I Surrender All?
Dr. John Oswalt
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” – Philippians 3:8 NLT
Judson Van DeVenter’s gospel song “I Surrender All” is often sung as an invitation hymn at the end of evangelistic services. But what does that mean? Sometimes people say to me, “What is my all? I’m not sure what God is asking for, so I don’t know whether I can say that or not.”
Years ago, I heard an illustration from the missionary-evangelist J. T. Seamands that was a great help to me at the time and has been since. He said, “God is coming to you with a sheet of paper. At the top, it says, ‘I give to God everything listed below.’ At the bottom is a place for you to sign. Probably there will be one thing filled in on the page, but the rest is blank. During the rest of your life God will return to you from time to time with something else filled in. If you feel a hesitation, all you need to do is to look at the signature at the bottom.” You don’t need to know everything at the moment of your surrender. But that surrender shapes every decision thereafter, and God will help you at each new step.
But why do we have to take such a step? It is in the nature of the love relationship. Love requires an exclusive belonging. The connection between full surrender to God and the marriage vows is not accidental. God will never be satisfied with a part of your affection, just as I am not satisfied with a part of Karen’s affection, nor she with mine. Belonging to each other completely, we can trust each other, and love is rooted in trust. Love cannot bloom in an air where the commitment is partial and variable. God wants all of us because he loves us and wants his love to come to full bloom in our lives.
Did Karen and I know what full surrender of our lives to each other might require in the coming years? No, we did not, but we knew enough to know that we wanted to belong completely to each other so that our love would have a chance to send down roots deep enough to withstand whatever might come. And it has.
That’s what God wants – all of you. Have you signed the sheet of paper? If you have, all God’s resources of love are yours. If not, why not?