News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: The paradox of surrender

SAN FRANCISCO (BP) — Twenty years ago I surrendered my sexuality to God. After days of wrestling with Him, I knocked on my wife’s door and asked her if I could come home. She said yes, and we began, inch by inch, the journey of surrender, restoration, redemption and rebuilding that we remain on today.
I had left her months earlier after having surrendered myself to my sexuality. For most of my life I had fought feelings and desires I did not want. When I finally gave up the fight, I felt liberated.
The inner tension that had defined so much of my life seemed to disappear. I felt free from the confines of my traditional sexual boundaries, free of the urge to hide myself and free of secrets.
Yet something was “off” inside me. Over time, I felt less free and began to feel unsafe. Everything I read said I should embrace it, learn to love it, and live with it. Escape was described as an exercise in futility. So I pressed on.
On Easter weekend 1997, through a testimony of a man who struggled as I did, I reconnected with Jesus. But it was not the Jesus I thought I had known. It was a very real, very strong, very powerful Jesus. I realized that He was offering me the freedom that I thought surrendering to my sexuality would give me.
He offered me love — a love that loved me where I was and loved me too much to leave me there. And so, on April 17, 1997, I held up a white flag and surrendered myself to Jesus. 
For years I had made demands of God under the guise of prayer, and when He failed to meet my demands, I decided that He either lacked the power to meet my demands or that He simply didn’t care. But on that day in 1997, I had no expectations or demands. I knew without a doubt that He was calling me back to Himself and to give up the fight.
Instead of demanding of God the result I wanted, I simply said, “God, I give this all to You. Do with it what You will.” He accepted my surrender, and nothing looks like anything I could have imagined.
Over the years, people have often asked me about the current state of my sexuality, and about specific changes that might or might have happened in my desires. When I admit the existence of lingering struggles or the reality of ongoing issues, there is often this unspoken (and sometimes spoken) thought that surrendering my sexuality to God might not have been worth it. Other strugglers often seem to want proof that God will do certain things as they tally the pros and cons of surrender.
But surrender is not an act of assessing pros and cons. We often forget that we are not in a position to bargain when we surrender, coming to some sort of terms as to what we will keep and what we will give up.
We simply surrender all.
In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul says that Christ died for all, “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Two verses later Paul ties the idea of living for Christ with the idea of becoming a new creation. Ceding control of our lives to Jesus is the essence of what it means to be “new.”
There have been times when I have wanted to retract my surrender. While Paul says that we don’t regard “new creations” according to flesh, our flesh still exerts itself. I have been blessed with an amazing wife and many good friends who have reminded me of truth when I was tempted by the lie that what I walked away from was better than what I now have.
When I first began this journey, I was afraid of what I might look like when God was finished with me. But God has been faithful to reveal things to me as I am ready for them, and to prepare me for each new and exciting part of the redeemed and transformed life I have in Him.
Now, 20 years later, I feel safer and freer than I did 20 years ago. God-willing, 20 years from now I will look back on today and be equally amazed at how my life, under His care, love, leadership and ownership, has changed for the better.
The paradox of surrender is that in it we find freedom. In surrender, I found joy and purpose and security and abundant life. I have also discovered that I assert control and fight against God in many other areas of my life, areas like money and relationships and affirmation and acceptance.
As we live surrendered lives, we all have things that fight against the freedom God has for us, and in all of those things we are called to surrender. And as was true when I surrendered my sexuality 20 years ago, when we hand those things over to God, He does not leave us empty.
Instead, we get Jesus. We get the great liberator who lives inside of us — empowering, enlightening, encouraging and embracing us just as we are, yet destined for so much more.

    About the Author

  • Mike Goeke