I have found one of the unending aspects of parenting is moving your child to accepting the distinction of authority in the adult-child relationship. (AKA: Obedience.) We went through about a two week period where Grace was in a constant state of defiance. Every time I gave her directions I braced for battle against the rebellious nature of my four year old. But the other day we had an interesting engagement.
“Grace we need to leave in a few minutes. I expect you to clean up your toys right now and get your shoes on.” As I said it I braced for battle. But to my surprise, rather than a fit of “I don’t wanna!” This is what I received: “Yes, Mama. I understand you.” She said this in a sweet and accepting tone and began the tasks assigned. No fight, no battle, no tears, no negative consequences…. Just acceptance.
I wondered at how often I take the posture of acceptance toward my Father in Heaven. How often do I rebel against Him, and insist on “My will be done” rather than “Thy will be done.”
When we pray The Lord’s Prayer there is a reason we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And there is a reason it comes following “Our father, who art in Heaven. Hallowed be thy name.” If you remember from the last posting we talked about how The Lord’s Prayer is mainly a prayer of adoration. It begins with adoration so that we set our hearts on Him. But once our hearts are set on Him, we next have to move our hearts to acceptance. This is what we are surrendering to when we pray: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
This posture of prayer is where you get to let go of your will, your desires, your plans, for your way! [SIGH!] “Letting go!” Not an easy thing for we “control-freaks!” (AKA: Spiritually rebellious toddlers?) (BTW if you are not counting yourself as one of those… you are probably in denial!) You know, in spite of the battle for obedience with our children, most kids actually accept adult authority. But there are those kids who are in a state of rabid rebellion. I would suggest spiritually speaking we are a lot more like the rebel child than the obedient one! It is this prayer of acceptance with Our Father that is meant to heal that state of rebellion. It is here we get to lay down the burden of thinking we “know” how things ought to be— of telling God what you want—i.e. how to do his job. (Who out there is good at telling God how to do His job? Raise your hand if that’s you— I know my hand shouldn’t be the only one raised! And don’t worry no one can see you right now anyway!)
The “Thy will” prayer is central to overcoming our inner rebel child and placing God in His rightful seat of authority over our life. It’s in acceptance that we say “You’re God, I’m not.” It is here where we actively trust His promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know in all things God works for the good.” In true acceptance we trust in his voice that says “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you” (Jer 29:11)
But acceptance is also the place where we find His guidance. We are constantly asking how to find God’s will— and it’s right here in the “Thy will prayer.” Because it’s here that we stop asking for what we want— and we start asking: Lord, What would you like me to do? What would please you? Thy will, Father!
Every day is filled with God’s guidance for your life and His call to obedience. Are you listening, understanding in a state of acceptance… or are you in a state of utter rebellion in some aspect of your life? Whatever state of rebellion your spirit is in, I challenge you to dive into acceptance. Bring your pain, your anger, your disappointments, and your frustrations before the Lord and place them on the alter of acceptance— understanding maybe not the fullness of His ways… but the fullness of His sovereignty, His wisdom, and His love. With that kind of acceptance you will find freedom, guidance and joy.
If you want to know how you can do this, look no further than your savior, Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. I ask you to look here not to see Jesus as your example—but as your bridge. What do I mean? Isn’t Jesus’ submission in the garden the ultimate example to us for how we should submit to God’s will? Yes…. and No. We cannot just look at Jesus as an example to follow. We must go deeper than that. If we simply look at Jesus as an example then what is a real motivation? “I should do it because He did.” If you go beneath that statement it is motivated by duty, legalism or works. It is really still relying on “my” efforts. It is the heart of the “self-salvation project.” So we have to move beyond “Jesus is our example.” Where does that take us?
Jesus’ “thy will” prayer gives us more than an example to follow, it gives us a foundation upon which to trust God. Jesus himself literally became that bridge of trust. Because Jesus submitted with acceptance to His Father’s will, took the cross, and with it all the pain, evil and suffering of the world— because he was literally crushed for us, we now KNOW that when we submit to His authority we will not be crushed. We will be given LIFE.
You see… It is not “I should do it because He did.”
It is “I can do it because of what He did.”
I can submit without fear.
I can trust God.
I can accept His authority and sovereignty over my life…
I can lay down “my will” and know I will not be crushed.
Jesus is the reason we can accept whatever God places before us! He is the bridge of trust to the Father. He is “The way, the truth and the life.” The Father said to the Son: “If you hold on to your life, they will lose theirs, but if you let go of your life, they will keep theirs. There is no other way… You are the way.”
You know “the way”—It’s Jesus. He is the bridge of trust between you and the Father. He is the way. You can cross that bridge.
You know “the truth”—It’s Jesus. Because Jesus laid down his life, God will not crush yours. He is the truth. The truth is that you can trust God.
You know the “life”— It’s Jesus. On the other side of your acceptance— on the other side of the bridge Jesus became— is your freedom, it is your very life gained because of His loss. He is the life. Because of Him you can have life.
When the heart sees this then everything shifts. It is no longer about “my effort” to follow Jesus. It is an opening that allows me to step out onto the way, standing firm on the truth and finding life. It is crossing the bridge Jesus became and accepting the divine authority of my heavenly Father. Because of Jesus I can… I can do it because of what He did… not I should do it because He did.
You see “can” connotes a choice, a freedom, an ability, a relinquishment of control that “should” never will— because “should” still puts me and my effort in control. You see, because Jesus let go of His life, I can let go of mine… and receive the LIFE that God wants for me. A life far better than anything I could imagine.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Relinquish “My will” and give it up to “Thy will.” Like Gracie say: “Yes, Lord. I understand you.” And find LIFE!