Orthodox America

  Surrender, Not Resignation

We know that God has promised for those who love Him such good things as pass man’s understanding, for eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor can the mind conceive all that God has in readiness for those who love Him.

We also know that nothing is done or happens, either in the material or spiritual world, which God has not foreseen from all eternity, and which He has not willed, or at least permitted.  And God can will or permit nothing but in view of the end He proposed to Himself in creating the world, that is, in view of His glory and the glory of the God-man, Jesus Christ, His only Son, our only Saviour and Redeemer.

But as long as man lives on earth, God desires to be glorified through the happiness of this privileged creature; thus, in God’s designs the interest of man’s sanctification and happiness is inseparable from the interest of the divine glory.

So our surrender and abandonment to God cannot be too extreme, too absolute.  For how holy, just, welcome and lovable is the will of God!  Christ said:  My food is to do the will of Him Who sent me (John 4:34).  He not only preached, but He realized that Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).

It is only opposition and resistance to God, the Maker and Giver of life, which spells death.  Wrath is in His anger, but in His will is life (Ps. 30:5).  So for health and life we seek His will.  We pray:  “Thy will be done.  Give us this day our daily bread”, which besides meaning the Sacrament (John 6:33, 53) also means God’s will (John 4:34, 6:27).  The Father’s will was food and drink to Jesus.  He craved to do the will of God as the natural man craves perishable food.  All His pleasure and happiness was in pleasing His heavenly Father.  He know that God Who is All-Good can only will what is good for us, for His will is our health, happiness and perfection.

One modern writer would warn us against practicing “an exaggerated surrender to the will of God.”  I enthusiastically challenge that statement.  We are made for God.  We are made by God.  We are saved and redeemed by God.  We belong to God.  We cannot surrender ourselves too completely to Love.  We need to open every part of our being for His Spirit to fill.  It is the partial opening which gives such advantages to the devil.  There are no draughts in the open air.  We are not given the Comforter to make us comfortable, but to enable us to comfort others.  We need to bathe in God, to swim in the ocean of His love.  Unless a man surrenders himself entirely to the water, he is not swimming.  As long as he is held up by one string, one cord, or as long as he has one hand on the earth, he is not swimming.  “Let go and let God.” 

Whosever does not leave and renounce all that he has, cannot be My disciple.  (Luke 14:33)           

            Our wills are ours to make them His.  Our wills are not ours to resign to passivity…Resignation is not a Christian virtue.  If you see the will of God as St. Paul sees it - good, delightful and perfect - you do not talk of being resigned to it.  Surrender is as far from resignation as waiting on God is from waiting for God.  A servant waiting for his master does nothing, but a servant waiting on his master is all reverent attention and controlled activity, going here and there at his word, dancing attendance on him.  The end of surrender is cooperation and union with God.  But resignation is idleness and separation from Him.  God ever works, and He expects works from us.  We climb the steps of heaven by the steps of surrender.  This is the true union of our will with the will of God…

            When a castle surrendered, it lowered its drawbridge and opened its gates to admit the invading force.  So spiritually we must open our whole being, the castle of the soul, to the invading Spirit of Christ.  To accept our present situation and each event as it occurs is to accept all that God wills for us.  This is an open door to the “peace past understanding.”  But there are different ways of acceptance.  We may simply lump our lot or “put up with it”, as if yielding to a superior force in a spirit of submission or resignation.  That is the virtue of Islam.  But the Christian way of accepting God’s will is a joyful surrender and abandonment of oneself into the arms of the Beloved (Eph. 1:6).  This surrender is the soul’s Passover.  All life then becomes a Paschal festival.

            But it requires vigorous and active faith to see God’s hand in everything.  “I am the real vine and My Father is the Gardener,” says Christ.  “Any branch in Me that stops bearing fruit, He cuts away.  And He prunes and cleans or purifies every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and better fruit…Live in Me…Apart from Me ye can do nothing” (John 15).  What has more charm than an orchard in bloom?  Yet, the blossoms must vanish for fruit to appear.  There are flowers in our life that may seem precious.  Yet in God’s sight they are just flowers which He has to remove if we are to yield Him fruit.  He alone knows the true desires of our hearts, and He alone can satisfy them.  We must trust Him absolutely if we wish to realize our heart’s desire.  Every single thing that happens is part of God’s plan for our growth and development and sanctification…

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock;
If anyone hears and listens to My voice and
opens the door, I will come in to him.   (Rev. 3:20)

             Christ is waiting to do God’s will in and with us.  He is our life, salvation and glory…Surrender is a glorious exchange.  We give ourselves to God and He gives us to Christ.

            The more we die to self and lose ourselves in His love, the more wonderfully we find our true life in Christ.

(From Orthodox Life, Jan.-Feb., 1963)