surrenderThe last week of July I was fortunate to be able to be a part of a Senior High adventure trip to the beautiful Upper Peninsula.  It was filled with a lot of laughter, fun, great food, and some new games.  We took kids to Tahquamenon Falls, Mackinac Island, the Lake Michigan shore, and a rock quarry for swimming.  I have never been with a group of twenty kids for 3 hours and heard them laugh as much as I did at that quarry.  It was a fantastic trip!

One of the things that we did was to put together a series of “chapel” times at night and in the morning where we would discuss five topics and the importance of them in the life of a teen today.  We talked about Respect, Wisdom, Grace, Destiny, and Perspective and how mastering these five “Life Threads” would provide them with:

  1. A healthy Respect for God and the people He has put in authority over us – like it or not.
  2. Wisdom in how to face the trials of life when they come – and they will.
  3. Grace to overcome the hurts that people put us through time and again by realizing that we are recipients of the grace that God has given us for hurting Him time and again.
  4. A sense of Destiny as we learned that God has a plan for our lives, and He will nudge us toward that plan.  He wants us to come to Him, and He has certain things that He wants to see us accomplish
  5. A godly Perspective as we view the world around us. The world has lost its moral compass. And there are so many things that are eagerly jumping up to grab the attention of our kids today, and even though things are more blatant than they used to be, it is still the subtle things that pull us away from God and lead us astray.  We need to see the world for what it is, and see God for who He is!

So, we had some great teaching, but this year we also added the element of a worship time.  I’m going to brag a little bit here, so hang on and bear with me.  It will come back around the right way!

This year my son Zachary brought his guitar and together we led worship for the group.  It was so much fun seeing him do so well at something he loves to do (play the guitar) and to be doing something together that we both really enjoy (music).  He is growing as a young man, and is starting to flex his leadership qualities a little more.  He is still young, and is going to make mistakes, but I am so blessed that he is doing so much better than I was at his age.  I can’t wait to see what God does with him.

One really neat thing about Zach leading the worship is that we brought a new song to the group.  We sang it at almost every chapel, and then on our last night when we sang it, I shared with the group that the song had been written by Zach.  They were all really impressed, and I know that positive feedback did something really good to Zach’s confidence.  I can’t wait to see how that pans out moving forward!

Here are the lyrics to the song:

“I Surrender” – by Zachary Tanner

 Verse 1
We say You’re in control,
But do we mean it?
I’ve said it before,
But I just don’t feel it.
I don’t want to give up the reins.
We say God is good; God is great,
But do I trust You with my fate?
It seems all You give me is pain.

God, I surrender.
I give it to You.
No matter what, I know
You’ll pull me through.
You know my story
You know what I’ll do
God, I surrender.
I give it to You.

Verse 2

It’s easy to say.
Not so easy to do,
Especially when things take the place of You.
We call out to family and friends.
We stew in anger, but we just don’t see,
Maybe we should call out to Christ the King.
And do what Your will intends.


I give it all to You, my God.

I give it all to You.

I give it all to You, my God.

I give it all.

After we got back from the trip we saw several of the teens posting comments on Facebook about the song, posting lyrics from the song, and had leaders from the trip tell us how that song is stuck in their minds.  Someday we are going to sit down with Zach’s guitar teacher and we are going to record it so we can share it with more people.

I see the song as not just something I can be proud of my son for writing, but something I have started to see in his life simply in getting to the point that he would be willing to get up in front of people and share his gift with them.  He struggles with that, but he has been working very hard at surrendering his fear to God and allowing God to strengthen Him to do things outside his comfort zone.  I think that sometimes he feels like I am the one giving him the “strength” because I just force him to do it, but I am seeing a growth take place in him – bit by bit.

The song is striking a cord in me as well.  I’ve shared with people the struggles of growing up in a legalistic church where religion was used as a rod on my back, and it put a lot of disrespect for the church and distrust of church leadership in my heart.  I have seen some terrible things done to people in the name of “godly interest.”  I was not allowed to think for myself, to ask questions, or to do much besides blindly follow.  I felt many times like my life was nothing but surrendering what I wanted to do in favor of something that somebody else said I should do.  Surrender is not what I thought it was.

Surrender is a yielding of my strength, wisdom, desire, and direction in favor of someone else’s.  It is a voluntary thing that shows a heart that wants something better than the current situation.  I don’t have to surrender just the things I want, but I can also surrender the things I don’t want in my life.  That is what God is asking for when He asks us to surrender to Him.  He wants us to enter into a trusting relationship where we can delight in what He has for us rather than what we can do in ourselves.  He wants us to give Him access to the things that are holding us back.  Sometimes we realize it, but sometimes we don’t.

Our lessons were about Joseph, and when the topic of Joseph was chosen, the words to Zach’s song were not in my mind.  When we decided to debut his song on the trip, I was not even thinking about how the message of the song tied in so well to Joseph’s life.  Joseph lived a life that had a lot of pain and betrayal, but he lived a life of surrender to God.  He knew that God was taking him somewhere, and in the end, he was able to say with confidence that God meant it all for good.

I’m thankful for the opportunity we had to share the message of Joseph and the 5 life threads.  I am thankful that Zach was able to share his song and that it had an impact on the teens.  I am thankful that I get the opportunity to not only have fun, but to work with youth and with good people.  The trip is one of the best trips I have ever been on, and the things I took away from it are going to stick with me for the rest of my life.

So, how about you?  Is there something you need to surrender?  Let it go.  Give it to God.  He’s got a better way of handling it!

If this was encouraging to you in any way, I’d love to hear from you!   Feel free to comment below.

In His Grip,


P.S. – By the time I am posting this on Monday morning I am face to face with the need to surrender some stress that has been thrust upon me in the form of water well issues and some disgruntled people outside of my home.  Taking the time right now for prayer and asking God for peace in my heart and mind and for wisdom in handling the things that  must be handled.



Author: Tom Tanner

I'm a follower of Christ, husband, and father. Over the last few years I have been learning how to dig deeper into God's Word and letting it influence more of my life. As I learn, try, fail, and repeat in this process I am seeing God's hand more and more in my life and that of my family as well. This journey is long, hard, and at times a little lonely, but living a Relentless life for Christ has rewards that reach beyond me and my family. My prayer is that it brings God glory and leaves a legacy that will show His influence in my life.

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