How to Make the Surrender
I BELIEVE the best way to tell my reader how to make the surrender to a life of faith is to tell how it came in my own life. He will doubtless be surprised to find that it is no startling event, no phenomenal experience, no "second blessing" of any sort. It was just a growing up, or coming to maturity of understanding, and beginning to 1ive in the spiritual mind.
Let me remind the reader of something I have already said: Spirituality is not necessarily goodness. It is, rather, a spiritual understanding, which brings us to see that we are not good, can never be, and that God alone can do for us what is needful to our spiritual growth and achievement. Thus we turn it allover to God, and walk by faith, trusting Him to work His work in us.
This maturity may be illustrated. We have all heard of that period in a young man's life which we call "climbing fool's hill." That is the time when he is learning so much and so rapidly that he is sure he will know everything in a short while. He cannot take advice, knows more than anybody else, sees the out-modedness of anyone who dares to advise, and climbs the steeps by leaps and bounds. It is as if he had started at the Atlahtic coast line, rapidly crossing the narrow plains that lead to the mountains just a little to the west of the ocean. By leaps and bounds he comes
to the highest peak, in all the enthusiasm of his young manhood, expecting the world to crown him for his success. When he arrives he is startled to see that this is merely the beginning; that soon he must level off to the long trek down into the basin of the Ohio river and out across the miles and miles that lead to the plains west of the Mississippi. Farther on in the blue distance arise the mighty Rockies over which he must pass before he can slip down to the sunset of glory which life at last can give.
Of course, he cannot see all that lies ahead of him, but he now becomes seriously aware of the fact that life is too long and too involved to try to walk alone. Soberness sets in, and he begins to search for a guide who can lead him along that way. He looks back now and sees many a misstep which he could have avoided if he had listened to more mature guidance. He begins to be aware that it is better not to walk alone.
This is the feeling that came over me several years ago, and I felt deeply the need of some one who knew the way to guide me. I became aware of the fact that I could not walk this way alone. I began to seek the guidance of God more seriously. I was a young pastor, with great church problems. There were deaths in the family, births of our two babies, financial difficulties, and many other problems cbmbining to make life burdensome and uncertain. I looked back, like the boy on the mountain top, and saw many mistakes I had made. I had not known how to live, how to manage, how to be a good father, a good husband, a good pastor, how to use my time, and a thousand things I did not know. Like all men who come to some maturity, I have wished a thousand times that I might go back and change some of my mistakes. I knew so little about how
to live. And on that basis I must realize that even yet I know so little about it.
I wanted to be a good servant of God. I longed for power and wisdom and godliness. I fought, testings and temptation and found myself so weak and powerless, so often failing. I made such a light impact upon the world around me. I came to see my nothingness and prayed daily for light and help. I wanted to be wholly my Lord's but seemed not to make any progress in that direction. Dozens of things combined to irritate me and to make my progress impossible. I was bound by cords. When I would do good evil was present with me. I found a war in my members, the flesh warring against the Spirit. Earnestly I cried for deliverance.
Let me say here, dear reader, you can never know the life of faith unless you want to know it. You have to have the desire, or it will never come. And this, it seems, must come from God. It does not arise from the flesh.
God was helping me, but I didn't know it. A little book dropped into my life now and then. Usually, the little books are best. I wish this one were smaller. Even now I think it is getting too long. But, I say, a book came now and then, with a message urging my surrender. Over and over I surrendered. I did not make public consecrations; I just prayed God to help me find the answer. I believe that the more I prayed and sought help the more there was to irritate and make me sin. Temptation kept growing instead of decreasing. I was reading the Word, reading spiritual mes- sages in books or articles, making a complete surrender every day, and looking for results, but seeing none. Every day it seemed that I had less results to encourage me. I was not spiritual, and I knew it. I saw by the results that
I was making no progress. There was too much sin, too much perplexity, too much weakness. I did not know what to do.
That lasted over a period of several years. I was so unwise in my attempts to direct my own life and the life of my family, and that of my church! I can look with great embarrassment upon the mistakes I made. The only thing I can remember that makes me feel grateful was this: I was saying all the while, "Lord, I am making such a poor showing. I am ashamed that I can be no better and do no better. I want to be all you want me to be, but I'm failing by the hour. I may never succeed, Lord, but one thing I know, and that I can die with - I want to be yours and I want your help." I believe if lov~d ones could have looked into my heart during that struggle they would have seen a different man on the inside from the one they some times saw outwardly.
Then one day a little book came into my hands. I will tell you the name of it, for it may help you. It is quite well known. It is, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whitall Smith. I don't remember much that is in it, though I read it several times. There was only one little spot that I heeded badly.
I shall state merely the substance of what the author says in the chapter on "How to Enter In. " She said, in substance: "You have often come to Him, bringing your life in surrender. You have wanted to be His completely and feel the power to live the risen life. You know He wants you to live that life and offers you His grace and power with which to live it. But you looked for results and it did not seem that anything came of your surrender. Here is the thing you failed to do: you failed to believe
that He took your life when you gave it to Him. You came offering your life, but you did not believe He took it. Why didn't you? Did He not invite you to trust Him with your life? Did you not do it? Is He not bound to take it and make of it what He wills? Then believe it, and leave it there."
It was so simple when I saw it. It was exactly what they had told me to do when I was saved. God had spoken, they said, now I was to believe His Word and take it as true. After I trusted and was saved, it all seemed so simple. Now here I was with a life I couldn't live, and crying out for somebody to help me. Christ was saying He would take my life and do with it what He would. I had surrendered it to Him, but had failed to believe that He took it.
The Holy Spirit helped me to grasp this simple truth, and put me over the hurdle. I began to accept it as done. For a long year I watched for results. Nothing happened, except that maybe I was weaker than ever. I think now God was testing my faith. Every time the question would arise, and no results were there to confirm me, I would say, "Lord, I trusted you; if you are true, you took my life. I cannot live it; you must do it for me. Regardless of the fact that I seem to be making no progress, I am leaving it where I put it. From now on what happens to me is your business and your responsibility. I have trusted you; I will leave it there, even if I never make any further progress in spiritual things."
A year and a half passed before I noticed any change. I did not know what to expect, whether a great experience or - well, what? I just didn't know. I did have some faint idea that God would make me powerful to sway the people in my preaching. I was willing for it all to be to His credit
and I had no thought of counting on self for anything, but I thought perhaps God had some great work for me to do and might lead me into it in time. I wanted to be used mightily. Speaking modestly, I did not think I was too poorly equipped with abilities as to render me hopeless along this line. I thought of a bigger church, a larger congregation, a more powerful message, and a wider sweep of my ministry as the years came. I hoped for some definite usefulness along this line. But I humbly waited on God and asked Him to choose for me.
An occasional book dropped into my life along the way. These and bits of experiences from others enlightened me and helped me to find my way. One day it began to dawn on me that I was possessed with a sort of ten- derness toward Christ that I had not noticed before, and a burden for lost people began to increase. Also a patience with God's children who sin and err along the way of life. The pastoral heart began to grow in me. It was not the earthquake, nor the whirlwind, nor the fire. It was just the still, small voice. I cannot explain it other than to say there came a settling of life, a deeper flow, a peace that God had things in His own hand and that He would do what He wished with His own.
Then one day there dropped into my reading a little tract. It was small and almost unworldly. I shall quote it here, though I am sure many have read it. It had a tremendous meaning to my life. The title of it is,
"Others May, You Cannot."
It says:"If God has called you to be really like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put on you such demands of obedience, that He will not allow you to follow other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.I have never known the author of this, and I think it has been published by different publishers, but it has been in my files for several years, and has helped me in many dark hours. Be assured, dear reader, "It is not as though I had already attained, either were already mature; but I follow after." I have not the slightest idea that God would ever include me in this select group, but the content of that little tract has helped me to trust when I could not understand.
"Others can brag on themselves, and their work, on their success, on their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.
"Others will be allowed to succeed in making money, but it is likely God will keep you poor because He wants you to have something far better than gold, and that is a helpless dependence on Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.
"The Lord will let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hid away in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for His glory, which can be produced only in the shade.
"God will let others be great, but will keep you small. ... He will let others do a work for Him, and get credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work you have done, and this will make your reward ten times greater when He comes. The Holy Spirit will put strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seemed distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and He will not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you. He will wrap you up in jealous love, and let other people say and do many things that you cannot do or say. Settle it forever, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that others are not dealt with. Now, when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven." - (Selected) - [By G. D. Watson (1845-1924)]
I have said in the earlier pages of this book that when a Christian makes a real surrender - is, when he crosses Jordan - he is in the land of the giants. Instead of expecting ease and comfort now he must expect war. He is no longer a babe in Christ, but a soldier of the Cross. He will find that "this vile world" is not "a friend to grace, to help help on to God." He is now in the land where the battle is against "spiritual wickedness in high places" and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual. It is the "good fight of faith" and we are to have our faith tested at every round. It is a walk now from one situation to another, with opposition at every turn. Lion's dens and fiery furnaces and Goliaths will be ever in our pathway. Carnal weapons can never oppose them; it is a fight of faith
Somewhere vaguely I had preached this truth. Maybe I had picked it up from reading, or, it might have been so plainly written in the Bible that I could not help but find it there, even though it did not occur to me out of experience. Anyway it lingered vaguely in my memory. But I had no idea how fierce the reality could be in experience. And that brings me to a pause - a sacred pause - where twelve years of memory begin to roll before me. Tbose who know my life will understand if I do not give the details. Others will wonder. But still, it is not different from many another. Perhaps a little difference in the way we have dealt with it all, but everybody has trouble. The only question is its purpose in our lives and what we do with it.
When God takes over the life of His child, as I have indicated here, He often takes that child down into a dark cavern where diamonds lie; or out into a lonely wilderness where all is quiet but the voice of God. He does not do His best artistry before a world that will not understand. He has business with His child which must be done in the inner sanctum, and the details of His artistry are not seen - only the finished canvas. For this reason I cannot discuss further the experiences of my life. They do not amount to much, in the first place, and whatever they mean to God and to me, I cannot presume to think they would be important to the world. A little later I will give a few conclusions about it all.
[Buell H. Kazee, Faith is the Victory, 1951. Used with the permission of Philip R. Kazee. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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