Day One

“Surrender means opening our hands, letting go of control over our finances, health, careers, and relationships, and welcoming one thing in return – Jesus.”

Words: Jake Wauchope Read: 5 - 10 mins Published: 5 July 2024

Today, as we begin our devotions leading into the YA retreat, we focus on the profound theme of surrender. Surrender is a recurring theme throughout scripture, where God calls His servants to lay down their dreams and agendas to follow His divine plan. Whether it’s Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22) or Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39), the Bible is filled with stories of surrender.


Before we proceed, it’s important to recenter on what surrender truly is. It’s not about a transactional expectation where giving up something results in worldly gain. Surrender isn’t prosperity doctrine where “If I give up X then I’ll received X times 10 in return”. Instead, surrender means opening our hands, letting go of control over our finances, health, careers, and relationships, and welcoming one thing in return – Jesus.


At the start of this year, Charlotte and I were praying and felt God strongly lay the word surrender on us as our ‘word for the year’. That was great as far as I was concerned. We had grand plans about a new home, career changes and a baby on the way, I saw ‘surrender’ as Gods gift for us, telling us not to worry about our plans and instead rely on him. This type of surrender felt peaceful and easy… “I don’t have to worry about it, because God’s got it”.  And that’s all true, surrendering our plans to God can be the most freeing feeling in the world, but for us surrendering to God turned into a gut-wrenching struggle of faith when our little boy Aflie was born. Alfie was born with a birth defect which led to a cyst blocking his airways, meaning he couldn’t breath properly. It was a case they said only came past once a decade and almost never in a baby so small. Surgery was necessary, but no one wanted to do it on a baby so small. In our prep, the doctors made it clear that there was a very real chance that Alfie may not make it through the surgery, and if he did, they weren’t confident that the surgery itself would be successful. It was harrowing.


With all this going on we were as blessed as we could be with a church interceding on our behalf and our family surrounding us with love and support. We prayed for and hoped for a miracle and had faith that God held our family in his hands, but we knew that God might be calling Alfie to come back to him. On the day of his surgery, I remember Charlie and I sobbing in the waiting room as we prayed over Alfie, calling back to mind our word for the year – surrender – we praised God for our son, but prayed a prayer giving Alfie back to God having faith that no matter the outcome, God was good. Putting Alfie down on that surgery table and being led away by a nurse was the most heart breaking moment in my life, never before had surrendering to God felt realer, or harder.


Alfies story is one where we can praise God for working a miracle. Despite the doctors predictions, the surgery was completely successful and our little fighter recovered quicker than anyone predicted. We praise God for giving our boy back to us.


It wasn’t until a few weeks post his operation when someone asked me “how was your faith during that time” that I took a minute to really take stock. How had my faith been? Did I trust God as I lay Alfie down on the table? Ultimately, my faith remained strong throughout the whole ordeal, but not on a hope of a miracle or that Alfie would fine – I’ve been through enough trauma to know that in this fallen world utterly heartbreaking things still happen even to those who pray – instead my faith was firmly rooted in knowing that God loved me, he loved Alfie, he loved our family, and no matter the outcome he would guide us through it.


I think this posture is what true surrender really means, it’s a giving over to God and trusting him with the outcome no matter what that ends up being. We have to trust God completely with our stories, praying for miracles and taking our own steps, but ultimately knowing he has set the path for us and its our job to walk in his steps, not his job to change to path to our desires (even though we know this sometimes happens).


For each of us, surrender will look a little bit different. For some it will be surrendering the small things throughout the day to remain present and connected with God, for others it will be learning to surrender the big things like our hopes and dreams for the future.


Meditate on this verse today, and pray to God asking him to reveal to you the things in your life you need to surrender to him.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV


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