November Postings (scroll down)
I Surrender
A Person of Compassion
Impossible Challenges?
Retirement Thus Far
A Moral Question Triggered By A Simple Sign

I  Surrender

The words “I surrender” are not generally seen in a positive light.  We think of surrendering as a negative.   Images of defeat  come to mind when we consider what it means to surrender.    We think that to surrender is to be disempowered and dehumanized.  I think there is another side to what it means to surrender that is not negative, not about defeat and not about being dehumanized.    In fact, next Tuesday if all goes as planned, I will surrender,  and I expect it will be a very positive thing!

Over five years ago, I had a total right shoulder joint replacement.   Almost three years ago, I had a total left shoulder joint replacement.   The official medical terminology is shoulder arthroplasty surgery.  I was doing great, and my shoulders felt fantastic until last Palm Sunday, March 31st.  I slipped on the ice and fell very hard on my right shoulder and incurred an injury.  Over the last six months, we have waited to see if the injury would heal, but to no avail.  The problem is the surgeon is not exactly sure what is wrong.  Normal diagnostic procedures cannot determine the problem.  There is too much metal in there for an MRI and CT scans are often inconclusive in this kind of situation.   All I know is that there is pain, weakness, limited use and it makes all kinds of weird clunks and clicks.

So, next Tuesday the surgeon will begin with an arthroscopic procedure to see what is wrong.  If it can be repaired that way, that would be the best case scenario.   However, it could be far more complicated and even involve replacing the entire joint again.  That is the other extreme.

My point in all of this is that on Tuesday morning I will surrender to my surgeon and his team.  For however long  the surgery takes, I will be rendered out of control and my shoulder, and even life, will be in the total care of others.  That is a little scary, for sure!   But the surgeon, medical staff and hospital are fantastic!   I know because I have had over a dozen orthopedic surgeries in this hospital.  I trust my surgeon because he is considered one of the best and has performed surgery on me before.  I trust he is adept in the medical ways that will lead to healing and wholeness.

Are their risks that come with surrendering?  For sure!  But the promise in all of this is that even though I will surrender to the surgeon and his team, it is not a surrender that leads to defeat that will leave me disempowered.   It is a surrender that, I trust, will lead to a fuller life with restored use of my arm – a new empowerment.

For me, this a profound analogy of what it means to follow Jesus – to trust Jesus.  When Jesus issued the invitation and challenge, “follow me,” to his disciples, this is the kind of trust he was calling forth from each of them.    Following Jesus begins with surrender.  It is to surrender your world-view, your ego, your way of doing, thinking and being for another way – the way of Jesus.

The way I look at things, Jesus was the most fully human person that ever lived.  Many people got swept up in the energy of his humanity because they had never experienced anything like it in anyone before.   The only language they had to describe what they experienced in him was divine language.   I think what they meant by calling him divine was that his very human life was shaped by the most profound and extraordinary love they had ever seen.   It wasn’t just any kind of love, but a love that breached all the boundaries that had been established and enforced by religion, culture, tribal attitudes, politics, power and prejudice – all reinforced by fear.   In the end, his kind of love got him crucified, but the resurrection means that his way and life are not dead, but are the most authentic.  We can still follow him, and he can live his life through us.

It begins anew every day with a surrendering.  Are there risks?  For sure.  Is it a little frightening?  No doubt.  But we are called to trust that surrendering will yield a new empowerment – a new way of thinking, doing and being grounded in all the expressions of love that characterized Jesus’ life.   To surrender is to trust that Jesus is adept in the ways that lead to healing, wholeness of life and a fuller humanity.

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