Tuesday, June 30, 2009

With a Will

Ever felt like there's something that God is probably trying to tell you and you can't deny it because it pops up all over the place? Like He's trying to get our attention. It's as if He just keeps showing it to me in different yet undeniably similar ways until I finally realize that He really is speaking (even if indirectly). I had yet another experience like that this month. And since these types of blog posts really end up being something of a personal devotion, it seems like a good place to talk about it.

I've been going through some tough things the past month or so. Don't get me wrong, God is good. I am so blessed. But like anyone else, I have my issues - things with which I struggle. In particular, lately the Lord seems to be addressing with me the issue of my will.

Over the past few years I have been reading (though off and on) The Christian's Secret of A Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith. It's so rich, such a spiritual feast, that you can only read a little bit of it at a time. I picked it up again a few days ago. A much marked-on piece of notebook paper (acting as a bookmark) was placed in a chapter titled "Difficulties Concerning the Will." In that chapter the authoress talks about how when we feel lost and helpless, like we'll never be able to totally surrender this or that to Christ and His keeping and His perfect plan, therein lies the problem. What we feel we can or cannot do or aren't doing correctly or whatever the case may be doesn't matter as much as what we WILL to do. It's what we choose to do. I don't know how many times I've said to my mother, "But it doesn't FEEL like I've [insert spiritual/emotional struggle here]." Whether surrendering something to Christ or any other issue...Emotions are not always totally truthful, especially in tricky, intangible areas such as surrendering things to God. Let me show you some clips from Hannah Smith's book explaining what I mean.

"And now, dear Christian, let me show you how to apply this principle to your difficulties. Cease to consider your emotions [in such spiritual uncertainties], for they are only the servants; and regard simply your will, which is the real king in your being. Is that given up to God? Is that put into His hands? Does your will decide to believe? Does your will choose to obey? If this is the case, then you are in the Lord's hands, and you decide to believe, and you choose to obey; for your will is yourself. And the thing is done. The transaction with God is as real, when only your will acts, as where every emotion coincides..."

"When, then, this feeling of unreality or hypocrisy comes, do not be troubled by it....Only see to it that your will is in God's hands, that your inward self is abandoned to His working, that your choice, your decision, is on His side; and there leave it. Your surging emotions, like a tossing vessel at anchor, which by degrees yields to the steady pull of the cable, finding themselves attached to the might power of God and by the choice of your will, must inevitably come into captivity, and give in their allegiance to Him..."

However, that is not to say that we are to ignore all emotion.
Thank God for emotions - they were created by Him and are a gift to us as beings created in His image. However, I don't always understand them and they don't always seem to know what they're doing.

Much in the same way, Smith says we still have a will.

"But do not let us make a mistake here. I say we must "give up" our wills, but I do not mean we are to be left will-less. We are not so to give up our wills as to be left like limp nerveless creatures, without any will at all. We are simply to substitute for our foolish, misdirected wills of ignorance and immaturity, the higher, divine mature will of God. If we lay the emphasis on the word "our," we shall understand it better. The will we are to give up is our will, as it is misdirected, and so parted off from God's will, not our will when it is one with God's will; for when our will is in harmony with His will, when it has the stamp of oneness with Him, it would be wrong for us to give it up."

A few days after reading this, I found the following quote on a friend's Facebook page.

"...the heart set to do the Father's will need never fear defeat." --Elizabeth Elliot

Anything is possible with God - never more so than when our hearts are totally given over to Him and His will.

And finally, during a sermon that I listened to online (we had been traveling that particular weekend), our pastor spent some time discussing our will and God's. He said that "God's will is inevitable..." (not talking about predestination versus free will - that's a different topic for a different time). Continuing, he explained further; if we keep our focus on Christ, if we keep Him in the center of our lives, if we are surrendered to Him, then we can just watch and see God's fulfillment of prayers and pleas, dreams and hopes...In His perfect timing, and in His perfect way.


Mada said...

After reading this, I feel oddly reprimanded, yet somehow reassured. Thanks for that. :-) Really good post.

WildWeazel said...

Thanks for sharing. That's some powerful stuff, and a bit convicting. I am, and have been for some time, struggling with a matter of will that has left me confused and uncertain- not because I am unwilling to submit to God's will, but because I do not know what it is and am hesitant to trust my own desires.

NotMyOwn said...

Adam: Thanks! :-) I know how you feel - it was rather similar for me when I read that chapter, though I think the excitement and happiness of finding an answer to that dilemma outweighed the guilt from the reprimand. :-) It's not easy, but it's SO good!

WW: I know exactly what you mean. When I first read your comment, my reaction was, "What can I say to that? I know exactly what he's feeling and I have no clue what to do about it." But after thinking about it, the quote from my pastor came back, and I think that's the key. If I focus on Him, and pursue - with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength - God and getting to know Him and His ways better, then God's will is inevitable. Another thing someone told me once - God gives us desires. Not sinful passions and desires, of course, but other desires and passions - life desires and longings. So, I think that's the idea. If we are in Christ and truly have given Him our will and are ready to do whatever He has for us...then if the door is open, and you still have that desire and don't feel God telling you "no," then I'd say go for it. If that's not where you're supposed to be, He will let you know! If we are totally in Him, surrendered to Him, and wanting Him to guide us, then He will open and close doors. The door He opens, walk through; the doors He closes, don't try to bust open. I think that those sorts of desires are often from God, ones that He gives us to help direct us in life to pursuits, people, and places where He wants us and where we will truly be content, because it's where we were designed to be.

Wooow, that turned out to be long...Sorry! It was really more "thinking out loud," in a way...

WildWeazel said...

Thanks for the thoughts, I needed that :) Now if only it were as easy as it is simple...

NotMyOwn said...

Yeah, I know...