Still

Surrender

This morning I’m reminded of a quote from the movie Ladies in Lavender: “Growing old is a gradual surrender.”

As I write, my husband, Stan, and I are spending time on the Oregon coast. Today we walked out to the north side of the cape at Kiwanda. It’s been many years since we’ve been here. This section of the cape is shrinking, growing smaller with each storm. The winds, the rain, and the surf smash against it, breaking it down, taking away the topsoil along with trees and underbrush. Sandstone breaks off in chunks—sometimes huge chunks—as the cape gradually gives way, surrendering to the forces of nature.

Growing old is a gradual surrender. Each storm in my life has broken away a part of me. I struggle for control, but it’s being chipped away bit by bit. Though I resist and try to hold on, I’m gradually forced to let go. I feel the hurt and rawness that the breaking process produces. I cry out to God. I complain. I beg for it to go away and leave me alone. I fear for the future. What’s next? Can I bear more?

“Yes,” God’s Word gently reminds me. “Yes, with me you can bear more. I won’t let you be tested beyond what you can bear. Remember? I said I would make a way of escape for you. Believe me, I have.”

Jesus says, “Come to me, cast your burden on me. I will give you a peaceful, restful place at my side. I will pull the weight of your load with you” (1 Cor. 10:13, Matt. 11:28). “Surrender. Surrender to me. It’s easier than fighting. It’s easier than trying to hold it all together.”

At other times I’ve heard God saying, “Surrender the memories of the past that haunt you” (Jer. 31:33). “Make friends with them. I’m already using them for good in your life and in the lives of others.

“Surrender your time. Don’t pack so much into the hours, days, and weeks that you don’t give yourself permission to relax and enjoy the moment. Rest. Spend time with me” (Mark 6:31).

“Surrender your worthless treasures. Don’t cry when they break, become lost, or just don’t fit anymore. I have other treasures much more precious waiting for you” (Matt. 6:19-21).

Yes, growing old is a gradual surrender. Have you ever looked at your naked self in a three-way mirror? One day I did. I was horrified by the effects of time and gravity—the lines, the creases, the drooping skin, the age spots.

To me it looked grotesque, yet alone in that dressing room I found myself laughing. Cellulite, veins, folds—there they were, the surrender of my body to the aging process. I could exercise, I could diet, I could use creams and rejuvenating products, but to no avail. The involuntary surrender will, and must, continue.

Does surrender ever come easily? No, not for me. But I know that in all areas of my life I must surrender to God’s timetable and in those moments of surrender find his peace, joy, humility, and contentment. God says, “I am with you. I love you. You are my joy, my delight. You are beautiful. Don’t resist. Walk with me. Surrender.”

About the Author

Evelyn Vander Veen is a retired preschool teacher and a member of Oak Hills CRC in Beaverton, Ore.

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