The only path to victory – joy, peace, and purpose in life – is by surrendering one’s life to God and spending the rest of one’s life surrendering over and over again until it becomes a habit. It is a process, one that takes time and self-discipline. But the result, as Jesus promised, is a life that is full and overflowing – not one without pain – but one of overcoming trial after trial by taking direction from the One who knows and loves us like no one else. The secret of how to do that is in this book.
I have been crucified with Christ, the life I live is not my life but the life which Christ lives in me and my present bodily life is lived by faith and the Son of God who loved me and sacrificed himself for me. (Galatians 2:20-21)
PEOPLE OF EVERY AGE and life situation are searching for true meaning in life and joy. Entire industries have been built on creating products which are marketed under the guise of finding and harnessing those illusive “must have” commodities – true meaning in life and joy.Victory Through Surrender can end your search if you are willing to become a participant and not just a spectator.
Very early in his career my grandfather E. Stanley Jones emphasized the necessity of self-surrender. In 1924, before the publication of Christ of the Indian Road, Jones preached, “It is possible to cross the seas and leave your home and your friends and give up your salary and everything else and yet not give up the final thing – the surrender of one’s self. Yet some of us have realized what that means and in that extreme moment we have said, “Lord, that last thing… take it. I surrender myself to you.”
Jones learned by dint of hard life experience the risk of not surrendering the self. After several years in India Jones began to experience a series of what were described as mental collapses. Jones wrote, My body did not throw off disease as before and I began to have nervous collapses. As a consequence, at the end of eight and one half years, I was ordered to go to America on furlough.
I knew I was called to put Christ into the minds and souls and purposes of the intellectual and political leaders of this new awakening India. But when I looked at my resources, intellectual, spiritual, and physical – there were question marks bordering on dismay. That I should respond to this call was clear.
How I was to do it was far from clear. When he returned to India after a lengthy stay in America, the distressing symptoms re-emerged. Jones knew that he was mentally, spiritually, and physically exhausted. He believed that he was done for. I knew the game was up – I would have to leave the mission field and my work to try to regain my shattered health. As I knelt in prayer in the Lal Bagh church I gave up my shattered health to Christ and surrendered everything to God that I was healed. I rose from my knees a well man.
Jones had turned himself over to God. He had offered a complete self-surrender and this made all the difference. According to Stephen Graham, Jones did not learn the secret of complete self-surrender until he tried to live without it. Once he surrendered his all to Christ Jones had the full resources of Jesus available to him.
“Self ” is the one thing that gives us identity, value, and worth in this world. God asks us to take the one thing that we own (the self) and give it back to Him. In surrendering the self we may naturally fear that nothing will be left-we wonder, according to Jones, about how we are to live without the self, which gives us identity, value, and worth in this world. The response sounds paradoxical for it is in the total surrender of one’s life that one finds true meaning and joy in life. This surrendered self no longer accommodates to the pattern and values of this world, for it has been liberated from the demands of this world and placed in the hands of Jesus.
According to Jones an example of a truly surrendered and paradoxically ‘free man’ is Paul in chains in the jail at Philippi. When we surrender our self, Jones says, the self is not canceled, but cleansed from self-centeredness and returned to us with a new focus – a focus on God. God is now the center of our universe. Jones would say that this self-returned is now a whole and healthy self. We are never so much our selves than when we are most belong to God.
Jones knew that many persons experience the ‘self ” as a problem and a pain. He often used the following phrase to emphasize the difficulties that the un-surrendered self can present to the sorry soul who ‘houses” this problematic being: “Everywhere I go, I go too, and I spoil everything.”
Jones has a sophisticated understanding of religious and psychological viewpoints on the nature and the importance of the ‘self, “ that part of our being able to reflect on its own awareness. As Jones sets up the Christian answer to the “self ” in this book he takes time to explain the non-Christian religions’ perspectives on the “self.” According to Jones, Hinduism and Buddhism are world-weary and self-weary. The focus on self-renunciation and self-transcendence imagine the self as burden to be rid of. Psychiatry, according to Jones, holds virtually the opposite view in that it focuses intently on the self but does not provide a better answer to its paradoxes. Jones sets aside both the Eastern view of the self and the views of modern psychiatry.
Christianity, according to Jones, has the most radical answer to the question of ‘what to do with the self?’ The self is to be surrendered, not denied and discarded or narcissistically over-valued and cultivated, but surrendered. Jones emphasizes that the ‘answer’ to the question of the ‘self ’ is not self-realization as if the answers can be found within the self, but the self-surrender to Christ who holds the ultimate answers.
Christianity points an arrow straight at the heart of our problem – the un-surrendered self – and it says ‘let go of the one thing you’ve got.’
When we give back to God the one thing we own – the self – we can now fulfill the destiny which God intended for us –for the Christian faith teaches that we are a children of God,
and our destiny is to be made into the likeness of the Son of God. When you surrender yourself, you can then fully know yourself as a child of God. You are then under that unfolding destiny that God has for you. You are living under a future that is unfolding with the grace of God. It is a paradox. I can’t explain it, but when you lose your life and find it, you are never so much your own self as when you are most His. Belonging to Him you belong to yourself.
Self-surrender is the only remedy. I cannot go down any road on anything with anybody who has problems without running straight into the necessity of self-surrender. All else is marginal.
This is central. I only have one remedy, for I find only one disease – self at the center, self-trying to be God. The un-surrendered self is the root. The un-surrendered self is the disease.Don’t deal with the symptoms – go to the root, go to the unsurrendered self and say, you got me and I am surrendering now!
Jones concluded most of his sermons with a call to his audience to get on their knees and surrender their broken selves, not their problems but their selves. In so doing, they can take on a new life and affirm “The life I now live is not my life, but the life of which Christ lives in me.”
This book could not have been reprinted without the assistance of the Rev. Shivraj Mahendra whose publishing, editing and theological skills were essential to this project’s success. I don’t know how Shivraj finds the time to move these E. Stanley Jones reprinting projects forward with his customary speed, expertise, and precision. I am deeply grateful to him. Nicholas Younes contributed his considerable editing expertise to ensure that the text is clear and doggedly pursued the helpful annotations. I am surrounded by gifted people and I am blessed because of them. I trust that in turn you will be blessed by this book.
Anne Mathews-Younes, Ed.D., D.Min.