For a long time, especially when I first started in ministry many years ago, I listened to the local Christian music station in the car. Mostly, this was because I needed a positive space in my life between running from meetings to ball games to home and back. It made sense to fill the background of my life with Jesus music, and I hoped some of the messages would sink in subconsciously.
After a while, though, the Jesus music started getting stale. Boring. Uninspired.
I found some Catholic musicians who were playing "secular" music that carried much more Spirit in the lyrics and the tunes than the mass-market "Christian" stuff... I found some real, heartwrenching beauty where I hadn't expected it - in the religious questions of the grunge movement, in the journey of artists like Bono or Springsteen, in the love and loss songs of Adele or Colbie Caillait.
With that disclaimer, though, I have to admit that when I was in prayer today looking at Christ in the monstrance, I had the old Mercy Me song in my head: I can feel Your presence here with me / Suddenly I'm lost within Your beauty, / Caught up in the wonder of Your touch, / Here, in this moment, I surrender to Your love.
It's a very intimate song, a modern reflection perhaps of the Song of Songs. God as Lover. A God who is at once real and passionate - towards us, towards me.
And on this last Friday before Holy Week, I couldn't help playing that last line over and over in my mind and heart. I surrender to Your love. What does this mean? Surrender is a strong word. One doesn't "surrender" partially. You surrender fully or not at all. In a more negative connotation, surrendering to an enemy, for instance, means you put your life in their hands. We've all seen the war movies. Those who wave a white flag usually keep their lives, but they are at the complete mercy of the victor. They risk poor treatment, imprisonment, slavery. They give all they have -land, belongings, power, ownership - away. They trade their lives for loss, and for mercy.
Surrendering to love is, of course, not quite this same thing, though it does have the same notes. One must give up one's very self, knock down all walls or barriers, in a sense relinquish "ownership" to become part of another, and not just empowered over one's own self... one becomes another's, as in "I am my Beloved's, and He is mine." Perhaps the greatest difference is that this is a "positive" event, and not a choice of desperation.
Why wouldn't we surrender to love? After all, love hopes all things, wants our very best, is patient, kind, and gentle. And still, I find myself resisting that surrender in so many ways. As in, God, I will give you everything except... or just Not Now, God, maybe later. Surrender is scary, it means I cannot control everything (or anything?), and over and above all things, it means I have to Trust. I have to trust in the reality of love. I have to believe that God really is Love, and not a tyrant. And, as with human love, it's most desireable that I would meet passion with passion - that surrendering to Love is not only giving of myself completely in wild abandon, but also fueling the fire of my own love in a full and meaningful gift, because that is surrendering to love within me.
As my heart continues to be tested, I find myself truly wanting to surrender it to Love. Because I know with both my head and my heart that my Beloved will carry me where I cannot tread alone, will soothe me from fear, will hold my hand and give me courage to be truly myself. I know where Love is everything, there I want to be. Caught up in the beauty of Love, I can feel the presence of the Lover of my soul, and I can only be ravished by His love with a full and resounding YES.
With the Annunciation only days ago, and deep in the thick of Lent, we are reminded of what that yes might look like. That yes is yes to change. To being filled with that which is other than ourselves- the Holy Spirit. To being pregnant, waiting, obvious in our relationship to God. That yes is surrender to love - in a passionate, physical, spiritual, emotional way, "again, and again, and again."
So may our prayer be that fiat, that Yes that resonates through time and space this Holy Week, acknowledging a love that broke our bonds and frees us each and every day to choose to surrender to His love.
To Your majesty, and Your beauty, I surrender. / To Your holiness, and your Love, I surrender. / For you are an awesome God, who is mighty, / Who deserves my deepest praise./ With all of my heart, and all of my life, I surrender.