Chapter 19: Surrender

This is a guest series by Phil Cate. If you missed previous chapters, you can read them all by clicking on ‘Phil Cate’ under the Categories heading in the right panel. Watch for new installments every Friday.

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Chapter 19

John 8:32 (New International Version)
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


       The truth is, I need a Savior; and the truth is, one was sent for me. The truth is that if I’m not the problem, there is no solution. Let me repeat that. If I’m not the problem, there is no solution.

       If I’m not the problem, why would I need a Savior?

       I thought for years that I just needed my circumstances or the people around me to change and then I could finally be OK. Since I had a “circumstance” problem or an “other people” problem, I couldn’t do anything to fix it. It was hopeless.

       On the other hand, if I am the problem and the fact that I am a sinner is the problem, then there is a solution — a Savior. And if I am a hopeless sinner and I need a Savior to rescue me from myself, then the first thing I would need to do is surrender to my Savior.

       For a born rebel, renegade, hard-headed fighter like me, surrender is not a particularly pleasing concept. And so much of what God asks us to do is certainly counterintuitive and often counter to our culture as well. Or maybe as in my case, it’s only when we are left with no choices that we are finally willing to do something different. I surrendered on my knees in jail, when I completely understood that my way had not worked and I was out of options.

       The word salvation is used a lot in Christianity, and it’s a very important word and I don’t want to undermine its meaning. However, I really didn’t understand what it meant, or at least its full implications. Surrender for me is not really a replacement for salvation, it’s an addendum to it that makes it easier for me to understand salvation.

       Surrender should be determined as good or bad depending on who you’re surrendering to. We think of surrender in warring situations where one side has to relinquish control to their enemy. When we as sinners surrender, we’ve been in the clutches of the enemy already; and now we’re surrendering to the good guy, God, who loves us so much and wants so badly for us to have good wholesome lives and work according to His purposes of love.

       Surrender is not a bad thing when it’s surrendering to God; to the contrary, I’ve found it to be the only thing.

       There is no way to break out of an addiction or a sinful habit or a sinful behavioral tendency on our own. If that were possible, we wouldn’t have the societal or personal problems we have. As a matter of fact, if we could really govern our own behavior without God, why would we have any problems or be addicted to anything? That doesn’t even make sense, yet we try to govern our own behavior all the time. We’ve tried to change, and yet we just keep falling back into the same old behavior. We just try harder to govern ourselves and fix things, but let’s face it — we can’t. 

       The only way to break out of the patterns and circumstances that we find ourselves in is to totally surrender to Someone who has the power to save us from those patterns and circumstances.

       Surrending to the Savior should never be mistaken for an event. That’s something us arrogant renegades might be very inclined to do. Let’s surrender, and now that’s behind us and I’ve “surrendered”, I’m good. I would submit that it needs to go like this instead: I have surrendered, and I am surrendering, and I need to surrender. Surrender is a lifelong process, not to be treated as a onetime event, but instead surrender should be a theme in our lives. We will always wrestle with the desire to take back control of our lives, which is what led us to destruction in the first place. Surrender and keep surrendering and keep reminding yourself that, after all, you’re surrendering to the good guy.

       There is an alternative to surrender; I could hold on to my way of doing things. After all, my way had led me down such a tranquil path. All right, stop laughing and keep reading.

       Seriously though, I could keep doing it my way; that’s always an option. But I know from experience now that my way just didn’t work. I was out of options when I hit my knees in jail. My best thinking and intentions had landed me right where I was — addicted, on the cusp of a divorce, broke, and broken. I think maybe it was time to admit my way wasn’t leading me in the right direction.

       Now I want to ask you, are there things in your life that your best thinking cannot help? Are there issues that are getting worse, even with your best-laid plans and intentions? Or are there things you can’t figure out how to fix or control? Are there parts of your life not going the way you want them to, but you just can’t seem to turn them around? Maybe it’s your marriage or your dating life, maybe it’s your career or finances, maybe you’re caught in an addiction, maybe your parent-child relationship is a mess. Maybe it’s a discipline issue or an anxiety or depression issue.

       Now would you be willing to admit that no matter what you’ve tried, it hasn’t worked? I would humbly suggest that surrendering that issue and your life would be the first step to the change you know you need. Just simply admit to God you can’t fix it; and tell Him, as I did, you’ll go wherever He sends you and do whatever He says, that you’re just exasperated with it and your way hasn’t worked.

       Ask Him to intervene and help you. It was the only way out for me.



Next: Humility     


Phil Cate is a resident of the Atlanta, Georgia, metro area and runs a small medical equipment resale business. He is available for speaking engagements and can be reached at or by phone at 678-429-0901

Printed by permission from Phil Cate, Mama told me Jesus saved my soul, but who was gonna save my butt??? Confessions, lessons, and revelations of a born rebel, © 2008.

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