like many Christians, I suppose, I have a few sin patterns that I struggle with regularly. No matter how hard I try, I am inconsistent in living victoriously. For decades I have gone to bed defeated and determined to do better the next day. Until recently.
Jesus says, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." ~Luke 9:23 (NLT) It seems that taking up your cross is central to following Jesus.
In the Roman world, a condemned prisoner was made to carry his own cross beam to the place of his execution. It was a way of symbolizing the total control of the empire over the condemned, and the total surrender of the condemned to his fate. Though today we use the idea of bearing a cross to mean everything from being patient in unpleasant circumstances to suffering with a hard-to-please relative, Jesus had a specific meaning in mind: total surrender. In other words, if we want to follow Jesus we must be totally surrendered to him as our King.
While most of us give lip service to this idea, when push comes to shove it can be very difficult to give up -- to surrender. Are we really willing to surrender the job we enjoy, the neighborhood with the good schools, the family we love? Can we truly say with the hymn writer, "I surrender all"? In an age when "Never give up; never surrender" is our motto, total surrender to Jesus seems unlikely at best. Nope, not me. I don't even want to surrender that last piece of pizza.
But, what if surrender is actually the key to joyful, victorious living? What if (as often happens) the world has it upside down and surrender, to Jesus, is the ultimate sign of strength?
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