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Suspenseful Surrender

Suspenseful Surrender

Surrender. The word frequents worship songs and small-group circles alike. Lyrics like “sweetly broken, wholly surrendered” and stage cries of “I invite you to surrender your life to Jesus today” often fly in and out of our ears without passing through our heads.

Christian culture often plucks passionate-sounding words and drops them into church lingo to freshen up communication, but what good is it to use a word if we don’t understand what it means?

In my own life, I discovered a definition. It didn’t come from a song or a sermon or a conversation. It came from suffering.

I have often documented my injury problems on Everyday Exiles. Maybe some of you are sick of reading it. I’m often sick of experiencing it. But it is my reality. And I learn about God, about the Kingdom, and about myself from this place.

I do not know if I will ever play the game I love again. I will likely miss the rest of the season after playing one and a half game with my team here. I am not sure if a new team will take a chance on me in 2019 after my last two injury-riddled years spent in the training room or on the operating table or in the gym doing rehabilitation.

So, naturally, I wonder what to do with my life. I think on these things often. I know I have a desire to continue to play. I know I have a desire to coach one day. But I find that my circumstances do not align with my desires for my life.

Of course, I am tempted to try to do something to get myself out of the pits I often find myself in. I want to apply for a coaching job or text a coach or go see as many physiotherapists as I can to try to fix myself and improve my situation and accomplish my dreams. These things all shout “FEAR!” It is true, some days I am afraid, but this past week, I finally said with David, “when I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3). Fear comes before trust. Trust comes before surrender. Surrender comes before your desires align with the will of God.

If I will trust in God, I must have reason to do so. And David gives us the reason – “what can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:4). Nothing will happen to us apart from the will of God. This is the comfort in the darkest night.

And so, as I find myself there, I find the true meaning of surrender. I considered everything, and found myself weak and powerless. I do not know his will. I do not know the future. I rarely discern my own desires. But he knows and sees it all. He planned it from beginning to end. So I will wait for him to show me. I will surrender and submit myself to his will, and no longer will I sail against his Wind. I will wait for him to guide me from harbor into the sea and on the way to my next destination. In time, he will show me what will become of me. I will improve in health or not, according to his desire. There will be opportunity for me to play, or coach, or do something else. But it is not for me to say, he alone knows.

Perhaps I will play again. Perhaps it would please him that I stay here in Sweden to continue. I do not know, but I give myself up. I lay down in surrender. It feels dangerous, but it is the safest and most secure place to be.

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Jared Odenbeck

Jared Odenbeck is a professional soccer player from Charlotte, NC. Jared graduated from Wake Forest University in December 2016 with a degree in English and Journalism. His greatest desire for his writing is that it would awaken the western Church to pure Gospel-centered truth and recapture the essence of unadultered Christianity.

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