Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Surrender All

Or do I?

Do I really?

"All to Jesus I surrender..."

Can I honestly type, sing and say those words and mean them?

I recently had a great conversation with a friend who is very picky about the worship songs he will and won't sing. And it doesn't have anything to do with rhythm, tempo or key. It's not about style or syncopation. It's about the lyrics. Very simply, he won't sing anything he doesn't mean. I like that. I like that he's discerning; that he's listening. All too often in our churches, we sing whatever words are projected onto the screen. We don't think about the meaning of what we're singing...if it means anything at all. In other words, we don't think about what we're saying. He does. And I admire a man who thinks; a man with integrity, even to the point of not singing the lyric to a song that he doesn't / can't mean.

I've always taken issue with songs that describe things that aren't true.

Here's an example:
"Oh I feel like dancing. It's foolishness, I know, but when the world has seen the light, they will dance for joy like we're dancing now. I could sing of your love forever."
Now, I've been in the proverbial pew as this song has been sung more times than I can count, and the amount of times I've felt like dancing as we sang that has been exponentially small. In addition, I don't think I've ever been in a setting where anyone was actually dancing, while singing the phrase "like we're dancing now." This inconsistency eventually made me so uncomfortable that while everyone else sang the given lyrics, I said "they will dance with joy, like my heart is dancing now." See what I did there? Yeah. Lyrical genius.

I try to let the hyperbole slide, because were it physically possible, there have been times that I've felt I could have sung of His love forever.

For my friend, I Surrender All is another one of those songs. He can't sing it and mean it, so he won't sing it.
Do you know the song?
"All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender. I surrender all."
It's a beautiful song, melodious and rich. However, my friend contends that he, in fact few (if not none) of us, can truly say those words and mean them. We withhold things from Jesus. We don't give him our all, and often what we do give, we give reluctantly. We don't surrender to Him...not completely. We build our own little kingdoms, attempt to wrench control from his grasp, build walls of security and selfishness...not surrender.

But I think that is exactly why we need to be singing that song in our churches. We need the truth and high reaching aim of this song. We need to hear and yes, even sing the challenge to surrender our all to Jesus.  However, the people need to know. They need to see. They must be taught. And this is the job of the worship leader. He / she is not just a musician, or a song leader. They should be a theologian, a teacher, a bringer of God's word just as much as any preacher.

It should be communicated that - yes, you may leave this place and gorge yourself on an extravagant lunch.  You may lie to your boss, get pissy with your children or pass the homeless on the street with little more than disdain in your heart.  You will fail to surrender to Jesus many times from this day forth, but being a Christian is ever so much more than a solitary one-time commitment. The Apostle Paul declared "I die daily." Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple, must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me."  We need to declare, need to sing, we must commit daily, hourly, even now that  -  

All to Jesus I surrender.

I surrender all.

Linked up here.

1 comment:

The Traveling J said...

When I lead music at school or church, a lot of times I encourage everyone to not just sing the words on the screen, but to think about what they're singing, and to make that song their prayer.

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