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Waving the White Flag of Surrender

Posted Sep 08 2011 7:54pm

In American culture and in our humanness, we believe we will be the winner. It could be a simple discussion with someone who has an opposite view, cheering our child’s soccer team, or leaving a stop light. Ultimately, we know there will be a winner and a looser, and we will not lose.

My walk with God is like that. He shows me a place of necessary growth. Instantly, my pride begins to argue that I really don’t need to change. A tussle with the Lord begins . . . until I get tired of struggling and I wave my white flag of surrender.

I lost the scuffle. I am the loser, I think. Yet, the reality is that when God wins, I win. My white flag waving isn’t the beginning of a prison sentence; it’s the beginning of my freedom in Christ.

Throughout history, waving some type of white flag has represented surrender. Raised empty hands above one’s head, paper adhered to the front of a helmet, a torn t-shirt or handkerchief tied to a stick, or a sheet attached to a pole are all examples of white flag symbols of surrender.

Whether it is a full war or a small disagreement, the white flag allows the weaker side to yield to negotiation and expect protection as seen in the ancient rules of war in the Old Testament, (Deuteronomy 20:19-20) through the modern days of The Hague and Geneva Conventions.

Surrendering can be a single act or a process.

By definition, waving of the white flag is a noun - a single one time event resulting in acknowledgement of defeat. As a verb, surrender is a continuous yielding.

Trusting God is a lifetime process. In Psalms, David’s voice is an unremitting sound of internal struggle to the One he knows will defend and protect him. For David, this is not a one time event of waving the white flag of surrender but a continual choosing to yield his faith to his God.

In this process, David is not a defeated prisoner, but a man who can walk in the freedom of God’s protection and rescue.

“Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this” (Psalm 37: 3-5)

“He will do this” becomes clear as the psalm continues, telling David and countless generations how God is going to protect and defend against our enemies as we trust him, delight ourselves in him, and commit our ways to him.

Each week, a man in my church waves a white hankie during worship service. Hand raised high, he waves that hankie with the fervency of a cheerleader at a playoff game.

When I asked someone about why he waved the hankie, they answered that it was joyful gratitude for his grandpa giving his life to Christ. His grandpa had been an alcoholic, but when he gave his life to Christ, his grandpa was healed of that deadly disease. He now lives his life in Christ.

Every day, I have opportunities to wave the white flag, rejoicing in all the Lord has done for me. Yet, sometimes instead of rejoicing, I wrestle with the Lord, wrestle against new opportunities for growth.

I forget that God wants to protect me from harm, defend me from enemies, and free me from the situations that will defeat me.

As a reminder, I stuck a white hankie in my Bible. When I struggle to trust the Lord, I pull it out, and wave my white flag as an act of surrender.  


Donna Helzer Donna Helzer ’s greatest joy is sharing the journey of discovery and trusting God’s wisdom in the midst of life’s challenges.  Whether over coffee, in a note, or blogging, scripture applied to life keeps Donna going.

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