‘I Surrender All’ — a message for Pentecost

Special to The Mountaineer
By Lucy N. Adams | May 14, 2013
Photo by: File photo

When we left the closing worship service at a church retreat, my friend seemed different.  Her smiling face had changed to a blank expression.  She kept repeating, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.”
I understood how she felt because the closing hymn had been, “I Surrender All.”  Finally she shared with me, “I should tell the Lord, I am happy to sing that but I really don’t mean it.”
We can think of many hymns of commitment but, “I Surrender All” is at the top of the list.  The word, “all” is what makes it very serious.  It also makes us uncomfortable, knowing that we are sinners and not perfect.  So how do we expect to have a perfect “record” with our surrender?  One way is to recognize those sins and confess each one to our loving Lord.
“All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him, I freely give.  I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.”  In the simple but profound chorus we continue: “I surrender all, I surrender all.  All to Jesus I surrender. I surrender all.”  
Composer, Judson W. Van De Venter (1855-1939) was born in Michigan.  From his youth, he focused on his love for drawing and painting.  He attended art schools in Europe and then became a public school teacher. Through the years, he was an active part of the Methodist Episcopal Church but his first love was for the arts.
However, it became evident that God was calling him into the preaching ministry. He had not answered that call for many years because of the tremendous fulfillment in the teaching profession and his artwork.
He recorded it this way: “At last the pivotal hour of my life came and I surrendered all.  A new day was ushered into my life.  I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me.”  
His preaching flowed into England and Scotland as well as the United States. The musician who worked in ministry with him during crusades was W.S. Weeden.  He also wrote the music for this powerful hymn.
There is a very special person who was touched by the preaching of the Rev. Van De Venter before he died in 1939 in Tampa, Florida.  That person was the young evangelist, Billy Graham, who attended the Florida Bible Institute at that time.  We are deeply thankful that Dr. Graham definitely surrendered all of his life to Jesus and has blessed millions throughout his ministry. Dr. Graham has also told the story of  “I Surrender All” in his book, “Crusade Hymn Stories.”
The five verses of this hymn are all reminders of our joyful and total commitment as a Christian.  Verse three is especially meaningful to me. The focus is on the Holy Spirit who Jesus promised to send after his resurrection and ascension:  “All to Jesus I surrender, make me Savior wholly thine.  Let me feel the Holy Spirit, truly know that Thou art mine.”
For many years, after I became a born-again believer, I did not want to totally surrender to the Holy Spirit. I lacked understanding of the glory and joy of the third Person of the Trinity. I had no desire to explore this total surrender. It took over a decade for me to study and learn about Pentecost and to desire Holy Spirit power for my Christian walk.
With the help of the United Methodist Aldersgate Renewal Ministry (ARM) I dug deeper into the Scripture.
In Acts 1:8 we read the words of Jesus, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (NRSV)
On Pentecost Sunday, May 19, let us surrender all of ourselves to the glory of God and go to spread this Good News.             
Reach Lucy Neeley Adams at Lucya424@aol.com or visit www.52hymns.com.

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