Your Will Be Done
by Brett Barry
“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet, not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42
April 10, 2017
What an incredible Monday morning - it’s beautiful outside and looks like it’s going to be a lovely, sunny day. I was blessed to have gotten some much-needed sleep last night and then to be up early to fellowship with God through His Word and exercise. A great start to the collection of moments He has entrusted to me. And, should I see tomorrow, may I again be so blessed (and responsible :).
It’s now 8:53 AM. A few moments ago I was working on tomorrow’s Cornerstone devotional when my cell rang and up popped the name of a much-loved friend from out of town, the husband of a Christian couple Erin and I have been close to over the years and always make a point to try and visit whenever we are in their area. I’ll call them Jim and Karen.
So, with great delight, I answered, “Jim! How’s it going?” There was a moment of silence, followed by a heavy sigh, and then his response, “Well…not too well. I’m not sure how to say this exactly, but," another heavy sigh… "Karen and I are divorcing.”
A very dark cloud just blocked the morning sun.
I was stunned and felt strangely detached as Jim said a few more things about how, though he doesn’t completely agree with all her perspectives, he does understand why Karen would want a divorce. My mind raced. The news was so surreal. He only had a few minutes, so wasn't able to go into the "why" of the announcement, but as I listened a glaring question arose within me.
I asked, “Who have you spoken to about the process that led you to this decision? I mean, who knows about the struggles you’ve been having?
Jim then confided that their difficulties have been kept secret over the years and that he recognizes that is part of the problem…
As I’ve been mulling this over the past couple of hours, I keep thinking about Nick’s awesome message Sunday outlining how, in our wilderness, The Lord spreads a table for us and invites us to dine with Him. No matter where we are, no matter what we’re going through, a feast of His goodness awaits us. The question is, will we come to the table? If yes, the next question is, Will we eat…and not just with Him, but, of Him?
It’s the “of Him” part that causes most to turn away.
As I think about our friends, their story is similar to most Christian couples Erin and I encounter who are having difficulty. It's not a marriage thing (marriage just helps reveal it), but rather, it's a heart thing. At the heart of what brings division in any relationship, whether with God or others, is our coming to the table but refusing to partake of the first thing God presents with every course—that which neutralizes our palate and prepares us to receive the full impact of His goodness at the very depths of our being: Humility.
He says, “Eat of Me.”
Even now, Jesus, and ALL He is, has and is capable of doing, is fully available to us for consumption. But we have to humble ourselves to partake.
Humble ourselves? Am I speaking of works here?
No. Just the process of cause and effect.
Humility initially begins in that place where, in the light of God’s all-consuming, fiery presence, we see both our lack and His provision for it: our inability in the face of His ability. If we are then willing, He gives and we receive. He gives His Spirit; we receive forgiveness AND empowering to love Him, ourselves and others sacrificially, which involves our overcoming the self-centered desires and perspectives we hold that lead us to defensive maneuvers instead of proactive, Love-centered ones.
Overcoming. That's hard. Even impossible.
Indeed. But then Jesus extends His nail-scared hands and says, “Now, by My Spirit, give Me your lack. Give Me what you cannot do. What you cannot feel. What you cannot see. Give Me your failures, offenses, hurt, your inability to forgive. Give these to Me, and you will know My strength, My hope, My purpose. Give Me your ‘I cannot’ and I will give you My “I can.”
Yep, I tend to like the forgiveness part of humbling ourselves because it brings cleansing of conscience. But the empowering part, that which calls us to overcome, is a lot more challenging because with it comes responsibility—to now do what we know.
In God’s eyes, since by His Spirit I am now able, I am responsible. It's part of growing up.
So, if we willingly humble ourselves, coming to the Lord’s table is a delight, as Nick so beautifully laid out. But if not, having come to His table we find the menu reads something like this:
- Appetizer: Lowly Deep Fried Cheese Sticks
- First Course: Meek Leek Soup
- Second Course: Humility Humas Salad
- Main Course: Courageous Chicken of Obedience
- Dessert: Humble Pie
(Nick’s table was a lot more attractive!)
There is more to fleshing this out, for which we do not have time today. But I pray you get the gist. While every healthy relationship consists of two humility-oriented hearts, we can never know how much of our challenge is really of the other person until we first humble ourselves to the point of fully yielding to God’s will and ways, regardless of what it costs us.
George Muller, on the matter of ascertaining the will of God, wrote, “I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people is just here.” If I have an opinion about how God answers a concern, then I am still affecting (infecting) the process of His will with my own will.
After 30 years of marriage, our friends said they’re announcing their divorce to their four, young adult children tonight. Honestly, along with hurting for them, I’m also frustrated with them. I have known them both as capable, loving and God-seeking individuals who were seemingly open and transparent. We’ve always shared a kindred spirit regarding God and our faith journey. And while I'm confident they are still the quality people we've known them to be, what’s clearly missing somewhere in the mix is the willingness to humble oneself enough to vulnerably, even desperately, cry out for help, both to God and to others. And that’s always destructive to marriage, friendship and oneness with God.
After giving Jesus our “I cannot”, He next asks us to give Him our “will not” in exchange for His very confession, “…not My will, but Your will be done.”
That’s even harder. For, truly, our independent willfulness is really the heart of the matter. We like what Jesus did, the way He loves and forgives, and everything else He promises. It’s all really…hopeful sounding. But the requirement to live as He lived by the empowering of the Holy Spirit, not as much. That sounds more like wilderness and an alter of sacrifice. Truth is, it’s both. And God uses them to reveal who we are at our depths (that it might go well with us in the end, Deut. 8:16).
When it comes down to it, whether in our relationship with God or others, we tend to do what we want most. And we want most what we value most.
So, the question I ask both you and myself is this:
- Is what you value most leading you to deeper intimacy and oneness with Jesus? Or, is it leading you to a deceived and hardened heart through the crystalizing of your own opinions and perspectives?
Merciful and gracious Lord Jesus, Above all else and whatever the cost, may we value oneness with You so much that we humbly seek and protect Your will and ways being established in our hearts and minds - the fruit of Your Spirit in us.. For the honor of Your good name and the advancement of Your kingdom on earth, Amen.
Friend, the result of God’s will and ways being established in our hearts and minds is that our lives become more and more pleasing to Him, because such renewal transforms us into His likeness. And that affects both us and everyone we encounter.