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Control and Surrender

Thoughts on control

by Nils von Kalm


U2’s song Moment of Surrender has a line which simply says ‘to be released from control’. It is yet another line from a U2 song which has hit me like a brick.

Just about everything we do in life is designed to keep us in control of our lives. But the life of the cross is about relinquishing control to the only one who is ultimately trustworthy. Oh to be released from control on that day when we will have new bodies and new minds in the fully consummated kingdom of God.

I realised this morning that until my dying day I will be forever having to surrender the desire, no, the demand, to control my own life. C.S. Lewis described himself at his conversion as the most reluctant convert in all England. I think many of us can relate to that. Through the years of our lives we are constantly backing away from our hell instead of marching on our knees into heaven.

The paradox of the way of Jesus is that life is found only when we die to ourselves. The life of surrender is the life if victory – victory in defeat as Irish singer Sammy Horner puts it. God help me to surrender all to You every day.


Surrender and paradox (7 September 2010)

by Nils von Kalm


Recently I’ve been thinking about how attractive the idea of surrender is to me. I wrote (above) how I seem to spend most of our lives clinging on to control when the fact is that I cannot do life on my own. Surrender is the way to freedom. The way to life is in giving up – giving up control and the idea that I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul, to quote William E. Henley.

I have no power to live life the way I want to live it, and so I submit to Christ in full surrender. But the more I realise that this is the way to life, the more I find myself resisting. For me, it is a matter of trust; trust that God really is good and that the life God wants for me is not too good to be true. Just like Peter who, when Jesus had just demonstrated the outrageous grace of God, could only say “go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8) [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke%205:1-11&version=TNIV], I don’t believe I deserve the grace that God gives. And truth be told I don’t deserve it. No one does. But give it he does, and when I accept it, I enter into that life that is truly life, where I am free from having to perform, free from having to strive, where I am free.

Paul said “when I am weak then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). True Christianity never aligns itself with power. It always aligns itself with weakness, with failure, and with powerlessness. Richard Rohr, as usual, sums it up brilliantly:

When Christianity aligns itself with power (and the mindset of power) there’s simply very little room for the darkness of faith; that spacious place where God is actually able to form us.

So when we speak of paradox, I’m trying to open up that space where you can “fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), because YOU are not in control. That is always the space of powerlessness, vulnerability, and letting go. Faith happens in that wonderful place, and hardly ever when we have all the power and can hold no paradoxes. Thus you see why faith will invariably be a minority and suspect position.

Surrender, faith, and paradox. The combination that gives the life that transforms our hearts, and then transforms the world.


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