My little dog Coco is a Yorkie mix. I think he is a mix between a poodle and a yorkie. He very much has the personality of a yorkie. He is yappy, getting him to be quite is always a challenge. Over time I have come to understand the different meanings between his barks. When he is hungry he has a certain wine. When we sees a squirrel he wants to run after he has this high pitched squeal. When he does not like a stranger approached, he has a deeper bark/growl. His different barks have different meanings. So true is in our language. Different words have different meanings associated with them. Similarly a person’s understanding of the words you are using are dependent on what they associate with those words.
Recently I have noted two words used frequently within the Christian Faith. It is the words surrender and submission. We often hear or read things talking about surrendering to God. Similarly there is a Christian song I very much enjoy that sings about this very concept, surrender. I have historically not used surrender to describe myself. But I often use the word submission. I have realized that in my mind submission and surrender are used interchangeably. I view them as the same. But if you think about the actual definition and connotation of the words surrender and submission they are not the same. There are similar but different in meaning and connotation. It has made me ponder what the meaning of surrender to God verses submission to God means. Or are they the same?
When I think of the word surrender I think of someone on the battlefield waving the white flag. I think of someone who is losing a battle, hopeless, desperate and chooses to surrender in order for their life and others to be spared. I think of someone who is backed into a corner of an opponent and pleading for mercy in order to live another day. So when someone says they are surrendered to God to me it implies you view God as the opposing side on which you are fighting. To me it means you have recognized that you were fighting against the wrong opponent. To me it means you realize that you need to switch teams. This to me is actually the opposite of how I view submission.
If I was to go back to the battlefield analogy, to me submission is going to the general of the army and saying here I am, I trust your wisdom, I trust your decisions, I am here to do whatever you ask of me. I am yours to direct. I am yours to use. I am yours to serve. And I do it willingly because I trust you and love you. To me submission is the opposite of surrender in many ways. Yet somehow they have become interchangeable in some aspects.
I think it likely that many people use the words submission and surrender interchangeably. I recognize what people mean when they say a word may not be the same as how I interpret the word. This problem is something we face often as humans. Just like I have had to learn what my dog Coco means with his different barks, we as human often may need to clarify what someone means by certain words they are using. Otherwise we may be thinking the same thing but misunderstanding each other completely. Communication takes time and work but one way we can better love someone is to work to understand them better.
“And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:35-36