Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
What Does It Mean to Surrender?
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19
Good morning Prayer Team!
What does it mean to surrender? We’ve all seen scenes on TV and in the movies where a vanquished army or a criminal comes out with hands raised in the air and surrenders to the police or to another army. So, we’ve been conditioned to think that surrendering means “giving up,” even “quitting.” Surrendering to God doesn’t mean giving up or quitting on anything. I guess you could make the argument that maybe it refers to giving up on sinful things or bad habits, but it doesn’t mean giving up smiling, or laughing, or having fun. To surrender to God means to cede control of your life to Him. So, what does that mean? Let’s use some contemporary, understandable examples.
We cede control a lot more than we think we do. For instance, if your child plays on a sports team, you cede control of your schedule to the coach. When the coach schedules practice, you make sure your child is there. When there is a game on the weekend, yard work, free time (and unfortunately church and Sunday school sometimes) and family time gets shoved aside for sports. And when there is an extra tournament with some extra fees, then some money gets ceded as well. We cede time and money eagerly for sports. I say “eagerly” because if there weren’t people eagerly doing it, there would be no organized youth sports. Parents surrender to the coaches of their kids’ teams.
Let’s look at the “independent-minded” child who plays on the sports team, the one who doesn’t want to do their homework or keep their room clean or be nice to their parents, who all of a sudden will do ANYTHING for the coach. They will come to practice whenever it’s scheduled, run laps, lift weights, sacrifice weekends and vacation days, and push themselves past what they believe their physical limits are. They are surrendering to their coach.
We surrender our bodies to our doctors when it comes to diagnostic tests and surgical procedures. We surrender our teeth to our dentists. We surrender our broken computers and appliances to technicians. We surrender our time to our bosses, and sometimes we surrender over time, going out of town time and extra work time to them as well. Students surrender to teachers. Spouses surrender to each other.
Each surrender comes with a cost. However, the costs are obviously “worth it” or we wouldn’t keep surrendering. For instance, I don’t like surrendering to the doctor but I willingly do it to know that I have a clean bill of health. It is worth the surrender.
So, as much as we don’t like the word surrender, and seems to shy away from the idea of “surrendering” to God, surrender is actually a pretty regular part of any regular life. The question I wonder is, “why can’t we surrender to God” if we are willing to surrender to bosses, teachers and coaches, people who at the end of the day we have temporary relationships with. Kids get older, workers retire, and ultimately people die—so all the people we surrendered to, at the end of life, aren’t really that important.
Some questions to ponder today include, “if I willingly (and sometimes joyfully) surrender to people who may not even be that important, why do I have such a hard time surrendering my life to God?” Do we only surrender if there is a tangible reward—like a paycheck or a trophy? Is it hard to surrender because we don’t understand the reward?
And today’s Bible quote from Romans reminds us that our failure to surrender and be obedient is what led humanity to be sinful. However, the example of obedience and surrender modeled by Christ is what can make us, and many others, righteous.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all Thy wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in Thee, I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2
Ponder over who in your life you surrender to, why you surrender, and what prohibits you from surrendering fully to God.
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: Doses of Grace
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