I think of submission. I think of resigning. I think of giving up.
When people are struggling, Christians really like to quote Exodus 14:14, when the Israelites are freaking out and Moses says, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Basically: Quit trying and let God take care of it!
What Christians don't usually quote is the next verse, when God responds, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!" Basically: Um, hey Lazy Bones, I can't part the Red Sea if y'all aren't walking through it.
Because here's what I'm learning about surrender: it has nothing to do with giving up. Submission does not mean having no will, no ideas, no desires of your own. But surrender has everything to do with humility, and fear of the Lord above all other fears, and desire for His will above your own.
Abraham was completely surrendered to God while arguing that He wouldn't destroy Sodom (Genesis 18); David was completely surrendered to God while begging that his son wouldn't die (2 Samuel 12); and Jesus was completely surrendered to God while pleading that He wouldn't have to suffer (Matthew 26).
'Cause you know how you can tell someone's surrendered? It's not that they don't want anything, don't fight for anything, and don't strive to accomplish anything. It's when what they want, what they're striving for, and what they're fighting for doesn't pan out, and they accept it, trust the Lord, believe that He is good and better than what they're asking for, and move on.
Jesus ended each of His pleas for a way out with the words, "But I want your will to be done, not mine."
When David's son died despite his fasting and weeping and begging, he got up, took a shower, went into a worship service to worship God, then went home and ate dinner.
And I think the reason God let Abraham argue with Him in the first place was because He knew that Abraham respected and feared the Lord even in the midst of arguing with Him.
Surrender doesn't mean not trying or asking for things. It means humbly trying and asking for things. It means having the right perspective of who you are & what part you play in the grand story that is God's (not yours). It means praising God whether or not things turn out the way you want them to, because you know it's not about you anyway, and that even while it's not about you, God still values you and wants to give you the best. What better God to be surrendered to?
I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above. - Philippians 3:12-14 NCV