Lessons learned are never fun. Learning a lesson is often painful, heartbreaking, rough. It involves the shattering of your perceived paradigm and letting God rebuild it to match His perfect perspective. It means letting go of what you believe and accepting that there’s a better option. Most of the time, you’re asked to let go of what you have in your hand without knowing if something better is going to replace it. Learning a lesson is never fun.
Fortunately, I have the most patient, loving, gentle teacher there is. My Jesus. He lovingly holds my hand as he shows me that there are better ways than those I’ve chosen. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it fun to have my worldview shattered.
This blog is for Christians, especially Christians who have been following Jesus for quite some time. If you don’t believe in God, if you think Christianity is dumb, please, keep your opinion to yourself. But if you know Jesus, read on and see if God has something to say to you.
Christians. Christ followers. Like Jesus. That’s what we’re supposed to be. And although we make mistakes, although we are far from perfect, we are to emulate Jesus in everything. EVERYTHING. Even in obeying and lending favor to the will of the Father. What exactly does that mean? Seems simple enough. We say “God, let your will be done”. We quote, “never the less, not my will, but Your’s be done”. We echo Jesus’ words in the garden, but do we actually mean them? I’ve found that most of the time, in my life, when I echo that phrase in my prayers, what I actually mean is “God, this is what I really want, and I’ll wait a little while longer until you’re ready to give me what I want”. I’m really good at consoling other Christians by perspective taking on their lives, seeing that God is at work, and reminding them that His will is so much better than our own. But when it comes to my own life, I find myself very disappointed when God doesn’t answer my prayers the way I expect Him to. Can you relate? I even think I can justify my requests, my prayers, by spinning my intentions into something I think that God would approve. Ie: God, I would love to get a raise, so that I can give more back to You // Jesus, please open up this opportunity so that I can do some kind of good for you. But in those requests, I’m telling God how I think it should be, giving Him MY will, not opening up my mind to be willing to move according to HIS will. Here’s my favorite one: God, I’m sacrificing something I want to do, so You’d better bless me for it! Like He’s some kind of cosmic genie that is only around to reward me for good behavior or grant my wishes. (Please tell me you know what I’m talking about!) And it’s not always for selfish reasons. Sometimes we really do have genuine intentions, but we still expect God to reward our good behavior. Example: You make the right choices, according to the rules God has given us. You’ve saved your sexuality for marriage. You’ve been honest, even when it’s cost you. You’ve given your time and money to those who are less fortunate than you. And you expect blessing. You expect God to give you an easier life, to replace what you’ve given away, to move you up the ranks quickly. But would you still love Him if he doesn’t? Would you still give, even if He never replaces what you give away? Would you still wait, even if there’s no promise that He’ll give you what you’re waiting for? Would you still be honest, even if it meant you lost everything?
That’s what it means to let God’s will be done. It means that even if He doesn’t give you what you ask for, you’re still going to follow Him. Even if that promotion never comes, you’ll still honor God in your work. Even if the answer is no, you’re still going to trust that He’s got the whole story written. And trust that His way is better. This is the lesson I’m learning now. I’ve heard myself say things like “well, God BETTER bless me for this sacrifice!” But if we look at Jesus as our example, as we ought to, we see that He never said “Well God, I better have a really nice crown waiting for me in heaven after this whole crucifixion ordeal is over”. His words were “Never the less, not my will but Yours be done”. He was willing to endure all the pain, all the suffering, all the excommunication (which is a bigger deal than we give credit to) for the love of following the Father. Because He understood something we don’t — God’s will is not about us. It’s not about our wish list being fulfilled as we earn merit points by being a good Christian. It’s about God’s plan to save the world. It’s about God’s desire to redeem creation and to draw all back into relationship with Him. Following His will means that we care more about seeing God save the world than we do about God granting our wishes.
Yes, it’s okay to have desires. I desire to have a husband and a family. Those are good things. And to be completely honest, I’m having a very hard time right now understanding why I don’t have those things. Why I’m (nearly) the last of all my friends who is still single. Grappling with the notion that my role in God’s plan to save the world may not involve me having a partner in life or kids. It’s not easy. I catch myself crying out to God, asking why I have to give up on these dreams, yet so many of my friends never had to even entertain the idea of not being married, or being parents.
But it’s part of me learning to live for God’s will, not my own. It’s about remembering that it’s all about Jesus, not all about Stacy. That’s what it means to have Jesus at the center of everything. Words that are so easy to sing in a worship song with beautiful harmonies, but nearly impossible to live. It means letting my own plans go (if you know me, you know this is asking way too much of me) in order to open up my heart and mind enough for God to use me to accomplish His plans. This is a really tough lesson I’m learning. I know I have a lot to learn still, and I’m nowhere near having learned this lesson. But it’s all part of the journey. And hopefully, as I continue on this journey, I’ll be a willing vessel for God to use.