Back in 98 I was working as a schools worker in St Albans England. God had moved in my heart that I should go into high schools and share my faith with whoever would listen. I was also traveling with the band, leading worship, running 2 youth groups, and hanging out in pubs annoying people by trying to convert them.. 

It got to christmas time and I was completely burned out and  tired . I felt like I had nothing left to give. It  seemed that despite all my efforts to share the gospel nothing was really changing. I had really taken to heart prophetic voices that had blown through our town,through our nation,  people were talking up revival, saying that we were some sort of special and unique strategic town in God’s larger plan for global salvation. revival was going to start with us.

Maybe that was true, maybe not,  but any way, I had taken it upon myself to make that happen! It was in that context that one night I sat down with my 3/4 size nylon string guitar and sung to God “I’m giving you my heart and all that is within I lay it all down” I really was at the end of myself and felt so disappointed,  discouraged and more than that I felt damaged (A true artist!!!) I wasn’t sure If God had let me down or If I had let him down..

The second part of the story came as a real shock to me. Whist hanging out at Youth With a Mission in Harpenden, I was talking to a guy called Tre, he mentioned that he and his band were planning a trip to Hawaii, my friend Jono was the bass player for the band, he was unavailable for the trip.. for a joke I said ” hey I will play bass for you in Hawaii! How hard can it be it only has 4 strings” 

We all laughed and I mentioned that there was a young bass player called Mark Sampson from my church who was going to be out there any way, maybe they could use him. 

Later that day I got a call from Tre inviting me round to his flat. He said ” Hey man I have been thinking and I want you to pray about coming to Hawaii and playing guitar with us, I don’t have the money but here is a check for the first £150 for the ticket, I believe in you and if God wants you to go he will provide” 

I was a little stunned, and very exited. and less than a month later I was on a plane to Hawaii, my first time out of europe. 

A group of about 400 young people met together every day for a week in a large and dusty marquee at the University Of the Nations in Kona Hawaii. We worshiped, we prayed, we studied the bible and the early church, We layed down our lives , at times rocked our hearts out to jesus. We wrestled with  issues, we tried to surrender the things that we held on to, not just our obvious sins but also our free time, our money, our dreams, we imagined ourselves giving up our rights to the Lord..  together  we began to dream about what might happen if we truly took up our crosses and followed the example of jesus who said “not my will but yours”.

So, one morning… feeling both blessed and challenged I sat on a the porch where I had been sleeping and began to write the rest of the song.

I surrender all to you all to you.. 

The song grew wings and flew! Far beyond anything that I could have imagined. we recorded it first on the 100 hours album, then on the St Albans vineyard album, followed by a Vineyard UK release, followed by a release in the USA followed by translations into portuguese, spanish,korean, german etc etc.. Far Out!

12 years have passed since I wrote that song.. At lot has changed in my life, I am now a husband, I am now a Father, I am older, I have a few more battle scares, I have been to the end of myself a few more times, I have been broken a few more times. 

Through it all a lot has changed inside me. I doubt God’s love for me less , I strive for his attention a little less. I cry more, I laugh more, I sleep less;) I am more free. I trust more, I love more.

A lot is still the same.. deep inside me there is a longing that wont let me go, something unsatisfied, an ache, The broken heart of God still gnaws away at my insides, ruining me for the ordinary, I know that there is more. 

I still sing the song, maybe now with more trust in my heart, knowing that jesus was able to surrender his life even unto death because he trusted in the character of his Father, even when the circumstances seemed scream the opposite as he sweated blood in the garden of Gethsemane, somehow he was able to trust, somehow he was able to surrender himself..

So 12 years on and here is “Surrender” the album, one old one and a load of new ones. It seemed appropriate to start my blogging career with the story of the song that I am most known for. 

Over the years it has been amazing to hear from some people about moments/stories they have had with the song..I am honoured and privileged to have a part of my story connect with yours even through you reading this! Would love to hear your comments and share your thoughts bellow.  

God bless you


16 responses to “Surrender

  1. thank you for sharing your heart, bro. Stay hungry for the Lord and keep sharing your honest heart!

  2. I’m grateful for the song; thank you for sharing the story. I look forward to your posts!

  3. I am vacationing in the tiny province of PEI in Canada. This morning my mum and I were travelling to visit a nearby church and for some reason I was telling her about your testimony. When we arrived at the church guess what they sang – ‘Surrender’ of course, and i said ‘Mum – this song was written by that crazy British guy i was telling you about on the way here’. It kind of blew her away. She’s 76. The message of that song is timeless.

  4. I love how you have shared this story in such a down to earth way. I can relate to it so well. Look forward to more entries

  5. Thanks for sharing the story. As a 44yr old worship pastor in Texas, USA, I have also experienced the ups and downs, successes and brokeness. “Surrender” ALWAYS challenges me to lay down MY dreams and MY pride for the gospel. Thank God for His faithful and steadfast love. Thanks Marc for the song story and amazing song.
    God bless,

  6. Great to read your story, you’re a good man with a huge heart. Look forward to reading more.

  7. Marc,

    Great to hear the back story to the song. In fact we sang it this morning at our early morning prayer/worship gathering here.

    It’s still fresh!


  8. Marc –
    Thanks so much for the candor of your story. This song hit me like a buzz-saw and became a sort of theme-song for a dark time in my own life. Surrender was the only option.

    It’s been very meaningful to read the story behind it. I so relate to your words: “I really was at the end of myself and felt so disappointed, discouraged and more than that I felt damaged (A true artist!!!) I wasn’t sure If God had let me down or If I had let him down.”

    I know God can never let me down, but I was tempted to feel that He had…
    But, God’s promise of new life and resurrection really is trustworthy and true! When I think of where I was when I first heard your song and where I am now, I want to surrender even more!

    Thanks again for your song and the story behind it!


  9. Marc, you just reminded me and described what has always been in my heart…but I let my deepest desires sleep and my heart and life seem to be very lukewarm… Still longing and thrilling for more.

  10. Hi Marc,
    Just thought I might mention that when you first played that song to our youth small group (I think it was the week after the Hawaii gathering) it was one of those things where I leaned back, breathing it in and thinking, “THAT is what I wanted to say.”
    I put the little lyric sheet you gave us in my Bible and still have it.
    Love from Cornwall …

  11. Pingback: Free Vineyard MultiTrack backing track. Surrender by Marc James.·

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