Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
– Luke 22:39-44
“Jerusalem, in the life of our Lord, represents the place where He reached the culmination of His Father’s will. Jesus said, “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). Seeking to do “the will of the Father” was the one dominating concern throughout our Lord’s life. And whatever He encountered along the way, whether joy or sorrow, success or failure, He was never deterred from that purpose. “…He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…” (Luke 9:51).
“The greatest thing for us to remember is that we go up to Jerusalem to fulfill God’s purpose, not our own. In the natural life our ambitions are our own, but in the Christian life we have no goals of our own. We talk so much today about our decisions for Christ, our determination to be Christians, and our decisions for this and that, but in the New Testament the only aspect that is brought out is the compelling purpose of God. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…” (John 15:16).
“We are not taken into a conscious agreement with God’s purpose— we are taken into God’s purpose with no awareness of it at all. We have no idea what God’s goal may be; as we continue, His purpose becomes even more and more vague. God’s aim appears to have missed the mark, because we are too nearsighted to see the target at which He is aiming. At the beginning of the Christian life, we have our own ideas as to what God’s purpose is. We say, “God means for me to go over there,” and, “God has called me to do this special work.” We do what we think is right, and yet the compelling purpose of God remains upon us. The work we do is of no account when compared with the compelling purpose of God. It is simply the scaffolding surrounding His work and His plan. “He took the twelve aside…” (Luke 18:31). God takes us aside all the time. We have not yet understood all there is to know of the compelling purpose of God.”
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
I wrote two nights ago about my wife and posted yesterday. As I wrote about my prayers regarding her surgery, I thought of saying the common phrase, “Yet not my will, but thine be done.” I thought that I would get people calling, commenting, and tsk tsking from afar. After all, when there is major surgery going on, you must stay positive and not express any doubt. You must be strong so that the one who is enduring the surgery can gain from your strength. Yet, I have no strength other than from God, and for that I must remain in His will.
I thought I was taking the high road by being strong and avoiding the less likely event that things would not go well. After all, there are countless hundreds praying.
But the above devotion from Chambers’ powerful book was my nightly reading as soon as I had finished the draft of the post about my wife.
God was saying, “Do not avoid the topic.”
We pray for miracle cures. We pray for healing. Some exercise religiously (word not used completely in jest) to stay healthy so that we can live longer. We always have one more goal, one more trip to make, one more person to hug. I have friends that try to get me to join them in their latest fad diet. I know that I should lose weight, but I fear the fad diet is just as unhealthy.
But what are we trying to avoid? We are trying to avoid death, but we believe that Jesus gave us victory over death. How can that not be the ultimate in hypocrisy?
Don’t get me wrong. I will pray fervently that my wife gets through the surgery and the subsequent recovery. I will pray that my wife gets healthy enough to have the gall bladder surgery that started all this mess and recover from that as well.
Yet, not my will, but thine be done. Lord, Your plan is a wise plan. My plan is selfish, but oh, Lord, I beg You. Why would I not want my wife to be bathed in glory, the ultimate victor? But, oh Lord, not yet. I can speak of being alone without her, but I am never alone with You by my side, Dear Precious Lord. But for now, she and I are one flesh, and she is as much a part of this blog as I am. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.