When to Wave the White Flag
Make Your Life Mirror – When to Wave the White Flag
The Stories Behind the Songs
Crying “Uncle!” has stopped many a playground bully in their tracks.
Asking for “Parlay?” has given Captain Jack Sparrow more lives than a cat.
And “Waving the White Flag” has changed the course of nations.
Whether the battlefield has a swing set, a cannon or a tank, it all means one thing: surrender. What happens when the battlefield is your own heart? Then what?
When is it time to wave the white flag? Why is it so difficult sometimes to surrender to God? We fight, we kick, we scream, we want our way, we demand our rights, we question the process, we dig in our heels…and the battle rages on.
Judson W. Van DeVenter was no stranger to the battlefield. He was raised in a Christian home and accepted Jesus as his Savior at the age of 17. He graduated from a University with a Degree in Art, traveled the world visiting galleries, and mastered 13 different instruments. He sang, composed music, taught art, and served in the music ministry of his Methodist Episcopal church. Yet, he eventually found himself embroiled in a battle, torn between his teaching career and his desire to be a part of an evangelistic team. This struggle within himself lasted for almost five years. In 1896, Van DeVenter was conducting the music of a church event. It was during these meetings that he finally waved the white flag. He surrendered his desires completely to God and made the decision to become a full-time evangelist. A song was born in his heart out of his surrender. I want you to hear what happened in his own words.
“For many years I had been studying art. My whole life was wrapped up in its pursuit and the thing farthest from my mind was active Christian service. My dream was to become an outstanding and famous artist. After graduating from college, I studied drawing and painting under a well-known German teacher. To help me financially, I taught school and eventually I became supervisor of art in the public schools of Sharon, Pennsylvania. It was during this period in my life that a revival was held in the First Methodist Church of which I was a member. I became very interested in these meetings as a personal worker. The Spirit of God was urging me to give up teaching and to enter the evangelistic field, but I would not yield. I still had a burning desire to be an artist. This battle raged for five years. At last the time came when I could hold out no longer and I surrendered my all – my time and my talents. It was then that a new day was ushered into my life. I wrote “I Surrender All ” in memory of the time when, after the long struggle, I had surrendered and dedicated my life to active Christian service for the Lord.”
“I Surrender All” was put to music by Winfield S. Weeden, who published this and many other hymns in several volumes. Weeden so loved this song that the words “I Surrender All” were put on his tombstone. Dr. Billy Graham wrote this tribute to Mr. Van de Venter in the book, Crusade Hymn Stories, edited by Cliff Barrows: “One of the evangelists who influenced my early preaching was also a hymnist who wrote “I Surrender All, the Rev. J. W. Van de Venter. He was a regular visitor at the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity Bible College) in the late 1930’s. We students loved this kind, deeply spiritual gentleman and often gathered in his winter home at Tampa, Florida, for an evening of fellowship and singing.”
When do we wave the white flag? Whenever God asks us to surrender.
In just a couple weeks I’m releasing my first instrumental album, “Finding Tranquility.” Judson’s song of surrender is on my album. Who knows if Billy Graham would have had the same scope of ministry without Judson’s influence. “I Surrender All” is a hard song to sing and an even harder song to live. But if God asks you to wave the white flag, it’s worth it.
I Surrender All
All to Jesus, I surrender; All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him , In His presence daily live.
Refrain: I surrender all, I surrender all, All to Thee, my bless’d Savior, I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender; Humbly at His feet I bow, Worldly pleasures all forsaken; Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus, I surrender; Make me, Savior, wholly Thine; Let me feel the Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus, I surrender; Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy love and power; Let Thy blessing fall on me.
If you want to “Make Your Life Mirror” the Word of God, surrender. Matthew 10:39 tells us , “He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Maybe you need to cry “Uncle”, or ask for “Parlay” or wave the white flag. Whatever our battlefields look like, God promises a new day for us – just like He did for Judson – if we simply surrender.
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What
Leave me a comment! What do the words of this hymn mean to you? Share your comment and you’ll be entered in a weekly drawing to win your own free copy of “Finding Tranquility,” available in October.