The sermon was on sacrifices, and how sacrifices are always worth it for the Lord. At the end of the service all the able-bodied people stood and sang the chorus of I Surrender All. Many people may have walked out of that service feeling good about themselves and how they would be willing to sacrifice for the Lord should He ever call upon them.
The minute the song was over I said to my husband, “Well that’s a big lie!” Chad Jagger chuckled in agreement, but I must have said it too loudly because the couple in front of us turned in shock. The young lady looked at me as if I was blasphemous. I looked her in the eyes and inquired, “Who means that? Do you mean that? I don’t mean that! I’m not willing to surrender ALL!”
She shook her head in agreement and quickly stepped away.
None of the Jaggers ever sing that song in corporate worship. It’s because we know in our hearts we don’t really mean what we are singing, and we sure don’t want to lie to the Lord.
I don’t really mean I am willing to surrender anything and everything to the Lord. I feel as if my family has been through enough heartache. I don’t want my children to die. I don’t want my children to be hurt worse than they already are hurt. I don’t want my husband to die for a whole host of reasons, but one of the main reasons is I don’t know how I’d handle all of the paralysis work by myself. It seems incomprehensible to surrender more money here on Earth to pay our medical bills, but I’m not going to willingly offer any more than we’ve already had to pay. I feel as if we’ve literally paid our dues.
On the car ride home my paraplegic daughter was still talking about the song. “I can’t sing that song. I don’t mean it! I need my arms and fingers. I’m not willing to give them up! My brain? I need my brain.”
We are now four freaks in a world that is perhaps singing without thought and honesty. Before the wreck, we also glibly sang the words on a screen at the front of the church, kidding ourselves that we were “good enough Christians,” that we would surely willingly surrender whatever the Lord said we must surrender. Yes, we would be willing to “sacrifice” a little more time, a little more money, a little of this, and a little of that. We never dreamed what we had in mind as a few “little sacrifices” would instead be gargantuan sacrifices.
Now we know the truth about ourselves. Now that our life has seismically shifted, there’s no pretending as we sing songs in church. The tough things. The important things. The things which really matter in life . . . we won’t give them up willingly. They have to be taken away from us.
I think God knows that about us. The people in the pew in front of us may have been shocked by my candor, but I don’t think God was rocked for one minute. I think He’d rather I be honest than fake. And so I’ve wrestled with that song. I told my husband, “I wrestle way more with the words in songs than I ever do with Scripture.” I guess that means I have more trouble with the words of humans rather than the word of God.
I asked Chad Jagger, “Do you think God honestly believes and expects that all of us are ready to willingly surrender everything? Our spouse? Our children? Our health? Our limbs? Our brain? Our money? Our house? What if the sacrifice isn’t being willing to readily surrender the important big things in life? What if the sacrifice is simply admitting and acknowledging that God is in charge; that everything and everyone truly belongs to Him? And the agreement that yes, everyone and everything we hold dear could be taken away if He deems that His plan? And then when those most important of most important blessings are taken away, still being willing to praise Him and trust Him despite the pain and heartache?”
My husband replied, “That is deep.” He paused, “But I think you are right.”
Maybe my unwillingness to sing I Surrender All on a Sunday morning makes me the worst sinner in the place, or the most honest gal in the church. I’m not sure.
No. I am honestly not willing to surrender all. But when I do have to surrender what seems impossible to surrender, may I still praise Him, may I still trust Him, and may I still look forward to a future filled with His goodness, love, and hope.
Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.