Surrender Is Not a Passive Process
Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God . . . 2 Corinthians 3:5
Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, the addict will still often act as if he knows what’s best for himself. In one moment, he’ll acknowledge that he must surrender his will, while in the next, he’ll insist on doing something that everyone around him sees as obviously self-destructive. In theory, he knows he shouldn’t rely on his own judgement, but when it comes down to the practicality of the actual decision, he simply can’t relinquish control of his day to day choices.
This may be one of the hardest lessons that I’ve ever had to learn and it’s one that I must continue to learn over and over. In my addiction, I knew that what I was doing was profoundly self-destructive, but in the moment of the actual decision, I repeatedly and impulsively followed my will. In treatment, when I went to God, asking what I must do to leave behind my disaster, he insisted that I must daily make a genuine effort to follow him instead of me – for the rest of my life.
You’d think I’d have learned my lesson, but I still wrestle with impulsively following my way. I’ve heard others say, Let go and let God. You’re trying too hard. Just sit back and surrender. I can’t speak to those individual’s experience, but I can tell you that for me, surrender has been anything but a passive process. When I sit back and do nothing, I simply do what comes natural to me, which is rarely constructive. Changing nothing means that nothing changes.
When I must change a thought or behavior, it’s profoundly hard work to relinquish control of my will. For me, I need to make radical life changes to facilitate surrender, or I’ll continually return to my disaster. Unfortunately, it’s often only in the misery of that disaster that I become willing to do what it takes to find transformation.
When we’re struggling with our own toxic will, we do need to surrender. Learning to give up our will though, usually requires obedience, which is rarely a sit-back-and-do-nothing kind of thing. Surrender doesn’t mean doing nothing, but rather means doing whatever it takes to abandon our way to follow God’s.