How do we know what will be on the morrow? It has grown into a proverb that we ought to expect the unexpected; for often the very thing happens which we thought would not happen (cf. Luke 21:34; 1 Thes 5:2-4; 2 Peter 3:10). How can we reckon upon anything in a world like this, where nothing is certain but uncertainty? Besides, the folly is seen in the fact of the frailty of our lives, and the brevity of them. Why, then, is it that we are always counting upon what we are going to do? Why do we choose to build upon clouds, and pile our palaces on vapour, to see them melt away, as aforetime they have often melted, instead of by faith getting where there is no failure, where God is all in all, and His sure promises make the foundations of eternal mansions (cf. James 4:13-17)?
Only God knows the future. All things are present to Him—there is no past and no future to His all-seeing eyes. He dwells in the present tense forevermore as the great I AM. He knows what will be on the morrow and He, alone knows! The whole course of the universe lies before Him, like an open map (cf. Psalm 147:4-5). Men do not know what a day may bring forth, but God knows the end from the beginning (cf. Rev 1:8)! There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass—one is that God knows—and the other is that we do not know.
As the knowledge of the future is hidden from us, we ought not to pry into it. Let the doom of King Saul on Mount Gilboa warn us against such a terrible course. The Philistines make war again, and Saul leads out his army to face them at Mount Gilboa. Before the battle he goes to consult the witch of Endor. The witch, unaware of his identity, reminds him that the king has made witchcraft a capital offence, but he assures her that Saul will not harm her. She conjures the spirit of the prophet Samuel, who before his death (1 Samuel 25:1; 28:3) had both anointed Saul king and prophesied that he would lose the kingdom. Samuel tells him that God will no longer hear his prayers and that the next day he will lose both the battle and his life (1 Samuel 28:15-19). Thus Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died in battle the next day (1 Samuel 31:6).
Further, we are benefited by our ignorance of the future. It is hidden from us for our good. Suppose a certain man is to be very happy by and by. If he knows it he will be discontented till the happy hour arrives. Suppose another man is to have a great sorrow very soon. It is well that he does not know it, for now he can enjoy the present good. He is wisest who does not wish to know what God has not revealed. Here, surely, ignorance is bliss: it would be folly to be wise.
Because we do not know what is to be on the morrow we should be greatly humbled by our ignorance. We think we are so wise; do we not? And we make a calculation that we are sure is correct! We arrange that this is going to be done, and the other thing; but God puts forth His little finger, and removes someone we love, or changes some circumstance, and all our propositions fall to the ground! We know nothing for sure. Let that thought humble us greatly.
Seeing that these things are so, we should remember the brevity, the frailty, and the end of life. We cannot be here long. If we live to the extreme age of men, how short our time is! We are glad that we do not know when our love ones are to die; and we feel thankful that we cannot foretell when we shall depart out of this life. What good would it do us? Since He is with us, we are content to leave the ordering of our lives to His unerring wisdom. We ought, for every reason, to be thankful that we do not know the future; but, at any rate, we can clearly see that to count on it is folly, and that ignorance of it is a matter of fact.
Recognition of God with regard to the future is true wisdom. No harm can come to us if we bow to God’s sovereign sway. Do we put ourselves entirely at God’s disposal? Are we really His, or have we kept back a bit of ourselves from the surrender? We say, “We are not our own; we are bought with a price.” But do we really mean it? Are we all for Christ? Let us now take a look at what it means to surrender to God.
When we reach the age when we can make moral choices, we must choose whether to follow our own sinful inclinations or to seek God (cf. Joshua 24:15). God promises that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him (cf. Jeremiah 29:13). When we find Him, we have a choice to make: do we continue to follow our own inclinations, or do we surrender to His will?
Surrender is a battle term. It implies giving up all rights to the conqueror. When an opposing army surrenders, they lay down their arms, and the winners take control from then on. Surrendering to God works the same way. God has a plan for our lives, and surrendering to Him means we set aside our own plans and eagerly seek His for He holds the future. The good news is that God’s plan for us is always in our best interest (cf. Jeremiah 29:11), unlike our own plans that often lead to destruction (cf. Proverbs 14:12). Our Lord is a wise and beneficent victor; He conquers us to bless us.
There are different levels of surrender, all of which affect our relationship with God. Initial surrender to the drawing of the Holy Spirit leads to salvation (cf. John 6:44; Acts 2:21). When we let go of our own attempts to earn God’s favor and rely upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf, we become a child of God (cf. John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But there are times of greater surrender during a Christian’s life that brings deeper intimacy with God and greater power in service. The more areas of our lives we surrender to Him, the more room there is for the filling of the Holy Spirit (cf. Ephesians 5:18). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we exhibit traits of His character (cf. Galatians 5:22). The more we surrender to God, the more our old self-worshiping nature is replaced with one that resembles Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Romans 6:13 says that God demands that we surrender the totality of ourselves; He wants the whole, not a part: “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” Jesus said that His followers must deny themselves (Mark 8:34)—another call to surrender.
The goal of the Christian life can be summed up by Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Such a life of surrender is pleasing to God, results in the greatest human fulfillment, and will reap ultimate rewards in heaven (cf. Luke 6:22-23).
Let us surrender ourselves to the Lord with the song “I Surrender All”: