Plough Logo

Shopping Cart

      View Cart

    Subtotal: $

    Checkout
    black and white photo of a rowboat in still water

    Are We Willing to Surrender?

    God waits for us to open our lives to him.

    J. Heinrich Arnold

    July 23, 2021
    3 Comments
    3 Comments
    3 Comments
      Submit
    • Charles Lewicki

      "Jesus,You take over"!This is the surrender prayer that Father Dolindo within my Catholic tradition is noted for. This prayer assumes that we abandon our own solutions and surrender the matter to Jesus. Arnold's books are always worth reading.

    • Tom Nabors

      Why are some willing to surrender themselves to God voluntarily, as you put it, "to open the windows of our hearts so that his goodness can enter and fill our lives?" Why do some "ask God to enter our hearts?" Is it true only for some that they "experience that God is good – and that he alone is good – [and that for them] is it possible to yield our whole heart, soul, and being to him willingly and unconditionally, and out of love?" It must be something in them. Either they are more righteous, more intelligent, more in tune with their spirituality.

    • .Joe Norquist , M.D.

      Thank you for tghe provocative article by J. Heinrich Arnold about surrendering our wills to God. I am wondering if "Surrender" is the proper word to use. It brings to mind surrendering to an enemy in war or a burglar incovilian life. I like to think I am asking God to show ME what I must or should do to help in various situations orwhe desiring to actually DO God's will. Perhaps "submission" could have a clearer meaning his thoughts. We ask God to show us and help us to do what should be done. We actually would usually know what we SHOULD do but fail to do so. Then we will actually DO what we know is God's will. To be more compassionate and helpful to others. To be loving, patient, understanding and kind to others. To make this world a better place.

    This article is an excerpt from Freedom from Sinful Thoughts.


    If we believe that faith is a gift from God, it follows that for this gift to become ours, we must willingly receive it. And we must receive it as it is given – we cannot dictate the path on which it takes us or the way it might change our lives. In short, to receive faith in God, we must surrender all faith in our own power to bring about change: “His power is made perfect in our weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

    In an ancient text known as The Shepherd, the early Christian Hermas uses a vivid parable to show us the necessity of dismantling our human power. He describes the kingdom of God as a great marble temple in the process of being built, and each man or woman in the world as a potential building block. Those blocks that appear useful are chiseled by the master stonemason, and if they fit, they are used. Those that do not must be discarded. To me, the picture has a simple but profound meaning: God is able to use us only insofar as we are willing to be chiseled for his purposes – that is, only insofar as we surrender ourselves in order to serve his needs.

    What is true surrender? A person may yield to a stronger person, or an army to a stronger army. We may yield to God because he is almighty, or because we fear his judgment. None of this is full surrender. Only if we experience that God is good – and that he alone is good – is it possible to yield our whole heart, soul, and being to him willingly and unconditionally, and out of love.

    My father once said about this:

    It is hard to describe how we are stripped of power, how it must be dropped, dismantled, torn down, and put away. … It is not easily attained and will not happen by means of a single heroic decision. It must be done in us by God. Yet this is the root of grace: the dismantling of our power. And only to the degree that it is dismantled can God work in us, through his Holy Spirit, and construct his holy cause in us.

    Naturally, the first step we must take is to ask God to enter our hearts. It is not that he cannot or does not want to act without our asking, but that he waits for us to open our lives to him of our own accord. “Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).

    black and white photo of a rowboat in still water with birds flying over

    Photograph by Esteban Amaro

    Many people wonder why God does not force his will on them, if he is so powerful. Yet that is simply how God is. He waits for our readiness. It is true that he punishes those he loves and calls them to repentance; but he never forces his goodness on them.

    If a father were to take his child by the throat and force his good intentions on him, the child would instinctively feel that this was not love. For the same reason, God does not force his will on anyone. So we are confronted by a momentous question: are we willing to surrender ourselves to God voluntarily – to open the windows of our hearts so that his goodness can enter and fill our lives?

    To be sure, such surrender is never easy, but takes place against a backdrop of powerful forces. Jesus himself had to fight so hard to surrender his will to the Father’s that he sweated drops of blood. Evil surrounded him on all sides, yet he remained faithful: his attitude was “Not my will, but your will.” This should be our attitude too.

    Often the most difficult situations – unexpected tragedy or death, suffering or sudden loss – will arise in life without our understanding why. It is the same in the struggle against sinful thoughts. Just when we are sure the battle over this or that obstacle has been won, we may be newly attacked. Even then, the answer lies in full surrender to Jesus.

    Everyone is bound to go through hard times, and for some, the struggle to accept hardship will seem insurmountable. Yet we should never forget that the final victory belongs to God: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but a new heaven and a new earth are coming.”

    Contributed By J. Heinrich Arnold J. Heinrich Arnold

    Johann Heinrich Arnold is best known for his books which have helped thousands to follow Christ in their daily lives. Those who knew him best remember Arnold as a down-to-earth man who would warmly welcome any troubled person in for a cup of coffee and a chat.

    Learn More
    3 Comments