There was a brave man who saved another from drowning. When asked what he could do to repay him and show his great appreciation, the brave man thanked him and asked, "What do you own?"
He replied, "Well, I have a few wet dollars in my wallet and a couple of credit cards. I'd like to take you to lunch and meet my family."
"Thank you, what else do you have?" said the brave man.
The saved man stumbled a bit and said, "I have a car that I used to drive here, and I own a house... And a checking account and a retirement fund."
The brave man said, "Wonderful! Those things I can use, too. Do you think that is too much to pay for saving your life? What else do you have?"
The bewildered man reluctantly responded, "Nothing else but time. You probably wouldn't be interested, but I am married and I have two children."
"Good! I will take all those as well," he said as he smiled and started to walk away. Then he stopped, turned and faced the man he saved, "I don't need those possessions at the moment. But should there come a time when I do, I will let you know. Until then, take care of these precious things for me."
Surrendering oneself first requires a willingness to give up one's life, the specifics of which are individualistic. Second, it is giving up all control to God. This includes losing our ego, our sinful self, our choices, our possessions, our freedoms, our rights, and our constructed lives to Him (we keep our personality).
Surrender is all or nothing. It requires everything we are and everything we own, now and in the future. Everything in our own personal world is His, no exceptions. In a moment in time we commit our lives and possessions into His care and for His use. Such is the case of salvation which comes in a moment in time. Yet, like salvation, surrender is also a recurring event where we "die daily," as Paul eloquently and simply stated. In so doing, we wonderfully and surprising discover we have a richer and more meaningful life, free from the cares of this world.
Christian researcher, George Barna, found there are ten stops on a person's spiritual journey or on the way to spiritual maturity--ignorance of sin, awareness but indifference to sin, concerned about the potential effects of sin, accepting Christ, increased religious activity, holy discontent (15-30 years after becoming a Christian and 9 of 10 people don't get here), brokenness (many drop out of church and most who get to this stage run from the brokenness), capable of deep surrender and submission, profound connection (loved-based) with God, and extreme love for people. (To me, those who are significantly impacted by a salvation experience may have very strong feelings about and believe they have reached the pinnacle of being surrendered and submitted, connected to God and loving others. But it appears there are degrees of surrender, etc., much like faith. It can be potent and a strong feeling-based experience, but may lack deep roots that hold up under stress and temptation.)
To achieve the depth of true surrender there are sins and mental health issues that must be overcome. Sins and/or problems related to perfectionism, distrust, lack of faith, obsessions, compulsions, personality disorders, and overwhelming anxiety and depression, among others, severely limit one's ability to move on to the latter stages of spiritual maturity. For example, surrendering one's life requires awareness and possession of a life; that is, we must know what we want, think and feel. To say it differently, we must have a self that can be broken and surrendered. Those who are people pleasers, caretakers and think almost exclusively about what others want, think and feel, to the near exclusive of self, are often void of a real self to surrender. If the self is absent, it must first be developed before it can be properly surrendered. There is no successful bypassing this necessary developmental task, if one wants to be totally surrendered and submitted, profoundly connected and loving in a way that is extreme or radical. On the other hand, those who do have a strong sense of self will find they become more aware of hidden parts of themselves and recognize the ongoing changes that occur in the self over time, all of which must be surrendered piece by piece throughout life.
Where could you begin? Perhaps asking and honestly answering the question, "Giving up what would cause me to feel uncomfortable, edgy, anxious, sad, insecure, angry, vulnerable, etc.? Much like the rich, young ruler experienced when Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor (Matthew 19:16-22). That was not a requirement for salvation, but the discriminating task highlighted his unwillingness to surrender everything to God.