What comes to mind when you hear the word surrender?
For me, I usually think of defeat. I think of a weaker opponent yielding to a strong opponent. Sometimes I want the surrender to happen before it actually does. For instance, consider one team being badly beaten by another team, but the game not being ready to end because of the time left, or the innings remaining, etc. (I did actually witness a team walk off the field in the middle of an inning once because of how bad the other team was winning – that image has stuck with me for over 30 years).
But could surrender be good? I don’t mean that the “losing” side tries to end the suffering. I mean surrendering because of a realization that something is better.
That is my latest discovery in this journey towards understanding the Sabbath.
You may have read in previous posts that I could not decide to take a Sabbath because I was too busy and it would be squeezed out from my plans. Rather, I have repeatedly commented that I needed to make time for a Sabbath, so it would happen. In other words, I need to start with the idea that Sabbath will happen rather than scheduling it and then hoping to actually find the time to rest.
This distinction is important, in part, because in the first few weeks, I have discovered how difficult it can be to break free from the expectations of work.
And my intention to make Sabbath was good. In fact, by making the time, I have discovered that I truly need Sabbath. And I have discovered how much the Sabbath is helping me. So, making time for Sabbath, has been a good approach thus far.
But it is not enough.
I need to do more than take a Sabbath. I need to do more than make time for Sabbath. I need to surrender to Sabbath.
I have been taking my Sabbath on Saturday, not because the day encapsulates most of the day as recorded in the Bible, but because Saturday is the day that I can best control my time.
But that is the problem. I am still looking to control the process. Sabbath is not meant to be controlled. It is meant to be experienced.
For this past month, my Sabbath has started on Saturday morning at midnight and lasted through the full day. But really it started when I went to bed on Friday night (if I went to bed earlier than midnight) and lasted until Sunday morning, if I went to bed before midnight on Saturday.
Frankly, that is ok, but again, I was largely in control.
But Sabbath, from a biblical perspective, was from sundown to sundown. Starting at sundown is different. I don’t get to set the time. God does. And the time changes each and every week. During the summer months, sundown is later. During the winter months, it is earlier. Sure, it is still about 24 hours, but allowing God to set the Sabbath time based upon the sun, rather than abiding by a clock is a huge mental shift.
It is not only a shift in time. It is a shift in focus.
It is a shift from me trying to maintain control, to acknowledging that God is in control. Of course, I know that mentally, but am I willing to experience that truth fully.
In other words, am I willing to surrender?
Am I willing to surrender to Sabbath? And if I am unwilling to surrender to Sabbath, am I willing to surrender to God?
So, this week, I am going to surrender to Sabbath. This week, I am going to observe Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. I am doing so not because I have to do so (as Paul makes clear in Romans 14, see verses 5-6), but because I want to do so.
And now, given the idea of surrendering, I am considering if Sunday would not be a better day for me to take that rest. I am not convinced it will be, but as my understanding and appreciation of Sabbath grows, I am becoming more open to many ideas.
And it all starts with being willing to surrender.
So, this week, I am choosing to surrender to something with a greater purpose. I am choosing to surrender to Someone with a greater purpose.
Perhaps, your surrender is not to Sabbath. But we all need to surrender something in order to better surrender ourselves to God.
I encourage you to explore what is holding you back. Is it control (like me)? Or fear? Or pride? Or something else?
Take time to determine what is preventing you from fully engaging what you know you are to do – from what you truly want to do (deep down).
Then ask God to help you surrender to what He wants, and in effect, to surrender to Him.
Surrender may not be a popular word in our culture today. But the only way to truly engage with God is to surrender to Him what prevents us from truly knowing Him.
For me, this journey to Sabbath has revealed one issue – the control of my time.
For you, the answer is likely something different.
But whatever it is for each of us, the answer begins with surrender.