“We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can,
Namely, surrender our will and fulfill God’s will in us.” Teresa of Avila
I like control. The comfort of knowing what is happening and what to expect. The power to do what I need to do, on my self-created timetable, and in my own way.
Yet living out of my ego and self desires does not satisfy the emptiness in my heart. This God-created void nudges me to once again acknowledge my way isn’t the best way. God calls us to live differently – to surrender our wills to Him and to relinquish the control, power and expectations we cling to so tightly.
To be honest I sing the hymn “I Surrender All” with my fingers crossed. Maybe God won’t hear me that day and I can still stay in charge a little longer. Perhaps I can fool Him, hide from him like Adam and Eve did when they too sought power for themselves instead of seeking God, the all powerful. We live this life backwards with eyes focused on ourselves, not on God.
The writer of the words of the hymn, “I Surrender All” is Judson W. Van De Venter. He attended college in Hillsdale Michigan the county just north of me. He was a teacher but struggled to live as God called him: as an artist and an evangelist. Even his friends urged him to use his strengths for God, but he denied it and stay in his safe profession for many years.
One pivotal day while praying on his knees,he said, “Lord if you want me to give my full time to your work I will do it, I surrender all to Thee.” Later he wrote the words of this beautiful hymn, remembering the exact moment he gave his entire will to God.
The words “I Surrender All” marks his tombstone – what a legacy.
Enjoy one version by Brian Littrell from You-tube of “I Surrender All”:
“All to Jesus, I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him’In His presence daily live”
This is my prayer.
I am so with you on this, Jeanie. Surrender is the hardest thing to do. And when I do it, I find myself taking back my surrender 10 minutes later!
I love this! I like to hold onto some control myself. Surrendering my will is so hard! But this song and this post reminds me of the graces we receive when we trust and surrender all. Thanks. God bless.
Jean Wise says
I love learning hymn stories. You are so right – adds to the depth of the words
I didn’t know the background to that either. There’s always a story. Thanks.
Johnnie Alexander Donley says
Thanks for sharing the story behind the hymn. I’ll never sing that song again with thinking of its author — and its Author*