A few years ago, I was physically training a Navy SEAL in preparation for his upcoming deployment. The exercise he was performing that day was the back squat; a full-body exercise, and one of the best ways to develop strength and power in the trunk, hips, and legs.
To perform a squat, the athlete begins in a standing position with a barbell resting on his shoulders. The athlete lowers his body in a squatting motion by bending his hips and knees until the knee joint is even or lower than the hip joint. From there, the athlete drives the weight back up into a standing position.
When I coach someone, I always explain the reason for the exercise, the training effect they will develop, and how that can be used during competition or combat. In this case, I explained to the SEAL that when he is performing the “sitting down” phase of the squat, he is essentially yielding to the force that’s pushing down on him from the weight of the barbell. When he stands up, he must overcome the weight pushing down on his shoulders in order to complete the repetition. In short, the athlete must yield to the resistance first before he can overcome the resistance. I then explained some of the reasons why he would need this type of movement during combat operations.
The SEAL became really quiet as he pondered what I had said. Then he responded, “I’m sorry, but I don’t yield to anything.”
I could tell he was mostly kidding, but there was also quite a bit of seriousness to his statement. He truly didn’t like the thought of yielding to anything. I even sensed a spirit of fear in him as he thought about the concept of yielding. He didn’t like the version of himself where he would be surrendering to any challenge that would come into his life.
I get it—guys like this aren’t prone to surrendering to any type of challenge that comes their way. You don’t become a SEAL by giving up when times get hard. In fact, the whole selection process they undergo to become one of America’s elite warriors requires them to prove they can overcome challenges that would crush most of us. Surrender doesn’t get you to where you want to go if you’re trying to be the best you can be.
But is that always true?
Our Savior, Jesus Christ, understood the incredible power and strength in surrender—not to human power and authority, but to His Father and the mission assigned to Him. On the night of His betrayal, which would ultimately lead to His terribly painful death, we see the awful spirit of fear working hard to overcome Him and keep Him from fulfilling His mission. He knew that He would soon be enduring the physical, psychological, and spiritual pain that we humans brought into the world when we broke our sacred bond with the Father through sin. He knew that He was getting ready to endure the most painful experience known to man and yet, He would ultimately show amazing strength through surrender.
We see His struggle for courage in Matthew 26:38-39:
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus, the most elite of all men, the man who did actually save the world, did something that made this SEAL and many other self-reliant tough guys like you and me uncomfortable. He surrendered! He yielded to the will of His Father.
Have you ever thought about the incredible power that the Son of God had at His fingertips? Jesus hung on a cross in incredible pain. He was betrayed, beaten, humiliated, and literally torn to pieces, and all He had to do to end this was to command His army of angels to come down and wipe us all out. But He didn’t. He knew that surrender was the only way to complete the mission that would change the world and bring true life and freedom that can only be found in Him.
The SEAL I was training was preparing to go and face some of the worst that humanity can dish out. I don’t blame him for not liking the idea of surrender—in certain situations it could mean his destruction. On the other hand, Jesus knew that surrender to the Father—even if it meant passing through suffering and death—would ultimately lead to life.
What about you? Where in your life do you need to surrender to the Father?
Perhaps there is something you know you need to do that is difficult—a tough situation with a colleague, wife, or kids—but you’ve been avoiding it or trying to maneuver around it. Just like squatting with a barbell, you need to lean into that difficulty in order to push through it.
Or maybe you’ve been holding to a course that seemed right at first, but it’s becoming clear that it’s just not working, and you haven’t been willing to adjust because you don’t want to look weak or admit that you were wrong. In your heart of hearts, you feel the Holy Spirit convicting you that you’re not showing grit and determination—you’re just being stubborn.
Whatever the situation, you can be sure that surrendering to the Father is the key to getting where you want to go—just as it was for Jesus.
If you have never surrendered to Christ, then I humbly suggest that it’s time to take a knee and ask Jesus into your heart. Allow Him to give you the life that He aches to give you. There is incredible power and strength in yielding to Him, in dying to the old life you lived without Him and receiving the new life He wants to give you. No matter what you’ve done, He will accept you. But first you must surrender, and that takes stepping away from your shame and allowing yourself to be vulnerable with Him. He already knows you better than you know yourself. Just lay your shame at His feet. With Him, there is no shame.