In church this past week we sang the well known hymn, I Surrender All, which always makes me smile. I remember the comment a guest pastor once made after he heard it ––” for the majority of us, the lyrics should probably be ‘I surrender some.'” Most of us are willing to give up things for Christ, but really, ALL? Isn’t some enough?
Like many hymns, there’s a story behind this one. The writer, Judsen Van de Venter, was a public school teacher and active Methodist layman. Because of his fervent devotion to Christ, friends encouraged him to leave his career and become an evangelist. It took five years for him to “surrender all.” Here is his testimony of how the hymn and his change of heart came about:
“The song was written while I was conducting a meeting at East Palestine, Ohio, and in the home of George Sebring (founder of Sebring Campmeeting Bible Conference . . .). For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. 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. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, he caused me to sing.”
As you listen, ask yourself if you are surrendering all or only some to the call of Jesus.