By: Carla McKenzie

“For whoever would save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will find it”

Mt 16:25

There is something deep within my nature that leads me to grab, to grasp, to grapple for control, over myself and others. I don’t think I am alone in this. We all have our plans and our ways of doing things and we are very reluctant to have these challenged or changed, even if it might be for our own good.

Jesus functions in a wholly different way. He invites us to surrender, not so that He can control us but so that we can be free. He wants to show us how to be free from the smallness of self-obsession. He wants to show us how we can be free within ourselves and free amongst others.

Jesus in all His beauty, shows us how to live in a very different way. He lives a life of humility and surrender, and He is entirely free. In the Scriptures, from His friendship with the people He meets and particularly in his interactions with His disciples and close followers, Jesus gently show us by the very way He lives, to live so simply. To trust. To trust in God, and to trust in other people even if sometimes we may get hurt. And in all of this, to be free.

Jesus shows me, praying in the garden of Gethsemane, the struggle of His humanness, His human self that wanted to control things, to avoid pain and to crystallise joy. And yet, there is His final triumph of surrender. It led to great suffering, which with openness he accepted, but it ultimately lead to the greatest joy and freedom.

Similarly, Jesus lived a life of acceptance. I think this is difficult for us to understand, as we might imagine a passivity or resignation, but I do not think this is what Jesus is like. Jesus’ acceptance came from a deep, in fact the deepest, loving surrender. A deep freedom. Jesus shows us that in our living with hands open, we can become open to God’s ways and plans, which are far more wonderful than anything we could come up with. God’s life and life-giving generosity is beyond me and my control, but in a beautiful way doesn’t exclude me. Rather it invites me in, in to a life of loving relationship and freedom. I am called always out of the tangles of my self: self-love, self-serving, self-glorification leading down a path of growing pride and isolation, a life of inner death. God calls me instead out of this tangle to a bigger, freer, simpler life lived with God and with others. And all I need do is surrender, for in surrender I can receive of God’s life and life-giving.

God gives us all, even to the point of giving God’s very being: flesh, blood and Spirit. In return God asks not for great performances of gratitude or acts of sacrifice, but only that we might return in kind, and give of ourselves. As a result, we enter into a relationship of love, marked by generous and voluntary self-giving shared between the lover and the beloved. It often seems to me like a frightening proposal found in the gospel of Matthew, that “whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Lately, a subtle shift is happening in me, from focusing on what I might lose to what I might find. I don’t think surrender to God is a onetime event but rather a lifetime of growing trust, often with faith faltering, two steps forward, one step back. But, even now, in each small act of surrender, even though my faith be faltering, I am constantly surprised God’s generosity in return. I am growing more and more convinced that a life lived with God is a strange and beautiful thing.


(‘Sweet surrender.’ By Luke Parker)

Profile CarlaAbout the Author

Carla Mckenzie

I am an adult convert to Catholicism, which happened much to my own surprise and that of those around me. I live in a vibrant catholic student community and am studying medicine, which occupies much of my time and thoughts. The rest I spend balancing my desire to read the omnipresent pile of books next to my bed and spending time with family and friends, being outdoors: hiking and surfing.  I love the church most for its misfit mystics and eccentric saints, and for being able to follow Pope Francis on Twitter.