The word surrender is taken to mean "to accept defeat," and it can be confusing for believers to see how we win when we surrender. The Bible makes it clear that losing for the sake of Christ is winning, but it can be hard to accept this paradox. How does losing equate to winning?
Matthew 10:38-39 tells us, "And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." To follow Christ and take up our purpose will mean failure on our end for two reasons- because we will probably fail a few times along the way, and because to win in the long haul will mean having to admit weakness and imminent defeat if we are left to our own strength.
That's right. If you want to follow Jesus and fulfill His purposes for our lives, we are going to have to lose. Not necessarily lose the battle that is life, but to lose to ourselves because we can never win. When left to ourselves we will never amount to anything meaningful and we will never find true freedom, joy, satisfaction and meaning.
In John 15, Jesus likens himself to a vine and us His branches. Apart from Jesus, no one has the ability to produce true and lasting fruit. That is why as his branches we are to rely on His ability, His power, His productivity and never on ours. That is the essence of true surrender: faith and trust in a God who's ability and power has been tested and proven over and over again.
Surrender entails submitting to the lordship of Jesus over our lives. The Biblical emphasis has long been on God's lordship as Jesus was referred to as Lord 616 times in the whole New Testament. If Jesus is not Lord of all then He is not Lord at all. That is why it is important to completely surrender every area of our life to Jesus.
So if surrender means submitting one's life to Jesus, does that mean we should be perfect right away? Absolutely not. Colossians 2:6 tells us "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him." Lordship and surrender is both a one-time decision and a progressive process of reconciliation. We make an initial decision to follow Jesus, and then we live it out as we are progressively transformed into Christ-likeness.
Surrender, at the end, is about turning to Christ and trusting in His power to progressively transform us and fulfill his purposes through us as we trust and obey His Word. It calls us to lose to our limited and potentially doomed selves and turning to the God who never fails.