Another early morning wake up call. Today, I awoke and had this weekend running through my mind. I have two different places to be on Saturday and the thoughts of how I would balance them was weighing on me a little bit. Thank the Lord, He stepped in to sit with me a while to let me know He’s got everything under control.
One of the meetings I have this Saturday is to prepare for an adult weekend retreat and at the same time, I have the first core team meeting for a youg adult weekend retreat. God reminded me that the theme for the upcoming adult weekend has to do with surrender. Then He gave me two references to His surrender. “WHAT?!”, you may say. God surrender? Let me explain.
Our modern day concept of surrender is giving up or giving in to opposing forces. In fact, if you google the definition of the word “surrender” (because who uses paper dictionaries anymore?), you will find this definition at http://www.merriam-webster.com:
: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed
: to give the control or use of (something) to someone else
: to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you
I don’t argue with these definitions, after all, they do come from the internet (joking) and Merriam-Webster at that, but they each connotate a sense of defeat. OK, maybe not the second definition so much, but there is no “victory” in these definitions. You are probably scratching your head at this point wondering “Victory? Surrender? Where is this going?”
God’s first surrender for humankind: When God spoke, “Let there be light,” He knew. When God knelt down and got His hands dirty, He knew. When God leaned down to that lump of dirt and expelled His life-giving breath into Adam, He knew. When God invested time alone with Adam in the garden naming all the animals, He knew. When God took a rib from Adam and formed Eve, He knew.
He knew that all of His creation would be affected, even contaminated by a fallen angel’s tempting and man’s disobedience. He knew the perfect state He intended His creation to exist in would be soiled by giving free-will (control) to human-kind. Dirt on!
But, He did it anyway. Surrender.
Thank Him! The story does not end with two angels standing with flaming swords guarding the gates to Eden.
The next reference God gave me this morning was a surrender victory in an upper room before Jesus went to enter the garden of restoration (Gethsemane).
In that upper room, as the passover dinner was taking place, Jesus knelt down to wash His disciples feet. John 13: 3-5 reads:
3 because he knew that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he had come forth from God and was going away to God, 4 he got up from the dinner and took off his outer clothing, and taking a towel, tied it around himself. 5 Then he poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them dry with the towel which he had tied around himself.
Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Jn 13:3–5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
It is clear from Peter’s reaction to this act of servanthood (surrender), that he could not imagine his Lord on this level. In fact, Peter proclaims that he would never, for all eternity, allow Jesus to wash his feet ( John 13:8) “You will never wash my feet forever!”
Peter’s reaction is understandable. In our day, where it is a sacred moment for spiritual retreats and passover services in some churches, or dismissed altogether by others, foot washing was a common practice in Jesus’ time. However, it didn’t hold sacred meaning. Instead, it was a practical service to those who entered your house. It cleaned the dirt that gathered on your feet as you walked the world’s streets and fields in open sandals. The washer was not a prominent member of your household. It wasn’t even a prominent servant who performed the foot washing. Washing guest’s feet was reserved for the lowest servant in the household. Peter’s reaction, in his time, was understandable. Jesus’ action, on the other hand, was not.
Jesus responded by telling Peter (John 13:8) “Unless I wash you, you do not have a share with me.”
I want you to pause here. Meditate on that for a few minutes…
With Jesus’ surrender to accept the will of God requiring His sacrifice, He brought victory. The surrender to take the lowest servant’s place and wash His disciples feet demonstrated a power that did not need pomp and circumstance. He did not need to be vindicated with a display of “See how great I am.” Rather, in this act of surrender, He was saying “See how low I am willing to reach to redeem you, cleanse you, and give you victory!”