Some time ago, in a personal time of devotion, I was reflecting on the will of God and where it falls in my plans and priorities. I wrote, “The words ‘not my will, but thine be done’ (from Mark 14:36), echo in the valleys, mountains, and flat lands of my life’s experiences like a haunting voice carried by a restless wind. There is no arm pulling me irresistibly into compliance with Your will, Lord, nor is there a cosmic boot kicking me down the center of the street of your plans and purposes. No whips lash my skin, no rods bruise my back, no hand strikes my face commanding me to yield to Your commands, O King.”
“There is simply a voice that calls to You, a voice that I would have as my own, though it is still not quite mine yet. There is a longing within me to want what You long for, a desire to yearn for what it is that You desire. Old man with his old ways (Romans 6:6 & Colossians 3:9) cries out, ‘The cost is too much! The way is too hard! The pain is too great!’ while the will of Your heart that you would give me whispers, ‘No price is too great for the sake of knowing You.’ Fearfulness whimpers, ‘Not yet,’ while hunger and thirst to see Your face cries out, ‘None too soon!’’”
So just what does “the will of God” mean to those of us who say we seek it or to those who say they know it? Too often it means an agreement between ourselves and the God of the universe Who we treat as a mere “co-pilot’ or “co-regent.” Too often we perceive Him as nothing more than a partner in the managing of our lives which we deem should run smoothly and efficiently, helping us in making life profitable for its business partners and providing a lucrative benefit to us.
Sadly, such alliances with God are nothing more than self-serving contracts, complete with conditions for our cooperation and limits to our responsibility. Yet the words that Jesus breathed on the dark night on which He was betrayed had no taint of the rottenness of self-serving spirituality or fawning religiosity that nauseates the stomach of the Almighty (Revelation 3:16).
Jesus’ meaning in the words, “Thy will,” was nothing less than the whole will of God the Father, the complete and utter consummation of the desires of His heart. It meant (and means) that which the King of Glory intends, however sorrowful the road and whatever toll must be paid. The Lord’s will is not what we necessarily desire for ourselves, dream for our lives, or plan for our futures. His will is HIS will. And as we comply with His will, we must ultimately give way to His divine image at work within us by the consecrating blood of Jesus Christ and transforming work of His Holy Spirit Who lives within the heart of the Believer. We pursue “His will” daily when we obey utterly His commands for holy living and love others as He has loved us.
When our own plans come to nothing, we do not grieve but rejoice instead because our God has other roads for us to tread that will reap greater harvests of glory for Himself and bounties of hope for those that He has undertaken to save.
There are but two paths for each of us to consider: our own way or His. Our way leads to short-term benefits, promises comfort, and requires the least work and cheapest price to pay. His way, on the other hand, leads to eternal benefits, promises a reward for our suffering, and ultimately requires all that we have to give.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death…. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Proverbs 14:12, Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV).
Let our hearts cry out, “May my own will crumble before Your purposes, Father!” Let us agree with Jesus’ declaration, “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me,” (John 4:34). The “old man” (the worldly, fleshly self) will tremble within us should we seek to make God’s will our own for it fears both the cost and our own propensity to turn aside after our own plans and old desires. But let us be reminded that such paths lead to nothing but tepid compromises that mean little to our King and yield little of worth for eternity.
So again, let our hearts cry with earnest passion, “Thy will be done, Lord,” and let our hands and feet hurry to render to Him the humble offerings of faithful and trusting obedience as we seek to become what He would have us be and what the world desperately needs to see in us.
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 21 ½ years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.