Not long ago, I got a wonderful - and unusual - invitation. Gail, one of our ministry's most dedicated volunteers, recently invited us to attend her baptism. Now Gail has known and served Jesus for many years, but somehow she has never followed her Lord in His example of being baptized. Part of that might be because she has always felt very self-conscious about being in front of a group of people. But when she felt her Lord's urging to take this step, she went for it. It was in a church that baptizes by immersion, and she was one of several who were baptized that day. Each one was asked if they had accepted Christ as their personal Savior. They all said yes, but you couldn't hear most of them very well. But Gail was loud and strong in her "Yes, I have!" It was a beautiful moment when, after all these years, she was lowered into those baptismal waters. Several days later, she was back in our office working - and carrying a white handkerchief in her hand. She told me that was the handkerchief she used to cover her nose and mouth when she was baptized. Then she waved it gently and then added a touching "P.S." She said, "This is my surrender flag."
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "White Flag Winners."
I'm not going to recommend that we all carry a little white handkerchief in our hand - some of us guys would look especially strange. But it might be time for your personal surrender flag - the sign that you're finally willing to give in and do it God's way. I don't know what all has gone on in our friend Gail's heart, but I can tell you that all of us who know her are seeing a freedom, a lightness of spirit, a peace we've never seen before. Those gifts go with that white flag.
Our word for today from the word of God is from Joshua 5:13. Now, we're with General Joshua on the eve of what will be the battle he will be known for throughout the ages. Just ahead of the Jewish people is the walled city of Jericho, a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in their path. Joshua is out scouting the situation himself. Then comes the startling confrontation.
"When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, 'Are you for us or for our enemies?' 'Neither,' he replied, 'but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.' Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence and asked him, 'What message does my Lord have for His servant?'" Many Bible scholars believe that this angelic commander was actually the Son of God making a pre-Bethlehem appearance. For one thing, no angel would have accepted this kind of worship.
And notice where Joshua is - facedown on the ground before the Lord. Joshua - the mighty general, the undefeated leader, the successful leader, the brilliant strategist - facedown on the ground in the most powerless position a man could be in. He's not on his feet, he's not on his seat, he's not even on his knees - he is in a position of total surrender. The man who has never surrendered to any man is totally surrendered to heaven's Commander. He is in the most powerful position on earth - powerlessness before the Most High God. And this night of Joshua's white flag is followed by his total obedience to the strange but powerful orders of God - and then by the greatest victory of his life. Surrender led to victory.
That's what it has done for my friend with the white handkerchief. That's what it will do for you. That area you have insisted on controlling, that part of you you've just stubbornly refused to yield, where you have insisted on things being your way - it's time to drop your sword and raise your white flag. It's time to surrender. In the shadow of your Jericho, this is your facedown on the ground crossroads. When it's Jesus you surrender to, surrender doesn't mean you lose, it means you are on the verge of some of the greatest victories of your life.