Surrender is hard, but sometimes necessary. To surrender is “cease resistance” or “abandon ones self entirely.” The world talks about surrender, but generally as an emotional bastion. While that is likewise true in the Church, it is so much more. For the warrior surrender is often the last resort. A way to wager for ones life, or the lives of those whom they lead and mentor. When one surrenders they often end up facedown with their hand bound behind their back, or kneeling with their hands on their head. The soldier also has to option to refuse to surrender and perhaps still survive.
This is not true of the Christian Warrior. Something that is difficult to remember sometimes. While it is natural to desire to lead upright and with the appearance of strength, this position is often perilous for the believer. Especially those that are leading the fight.
In this current time, there are so many things that attempt to overwhelm us. It is tempting to project strength of self. This leads to pride, here I will take a little piece of one of my favorite stories and adapt it to what I mean, in Frank Herbert’s Dune, there is a Litany of Fear, I will paraphrase it in to one about pride:
I must not be proud. Pride is the soul-killer. Pride is the little-death that brings total separation. I will face my pride. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And while it is passing I will turn to listen to God and see His will. When pride is gone, there will be nothing. Only God will remain.
Litany against Pride (paraphrase of Bene Geserit “Litany against Fear”)
As some of you know I serve at a church and while I don’t have a lot of responsibilities, that is growing. Today on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, I found myself at the altar. This is not a totally unfamiliar place, but a very uncomfortable one. Lights, sounds, a guitar in my somewhat capable hands on a church stage, is a battle I am eager to fight. Ask me to solo, I got that. Ask me to sing, I can probably do that too. However ask me to pray blessing on the body, or honestly participate in the sacred rite of baptism for my children and I am more than a little petrified. In my head I hear that voice, “what if you aren’t good enough, what if you mess it up?” Like the children who visited Narnia, and became much more in that world than they are in all because of a Lion that guided them. I, you, we have Lion that protects us and guides us, and a Lamb that brought us Atonement.
I am also blessed to have a Bear. This Bear is one of the strongest creatures I know, and while physically strong, it is his belief in me and through me that I find the most astounding. He picks me up when I broken. He feeds me physically and spiritually. Through the story that we have lived and that we are now living together, i am finding strengths that I didn’t know I had, but only through surrender to self and to service.
I am learning that a beautiful vessel and a broken one, are sometimes the same. In fact, often both seem to be useless. A repaired vessel has a story, it doesn’t just sit on a shelf and is perhaps better for having been broken and repaired. I am reminded of Japanese practice, kintsukuroi, which illustrates this:
When the pieces are rejoined with with gold, the vessel becomes more beautiful, more complex, and more valuable. This is true of life in Christ. The broken believer is filled with the preciousness of the blood of Christ, and through that union is made invaluable to Heaven. Unconditional surrender may save the warrior’s life on the battlefield, but it will certainly save and strengthen the Christian Warrior.
Until next time. Fight the Good Fight…. Fairly