by MALINDA FULLER
“He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’” (Luke 22:41-42, NLT)
I have to admit that when Jesus’ obedience works for my benefit, it’s easier to accept.
If I’m talking about salvation, I have no problem partaking in His obedience, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. But when it comes to a child’s health, or if a young parent’s life hangs in the balance, or when disasters strike the most vulnerable, I want to question God’s methods, timing and plan.
That might sound contemptuous, but haven’t we all wrestled with this question: Why has this bad thing happened to such a good person?
And I struggle with praying for God’s will to be done.
I’ve offered up prayers asking God for His will to be done, only to later retract them when God’s way doesn’t seem to match my pace, or when His ideas mess up my perfectly crafted plan, or He doesn’t come through the way I anticipate, pray or plead for. I’m often left shaking my head — curious if God missed something along the way.
Maybe that’s what Martha and Mary thought as their brother lay on his deathbed, and Jesus, aware of Lazarus’ condition, didn’t rush to His friend’s bedside. Perhaps Jairus, whose daughter also lay dying, similarly questioned Jesus’ seeming lack of urgency as He allowed her life to slip away.
The Father’s will and agenda was Jesus’ priority — not seeking others’ approval, not rushing to accomplish more miracles in His limited time on earth. He wasn’t frantically traveling to every village. Unlike many of us, Jesus didn’t fall into the trap of needing to do “all the things.”
It’s hard to imagine waiting instead of moving, and yet, Jesus often did. He had all the answers, power and ability to turn back time and hold death at bay simultaneously, and yet — He didn’t. Because Jesus was serious when He offered up the prayer, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine’” (Luke 22:42b).
How many of our prayers does God answer when we impatiently demand Him to, versus when He deems the time is right? How often does He wait to respond until the moment when His power can be best revealed? How many dreams does God plan to resurrect, perhaps after they’re dead and forgotten, as He’s merely waiting for us to surrender — to stop trying to solve all the problems ourselves?
We ache to have a baby and start our family, but the child God has for us won’t be born for another five years.
We want a financial blessing, but He wants us to learn stewardship with the little He’s placed in our hands.
We desire influence over the masses, but He points to our home, our neighbors, our workplace — where the recognition will be little, but the fruit will be ripe.
While God may want to give us all of these things, we expect to tell Him exactly how and when plans should unfold, instead of opening our hands and acknowledging His vantage point is better.
John records Jesus’ words, explaining that “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19b, NIV).
Jesus’ radical, continual and humble submission to the ways and will of His Father is the greatest example of what it means to fully obey. What would happen if, when we came to God with our list of requests, we opened our hands and prayed like Jesus did: “Not my will, but Yours be done” …?
Father God, thank You for giving the perfect example of what obedience means — in Jesus. Thank You for His radical gift in surrendering His life in the greatest act of obedience. Help me today to hear and know Your voice and to willingly obey whatever You are asking me — without arguing, begging or trying to convince You that I know what’s best. I want to surrender, to choose obedience, and see Your will be done — instead of my own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.