The Joy in Surrender

Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38, esv).

What do you think of when you hear the word surrender? For me it’s “Come out with your hands up!” Maybe you picture waving a white flag.

But the biggest battle we face is not a military one. The real war goes on inside people where it comes to giving up our will in favor of God’s will. If there’s anything that we can learn from the woman God chose to be Jesus’ mother, it’s certainly in this matter of surrender.

You know the familiar scene from Luke 1:26–38. An angel appeared to Mary and announced God’s incredible plan to her. I think the best verse in that whole passage is Luke 1:38 because it summarizes what God is teaching us through Mary’s life. Her first and only response to the angel was one of surrender. “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.’” That’s a phenomenal thing. It shows a life of complete and utter submission to God.

Mary surrendered to God’s will even though it was difficult. How tempting it could have been for her to focus on the hard thing God was asking her to do. All the false accusations and misunderstandings were just the beginning of the hardship she’d face. But she said, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary, do you understand this? You’re going to have some really dark days. Your heart will break as you watch your Son suffer and die.Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”

Mary surrendered to God’s will even though she didn’t understand. Mary was not 100% sure in that first moment. She had questions and wrestlings. I’m sure she had to pray it through. Scripture says that she kept pondering these things in her heart. What was said to me? What does it mean? What is going to happen?

Mary surrendered to God’s will without knowing all the details. That is my issue right there. If you had been Mary, wouldn’t you have wanted someone to fill in the big picture? Like, “When is He going to know that He is God’s Son?” “How is Joseph going to handle this?” “Is He going to be God’s Son right off the bat?” “What about miracles?” “What’s my role in this going to be?” “Where is all this headed?” I could think of a thousand questions, but here’s the thing: God wouldn’t have told her anyway because she couldn’t have handled it. God doesn’t work like that. God doesn’t say, “Here is everything you’re going to go through for the rest of your life.” God loves us. He would never reveal all of that to us—it would be too hard to take. If you have been saying, “I’m going to surrender to God when I have all of the information,” give it up to God and get in partnership with Him now.

Mary surrendered to God’s will by faith. It always comes back to trusting God and believing that He has your best interest at heart. Like we say around our church, “Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it, no matter how I feel, because God promises a good result.” That’s what Mary did. First, she believed she was who God said she was—highly favored. Mary basically said, “God, I believe You are extending grace to me.” Second, she believed that God would keep His word. She surrendered to God’s will by faith.

What is God asking you to surrender to Him? Maybe you’re faced with that first moment of surrender when you recognize your sinfulness and your need for forgiveness. Have you bowed your knee to Jesus Christ as Lord and embraced Him by faith? Or maybe you’ve come to realize that life consists of many repeated surrenders to God. Maybe you’ve been struggling with Him. Lord, how did I get myself in this spot? Is this where You want me? Let me encourage you to invite the Lord to be specific with you as you wrestle with these questions in prayer.

This life lasts but a moment. God has placed you in your circumstance, and perhaps it’s a very difficult one. This is your opportunity to display the power of life lived in God. Take hold of it. Seize it like Mary did and say from your heart, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”

There is such joy in that surrender. How much heartache, turmoil, and difficulty have come into your life as a result of refusing to embrace what God has allowed? God is a good and loving God and He wants to get glory through your life.

And all of that flows from this matter of surrender. Wave the white flag!


  • What difficult circumstance or task has God charged you with that requires surrender on your part? Are you resisting the challenge or accepting it in faith?
  • What can you learn from Mary’s response of immediate surrender to God’s mission for her?

Lord, what is the area I most need to surrender to You? Please let this concept move from my head to my heart. I belong to You, and my highest priority is living for You. I surrender to Your will for my present and my future. No matter what, I want to say with Mary, “I am a servant of the Lord.” I know Your grace is sufficient to get me through anything You allow to cross my path. I give myself afresh to You, oh God. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.