February / March 2019 - Vol. 102

Surrendering Your Whole Life to Christ
by Kim Smith

Ruth, a woman who was an ancestor of the Lord Jesus, the great-grandmother of King David, had given up everything. As a young girl she expected to follow in her mother’s footsteps, to be married and raise her children in the land of her ancestors. Instead she married the son of a widow, a family from another country, where there was much famine. She grew to love this whole family as her own. They treated her with honor and respect. They told her about their life in Bethlehem, their God, and their traditions. After many years of joy, both sons of this widow died. Now this young woman is a widow herself. Her mother-in-law has made plans to return to Bethlehem and urges the young widow to return to her own family, she is still young and can marry again. But God has been at work in this young woman’s heart!  She gives up everything to go with her mother-in-law, and God provided!  Her new husband was Boaz. Their son was Obed, the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of David, who became the anointed king of Israel. 

Jesus surendered his life
Jesus, the promised heir who established David’s throne forever, shows us how we can share in the inheritance of his kingdom. In John 12:24-26 Jesus states:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. 
In this passage Jesus is talking about his own impending death on the cross for our salvation. He surrendered his whole life – including the decision to go to the cross – to the will of the Father. His example shows us the way he wants us to serve him and reign with him. 

Meaning of surrender
What does it mean to surrender my whole life to Jesus? I want to offer a brief reflection on the key words in this beautiful expression. 

Surrender means the yielding of one’s person, rights, and possessions to another. Person involves more than just one’s physical body.  It includes one’s heart, mind, spirit,  emotions, thoughts, talents, and gifts. Yield means to give way before a force or power that one can no longer resist. If someone placed a bowl of chocolate candy in front of me, I would have to make a choice. I couldn’t just ignore it or wish it would go away. I would have to take action and make a decision, a choice – whether to eat it or put it away.

When I talk about my life, I’m talking about something that I possess. It belongs to me. To surrender my whole life to the Lord is a decision that only I can make. No one else can make that decision for me. Many Christians have made a concrete decision to open their hearts to Jesus and to say “yes” to his will. Many have opened their lives to receive the gift of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. These are actions and choices one can make to follow the Lord as his disciple. 

The road to holiness
If we are following the Lord Jesus then we are all on the same journey. We’re all on the same road to holiness of life. We’re all aiming for eternal life in heaven with the Lord God Almighty.  But each of us will encounter different challenges and trials along the way.  We each may stumble over different rocks and get stuck in different dead ends. We can encourage each other.  We can walk beside each other. We can hold each other’s hands, but the decision to move forward, be it one step at a time or to run, is ultimately your own decision. 

The life I am offering to Jesus includes the very state of my being alive - breathing, sleeping, waking, every moment from birth to death. Life is an outright gift – from the day I was conceived and came from the womb, up to this very present moment. What I have lived up to this present is now past. I can’t return to the past, but I can choose how I will live my life today, tomorrow, and the next day. And this includes my good and bad days, healthy and sick ones. I believe that regardless of our present circumstances and state of life – whether single, married, widowed, with our without children, young or not so young, tall or short, a long time Christian or a new babe in Christ – the Lord Jesus wants each of us to surrender to him our very lives. Any of us at any moment could find ourselves called by God to “give up everything” just like Ruth did when she was called to leave her home and land to follow the Lord. 

My whole life for Christ
Christ wants my whole life and not just one part, or even most of it. Whole means complete, total, full, all, entire. I have left the word whole for last because I believe that it’s the key to discovering the abundant life and fruitfulness which Christ wants for each of us. I know that Christ wants nothing less than the surrender of my whole life to him. I think that this is often the biggest stumbling block for many disciples who want to follow Jesus. We might be willing to give some parts of our lives to the Lord. But to give all? 

“Lord, I am still young. What will happen if I give all my life to you?” 

“Lord, my life is almost over.  What more do I have to give?” 

“Lord, I already have my life planned out…”

“Oh, that’s right. My life – all of my life – is from you, Lord. You created me – all of me. In fact, you created me in your image and I am a new creation through Jesus.” 

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 the Apostle Paul says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I know from experience that it is easier for me to surrender the big things than the little things. Big ones, yes. I had occasion to surrender into the Lord’s hands my 14-month-old son who was severely burned and hospitalized for 5 days. I had to surrender into the Lord’s hands my husband when he had a heart attack. I surrendered into the Lord’s hands my 22-year-old son when he got in his van and drove some 3,000 miles across the United States. I had no way to contact him. He was gone for 9 months. I surrendered my daughter into the Lord’s hands when she decided to travel on her own to Bolivia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and who knows where else. 

It was easier, somehow, for me to place the really big things into the Lord’s hands because I knew there was nothing I could do to control the circumstances and outcome. But it hasn’t been so easy to let go of the things that I think I can control. I know that worrying accomplishes nothing.  One of my relatives worries for a hobby.  I’ve prayed, “Lord, please don’t let me be a worrier.” But I know that God wants me to hold nothing back from him, not even the things that I think I can control and handle by myself. 

“I can do this. I can take care of that. This is no problem.” Those are the things that I have a hard time giving to the Lord. 

Time and time again the Lord has taught me to surrender to him both the big and all the little things in my life because his grace is sufficient for me.

This article was first published in the November 2010 Issue of Living Bulwark

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him”
 – Lamentations 3:25

Forward: In the autumn of 2009, my mother gave a brief sharing at the Work of Christ Women's Conference about how the Lord had spoken to her through his word in scripture and through the talk she gave a year earlier on “Surrendering your whole life to Christ” during her battle with cancer. 

In March of this year, I watched my mom “remain faithful unto death.” My mom and dad’s faith during her final days taught me more than any talk ever could. Her example and her words below continue to inspire me to surrender my whole life to the Lord and to cling to scripture in every battle that I face. 

- Stacey Smith

A personal sharing given by Kim in the autumn of 2009

About a year ago I went to the hospital for my mammogram. I already knew there was a lump and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had surgery and when I came out of surgery the hospital staff said, “We got it all – no problem.” 

I went back a week later for a checkup and they said “Well, those tests we do are 97% accurate. But you fall in the 3%.”  So now I was bumped into “Stage 2” which meant I needed chemo treatment. I knew then that I needed a verse from scripture for spiritual support.  So I went to the Bible.  And I want you to know that cancer is not in the Bible!  But God said “I have a scripture for you.”  He gave me Lamentations 3: 22-26. 

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed.  For his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself ‘the Lord is my portion.’  Therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” 

All throughout this period, various lines in this verse came to my attention and gave me strength.  I had to spend a lot of time waiting for results between various tests and doctor’s appointments.  The Lord reminded me that he was actively working with me during that time, and what he wanted me to do was patiently wait on him and trust in his work.

When I got the news that I needed chemo, it thought to myself, “Lord, what do I have left to hope in?”  Before surgery I had had hope that maybe things would change. Maybe the Lord would heal me before the surgery.  Maybe it would just be minor surgery, not major.  After surgery the hospital staff said, “Ok, everything’s fine.”  But then a little bit later I got another diagnosis which showed that I needed chemo. Again I had thought to myself, “What do I have to hope in?” And the Lord reminded me again of his word in scripture – “my hope is in him.” I then realized that the Lord was not asking me to put my hope in the things that I wanted to see changed.  The Lord wanted my hope to be in him. 

I had a pack of scripture cards which some people had sent me. I wrote a number of verses out on 3x5 cards. Then I would pray these verses out loud every day during my prayer time. I took the notes from the talk which I gave last year about “surrendering your whole life to Christ” and at the end of my prayer time I wholly surrendered the big things that I could do nothing about to the Lord and the little things that I thought I had control in, but really didn’t.  I surrendered each of them whole-heartedly to the Lord every day.  So I wrote out another 3x5 card: “My hope is in You, Lord God Almighty,” and I said that with my other daily scripture verses. 

These verses from scripture carried me through the whole time of my chemo treatments.  Right now everything is fine, all my tests are fine at least at the moment.  When I first got the diagnosis I said “What can I do? I would like to be doing something.”  The doctor said, “Eat well. Continue to exercise and have a positive outlook.”  I took that positive outlook and I said “That is what I’m going to do.”  I’m not going to get into the negatives.  I’m not even going to say, “Why, God?”  I’m just going to move on and say “Lord, put positive things in my life.” 

Kim and Mark Smith, her husband of 34 years, raised five children. They joined the Work of Christ community in Lansing, Michigan, USA in 1976. Kim served as a senior woman leader in the Work of Christ for many years until she passed away in March, 2010.



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