This week I faced the reality that a year-long process, one I thought was taking our family in a particular direction, in fact appears to have come to an end. Nevertheless, in the midst of the sense of surprise and wondering, I experience a deeper current within me that continues to invite me to surrender to what God might be doing. That is, to the goodness of God’s activities whether I understand them or not.
If you’re anything like me, this word ‘surrender’ conjures up all sorts of thoughts and feelings. My mind goes to a particular move in one of the workouts I’ve been doing, known precisely as a ‘surrender.’ As the name might suggest, it’s pretty brutal! It requires that you move from a kneeling position to standing and back again, all while holding a weight at your chest.
Doing this move got me thinking. I have always thought of surrender as ‘giving up’ or ‘giving in.’ And giving up has a sense of going from activity to non-activity. At first, I’m busy doing my own thing - moving forward, making things happen, or trying to do so - and then I stop, I give up or give in. Just as in a conflict, when one side surrenders to the other, they lay down their arms, cease their activity, and allow the winning side to do things their way.
I have an image in my mind of my two brothers when we were little, racing around the house as they play some version of cops and robbers. One catches the others and flings him to the ground, shouting ‘Surrender! Say you give up!’ This was the signal that he had won and the racing around would now finally cease. Mostly because the one on the ground had had the wind completely knocked out of him.
And yet that move in my workout is far from inactive. Not at all! It is anything but passive to come to standing from a kneeling position, holding a weight at my chest. It takes effort, determination and persistence. In fact, when I think about it, all of my experiences of internal surrender have felt more like a determined movement in a particular direction than a giving up.