During the past few weeks I have been pondering the difference between submission and surrender. These two words have recently come up repeatedly in my meditations and reflections, and I have gradually noticed that I am less able to use the word submission, feeling more compelled to use the word surrender. I began to ask the Lord why. . .
In pondering the meaning and essence of submission, I find myself confronted with a sense of harshness and dominance: a person in a position of authority over another may demand submission from his or her subordinate. In this case, one can submit to authority grudgingly, in effect doing what is asked, but with a heart that is quite possibly in rebellion, metaphorically with clenched teeth and fists.
When I think of the essence of surrender, I sense a heart and will that are yielded to God's will. This component of the yielded heart seems to be missing in the concept and essence of submission.
As I continued to ponder these two words, the Lord began to show me that he is most interested in the status of my heart (and therefore my will). He is not interested in me submitting to his Lordship out of sheer grit and determination, if my heart is not also willing to do so, for that would put God in an authoritarian position. Rather, the Lord is ultimately interested in inviting me to surrender to his Lordship over every area of my life. The essence of surrender is that I am willing to accept his Lordship, and therefore I surrender my will to his will for me.
I love the idea of invitation. In this dance of the spiritual life with God, he does not demand anything of me or from me. Rather, he invites me to join him in seeing the world and my life through the eyes of his heart. He then waits for me to agree to surrender my will in favor of his will for me. Once I find within myself the willingness to make this shift, he then goes to work enabling my heart and will to make it real. In doing so, I am then able to journey on with God from a place of authenticity and honesty, trust and peace.
God is always respectful of my will: he may ask whatever he will of me, but he will not force me to comply. In his love, mercy and grace, he woos me to a place where I begin to see his truth, and discover deep within my heart a desire for his plans and purposes for my life. This is a foundational process of dancing with God: invitation and acceptance, out of a willingly surrendered heart.
This is the process that moves me further along the sanctification path of transformation into holiness.