The Hard Work of Surrender

This morning I was reading about Zedekiah, king of Israel, who was at the helm during the siege fall of Jerusalem. I always thought that he must have been an evil man. After all, if you are in charge during the most traumatic event in biblical history, nobody is going to mistake you for a good man. But the problem with Zedekiah was not his wickedness or his evil intentions, it was his lack of character.

Jeremiah the prophet comes to Zedekiah with some bad news just about a decade into his reign. The attacking Babylonians were going to win. The word from the Lord was that fighting was futile. As you can imagine, this was not a message that was well-received within the king’s courts. So Zedekiah’s best advisors came up with a plan and brought it before the king. Throw the guy into a dry well. After all, it was Jeremiah who was famous for calling the assorted idols of the Israelites broken wells that can hold no water. Irony was alive and well even in their day, so down into the well went Jeremiah.

But it was not long before Jeremiah’s friend Ebed-melech who was an Ethiopian eunuch and a servant of the king, heard about his misfortune and pled his case before the king. So Zedekiah changed his mind and ordered the rescue and release of Jeremiah the prophet. And he called him to a secret meeting.

Can you imagine somebody waffling like that? I mean, where is your pride, Zedekiah? There is a word for this sort of behavior. We call it spineless. The king of Israel, in the darkest days of their existence, cannot make up his mind about how he feels about the prophet of God. But the story goes on.

Jeremiah tells the king to surrender and save his and his family’s skin. If he surrendered, then the invaders would spare him, his family, and the city itself. So what does he do? Does he surrender? Does he fight? Or does he run? Yep. He runs.
And I wonder if I would do the same thing, if I were in his shoes. I probably would, to be honest, because for all the talk I could bring about either a. fighting to the death, or b. listening to God and surrendering, I find myself on the run more often than not.

And why not run? Zedekiah was watching his entire world crumbling around in front of him, and he was just looking around for his last chance at control. That is what we do when we are afraid. In the words of John Cleese, when counseled not to panic, What else is there to do?!

But my call, and your call is the same today as it was to Zedekiah. Stop. Surrender. Do not fight. Do not run. Surrender.

This will look different in each situation in our lives. Sometimes surrender will look like going back to work even though you think your boss is a jerk. Sometimes surrender will look like owning up to how you have hurt another. Sometimes surrender will look like accepting the forgiveness of another. Sometimes surrender will look like working hard, as unto the Lord, and sometimes it will mean taking a vacation, resting and trusting that all sovereignty lies in the hands of God.

But surrender will always come from the same place. It will come from an ear that hears God, a heart that seeks him, and a mind that is transformed, day after day, by his word.

We will only surrender when we begin to believe that God is God, and we will only surrender happily when we begin to believe that God is for us.

One thought on “The Hard Work of Surrender

  1. Thanks for writing and encouraging me. Came here via your relevant-article and also loved the post abour Gideon (my son’s name) and found out that we share an enthusiasm for Bonhoeffer! Will keep following your writings…

    Greetings from Germany,
    Daniel

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