By Manuel Rodriguez II
(Based on the sermon by Rev. Jeffrey Gatdula delivered on April 9, 2011 at Forest Life Resort, Silang Cavite on the occasion of the retreat for the young adults of UCCP-Cosmopolitan Church with the theme “I Retreat, I Surrender.”)
What is “retreat”? The dictionary gives us clear meanings of the term. The word retreat means –to move back or to withdraw. Another definition is to withdraw to a quiet or secluded place or to change one’s decision, plans or attitude.
What is “surrender”? We know that in this life “surrender” is something difficult to live at. It is defined as -- to cease resistance or to abandon oneself entirely to a powerful emotion or influence.
The word “surrender” traces its root from Anglo-Norman. It is a combination of two words namely “sur” and “render.”
“Sur” means superior or excellent, it is where we get the English term “super” which means the same thing. “Render” simply means to give. Ergo “sur-render” literally means super-giving or excellently submitting.
The question now is…are we really “super-giving” as far as the Lord is concerned?
The central to the word “surrender” is our “will.”
Our “will” is a deliberate or fixed desire or intention. It is fixed. It is etched in stone and indelibly written. By analogy in the legal parlance “the last will” of the deceased as a rule cannot be modified.
As we recall in the life of Jesus, he mentioned the phrase “thy Kingdom come, thy WILL be done…” Hence, we can conclude that the Kingdom is the “will” of the Father. Where the “will” of the Father is happening, the Kingdom is present thereat.
God wants us to live “His will” for us instead of “our will” for ourselves. God wants us to experience “His Kingdom.”
In John 18:36 Jesus mentioned that the Kingdom is not of this world. When “God’s will” come upon us…everything changes…even the fixed ones.
Because his Kingdom…A.K.A. “His will” is more supreme. There is always fear when we are not submitting to the will of the Father.
Hebrews 9:16-17 says “in the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.”
The verse talks of “the last will.” Nowadays, we need not be legal experts to know that such document has no effect when the testator is still alive, thanks to telenovelas of primetime TV.
“The last will” is similar to the will of the Father; it cannot materialize unless we die.
What kind of death does it talk about? Definitely, not on its literal sense. In Galatians 2:20 the Apostle Paul said “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” It means dying to self, making old selves 'dead'…and letting God take over, and live in us.
“Surrender” means death. And I must admit that it is not easy. This is the struggle that we face every single day. But we Christians should fret not, for we do not struggle in vain for the Holy Spirit will surely help us.
“Teach me to die to myself every day of my life” must be a part of our daily prayer because unless we die, “God’s will” shall not live.
Losing our lives for him is gaining everything.
Are we ready to lose our lives and give up our desires?
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.