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Are You Brave Enough to Surrender?
By Col. Scott McChrystal, Battle Ready Ministries Board Advisor
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I was 12 and hanging out with two friends, Terry, 12, and David, 14.
In one of those random “I have to prove myself” moments, Terry challenged David to a fight. They were almost the same size, but David knew how to box. Before long, Terry’s nose and mouth were bleeding, but he wouldn’t quit. He would not surrender. Repeatedly, David and I tried to persuade Terry to stop. His face grew bloodier with each punch David landed. Finally, David and I forced Terry to back off. His face was a mess, but his attitude was worse.
Some might say Terry was brave. But “brave” was not the word that came to my mind. The whole episode had felt senseless, pig-headed, stubborn, and even stupid. I’m glad to say the fight didn’t end Terry and David’s friendship. But what had Terry proved? To me, two things—David was a better boxer, and Terry didn’t know when to surrender.
Surrender carries many shades of meaning. In the context of war, it often denotes defeat and submission to a stronger foe. Some view surrender as weakness, and even cowardice. In medical terms, it can describe dying after a terrible disease.
Spiritually speaking, surrender is powerfully positive, describing our submission to God. But it’s not a concept most people care to embrace. Why? For many, it signifies a loss of control, something that really grinds our human nature. Let’s face it, we want to think we’re in charge.
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There’s just one problem with this thinking. The God of the Bible, our Creator, insists He is in control. He is the One in charge, and He wants us to surrender ourselves to Him and to His plan for our lives.
Surrender, even to the Commander of the Universe, is hard. In 1973, I surrendered my life to Jesus. My decision looked like this. First, I knew I wasn’t the captain of my ship. Someone else was. My preacher told me it was Jesus. Second, I knew I was a sinner and certainly saw the wisdom of spending eternity with God in heaven versus spending eternity in hell. For me, giving my life to Christ was a no-brainer.
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However, having been a Christian for almost 50 years now, I have learned a few things about surrender. Most importantly, I have learned that surrender is a lifelong pursuit. When I confessed my sins to Jesus and asked Him to come into my life, I was sincere. But it was not a complete surrender—not even close. There are strongholds in my life, and they don’t fall easily—pride, selfishness, fear, and not wanting to be completely transparent and vulnerable.
I’ve also learned that these strongholds won’t fall by human strength or willpower. The Lord, by His Holy Spirit, is my only hope. At 74, I certainly can’t assume I have many more years to surrender more fully.
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My 2023 New Year’s resolution—No. 1 on my list—is that I want to surrender to Jesus more completely. I want to surrender to His love so that He can empower me to love Him and my fellow man more fully. I want to decrease so that He may increase.
Based on what I am reading daily in the Bible, if I can surrender more and more—mind, body, soul, and spirit—to Jesus and to His love, the Lord will help me to follow Him and fulfill His plan for my life.
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11, NIV).
Total surrender to Jesus takes courage, trust, and faith. Are you brave enough to surrender?
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Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal, Ret.
Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal was commissioned in 1970 and served 31 years on active duty, 10 as an infantry officer and the remainder as a United States Army chaplain. His line officer experience included a tour in Vietnam as an Infantry Platoon Leader and three assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His final assignment was as the senior chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He retired from active duty in 2005 and served as the Military/VA Representative and Endorser within the Chaplaincy Department for the General Council of the Assemblies of God from 2005-2019. His decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Award, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, and the Army Ranger Tab. His education includes a Master of Business Administration Degree, a Master of Divinity Degree, a Doctor of Ministry Degree, and graduation from The United States Army War College. In recent years, he and his wife have written several Christian devotionals. In addition, Scott co-authored a Christian action-novel and served as the managing editor for the The Warrior’s Bible, an application Bible for the military community. He presently serves as the Executive Liaison for The Warrior’s Journey, a non-profit organization that supports the military community. He’s also a member of the Distinguished Advisory Board for Battle Ready Ministries. He and his wife, Judy, live in Springfield, Missouri, and have 4 children and 12 grandchildren.