What does real surrender look like? Surrender doesn’t mean laying down or throwing up your arms in defeat. Surrendering means wrestling.
God had spoken to Jacob through a dream and told him it was time to go back home and become the man God had purposed him to be. But going home meant facing his brother, whom he had run from and who vowed to kill him, leaving Jacob in the middle of two undesirable scenarios. He was currently mistreated by his trickster uncle Laban who’d deceived him into marrying off his oldest daughter, stole his livelihood by changing his pay ten times, and accused him of theft. All the while, Jacob had caused Laban to prosper greatly. Neither staying nor going was promising, yet God had spoken, and it was time to go.
The original trickster had no more moves. When Jacob realized he had no way to save himself, he prayed this prayer of surrender in Genesis 32:9-12 (NLT). 9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’ 10 I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! 11 O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 12 But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count.'”
In this prayer, Jacob faces who he was. He had done nothing to deserve God’s love or kindness and was asking for God’s help. After this prayer and by faith, Jacob sent his family and all he owned ahead and was left alone. We want to think that at this time, God would swoop down and encourage Jacob, give him a pep talk, and assure him that everything would all be alright, but that is not what happened. Instead, a fight ensued.
A “man” came and wrestled with Jacob. Wait. What? Why would God come and fight with Jacob when he was trying to obey? He was already terrified? Because God knew what Jacob did not. For Jacob to go home and face Esau and inherit the promise God made him, he would need to do it as Israel and not Jacob. Verse 28 (NLT) says, 28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on, you will be called Israel because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” The KJV says, “prevailed.” He needed to go back as a victor.
Surrender means we must now contend for the promise God has made us. We realize that on our own, we can do nothing. Left to our own devices and old natures, we will fail. God wants to give us every promise we are believing for, but that means becoming God’s man or woman. He never blesses flesh. What’s born of the flesh is flesh. Jacob’s conniving to receive blessing only birthed Laban’s false blessing in his life. Real blessing, the blessing that was spoken over Jacob before his birth, was that of the Spirit. We wrestle with God over it. We contend and don’t turn loose of it until we get it!
That wrestling match is for your growth. God is not intimidated by you wanting to wrestle it out with Him. He intentionally initiates it. The result will be a change in your walk that’s permanent. No longer will you lean on your own strength but on the surety of God’s word. You will have prevailed. You will walk into situations knowing you are already the victor. Like Jacob, you can advance and face your fear because your identity is no longer that of the guilty or undeserved. Your name has been changed, you’ve received the blessing, and only promise lies ahead.
Don’t lay down and quit. Surrender, and get in the ring. And don’t turn loose until you get what God’s promised.