Surrender is an important topic for Christians. It can also be uncomfortable, confusing, and even repelling.
Several months ago I wrote a post, Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart, where I shared how the Bible teaches that only the surrendered heart can stand before God’s throne to worship Him: “Words are merely that - words - until poured out from a heart bowed before God. And the ‘bowing’ part is what makes it worship. Bowing is the heart’s response of submission and surrender to the God it’s exalting.”
We tend to view surrender as a negative thing – involving enemies and duress – that results in loss of freedom, forfeiture of blessings, and the degrading of the soul.
But when you surrender all that you are to a holy, loving, perfect and true God – it results in freedom . . . blessing . . . and renewal. More importantly, it results in glory for the one true God – our Savior!
While true submission is born in the heart, I constantly remind myself of the need to express that submission even further in my worship – because I keep running into verses like these:
“Exalt the LORD our God And worship at His footstool; Holy is He” (Psalm 99:5).
“Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker”
“May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2).
And after the resurrection, “And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him” (Matthew 28:9).
These are powerful pictures of the submission and surrender of the entire person – body, mind, and soul. It’s allowing and trusting God to move however He desires in and through you, instead of limiting the response you’re willing to give Him.
*Our culture doesn’t seem too comfortable with physical worship expressions in public. I think part of that has to do with the fact that it is a very intimate, personal response toward God.
I spent many years not getting my hands above my shoulders during public worship. But I discovered that as I allowed myself to enjoy the lifting of my hands in times of private worship, I wanted to enjoy it publicly, as well. I think that was because, for me personally, my hands are very connected with my mind. If my hands are uninvolved, then my mind tends to be less involved.
But I’ve heard people whom I respect tremendously say that they’re raising their hands big time on the inside, though it may not be noticeable on the outside. And I believe them. I would just encourage you to not write it off, never try it, or even discourage it, for it could be the hidden secret to increasing the tunnel vision of your own worship.*
But it needs to be His choice – His leading – as I surrender all of who I am to His will. (And yes, He may even want me to be still! Psalm 46:10)
Remember, like the words, actions aren’t nearly enough on their own. They are outward expressions of an attitude that must begin on the inside. Actions for the sake of actions are in vain. They are encouraged biblically as a means to further engage in worship, not to be a distraction from it.
*And the goal is not to make everyone act the same. But it’s to encourage you to pour all of who God created you to be into your worship of Him. . . . God undoubtedly loves the unique way He created each one of us. And as Christians, we know that as truly different as we are from one another (and think about that from a global perspective!), we all worship the very same God – through the drawing and direction of the very same Spirit.*
So what should my surrender in worship look like? Whatever He desires!
Ask God to help you follow His lead as you worship. Surrender your preconceived notions and routines. And strive to enter into the same expressions of surrender, joy, reverence, and affection that the psalmists expressed – physically, mentally, emotionally, and sincerely. Offer all you are to your amazing, worthy God.
“I will praise you, Lord my God, with my whole heart. I will glorify your name forevermore. For your loving kindness is great toward me” (Psalm 86:12-13a).
Why do you think surrendering our physical expression in worship, even privately, is so difficult?
* Sections between * * are excerpts from my book, Worship and the Word.
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