And going a little farther, [Jesus] threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Matthew 26:39
Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Thou art the potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.” (Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1902)
My mother would describe me as the daughter (one of three) who will “argue with a stop sign.” As for how I describe myself, I would say, “I’m sure of what I want.” It’s all about perspective, but it really isn’t. As I look back over some recent decisions of mine, one decision stands out that illustrates how I keep learning the spiritual lesson: “God’s will, not mine.”
I moved from Nashville to take a therapist job in Philadelphia. It didn’t work out. I moved away after just one year. However, it wasn’t the job as much as the decision that was not God’s will for me. How do I know (aside from the fact that I resigned after one year)? Because the red flags were up long before the move. First, they did not want to pay for a hotel for my interview. Next, I missed my plane—oh, by several hours, not minutes. Then they said they would pay for the move in advance. It didn’t happen. But the Burger Queen in me who wants to “have it my way” just kept pushing through. Did I stop, become still, and pray? Did I get spiritual direction from my many God-centered friends? Did I even stop and think? No. No. and No.
Anyway, you get my point. I paid the consequences for pushing ahead without taking time to listen for God or paying attention to the “stop signs” that continued to stand in front of me.
Lent ends this week. This is Holy Week. In I read how Jesus prayed three times to be released from his mission, but at the end he surrendered to God’s will. However, I am more like the disciples than I am like Jesus—sleeping rather than praying, especially when the outcome is critical; acting impulsively like Peter rather than waiting, especially when it matters most. Like Peter, I insist to Jesus that I know what to do. And like my mother who knew her child, Jesus, who knew Peter’s spirit, tells Peter that he will deny knowing Jesus very soon.
Year after year I sit with God for (almost) 40 days, listening for the peace that comes from waiting on the Lord. Getting the spiritual part is pretty easy. Fast from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Pray at 8:00 every night. Read an inspiring devotion every day. Journal about my reflections. Well, it’s not easy, but it’s doable. But it’s really hard when it’s time to live the spiritual lesson. When life comes fast, when an opportunity comes that looks good at first glance, when it’s easier to “go along” to “get along,” trusting God’s will is not so easy. I go to sleep, like Peter, then jump into action—the wrong action. And then, repentant, I pray and then wait to hear the will of God. I know that being in God’s will does not mean I will not suffer, but the outcome will be transforming rather than crushing, because it is God’s will for my life. That is the spiritual lesson I keep trying to learn. “Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting yielded and still.”
Final Lenten Meditations for Daniel