Friday, March 21, 2008

Not Mine

Lately, my calendar has been plagued by an epidemic of last-minute changes; I count 22 reschedulings and cancellations (most on less than 24 hours' notice) since the beginning of February. I tend to take it poorly. My nature gravitates so strongly toward orderly and careful planning that I even get annoyed at pleasant surprises.

Unfortunately, refusing to accept the unchangeable doesn't leave a person any less stuck with it. As God said to Paul in the saint's rebellious days, "It is hard for you to kick against the goads" (Acts 26:14, NIV). The metaphor refers to a sharp-pointed stick, a "goad," that was used to prod animals forward when plowing. As an ox's kicking backward at the annoyance only made the goad stab deeper, so a person's ranting or sulking over the "unfairness" of life only intensifies the pain of disappointment.

More than that, complaining feeds our rebellious nature and steers us toward the dangerous ground of telling God that we know better than He does, or that we don't care what He wants. There's nothing wrong, of course, with praying that things will go "well"--if we phrase such prayers as respectful requests rather than demands, and if we accept that God doesn't owe us anything. Too often, we approach prayer as spoiled brats rather than as humble servants.

The tendency to defy God gets even worse when we do have a choice of whether or not to go through with the whole awful matter. Jesus, Who was "tempted in every way, just as we are" (Heb. 4:15), had His own thoughts of backing out as He stood face to face with the reality that the Cross--the ultimate physical and spiritual agony--was finally imminent. We can never fully appreciate how difficult it was for Him to finally pray, "Not my will, but Yours be done." We do know, however, that had Jesus insisted on His own way instead of putting the Father's will first, we might as well have continued living for worldly pleasure--because we'd have no hope, ever, of anything better.

Jesus accepted the hard parts of God's will for our sake. Do we owe Him any less?

He knelt in the garden grove praying,
His eyes nearly blind with grief
As they looked ahead to the suffering,
And His heart craved a word of relief.
His voice shook with sobs at the vision,
Yet it rang with a note sublime:
"My Father, I long to escape this;
But let it be Your will, not Mine."

Blood mingled with tears as they tumbled
From His eyes to the rocky ground,
While the ones whom He loved slept onward,
So blind to the truth profound;
And He lifted His gaze to the heavens,
His cheeks wet with His tears' sharp brine:
"My Father, is this how it must be?
Then let it be Your will, not Mine."

They came for Him there in the garden,
And led Him away in the night;
He raised not a hand in resistance;
He made not one attempt to fight;
As He writhed in the pain of His death-throes,
His cry rang down the vaults of time:
"My Father, I die for the guilty,
So let it be Your will, not Mine."

His death paid the price to release me;
His pain salved the guilt of my sin;
He calls me His own, and He leads me
In the war He alone can win.
However my pathway seems darkened,
His light from within can shine:
My Savior, whatever the battle,
Please let it be Your will, not mine.

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