“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Whether you are a long time believer or just starting your personal relationship with Christ, the question of “What is God’s will?” certainly hits close to home. If you have ever prayed over a loved one who is dying or stood next to a friend who has lost everything, this question strikes even harder. Having experienced the loss of a parent, I have wrestled with it over and over again myself. My whole heart is hoping that you will keep wrestling with it in your own life and in that process draw closer to the God of truth to find the answers you need.
Amazingly, we do not have a savior who is distant from us or our struggles, but rather one who has experienced the weight of them firsthand. So, in dealing with this tough question, it is best to look at his example and experience with the will of the Father.
In his life on earth, Jesus set a precedent of praying and talking with the Father. In many accounts, he made time to be alone communing with God as well as praying with his disciples and over the masses. In fact, again and again, God calls us to also pray and present our requests to Him with faith and persistence. He is a good Father whose love is unconditional, and He loves to bless and be with His children in relationship.
So what happens we when we come to God in prayer, presenting our hearts, desires and plans, and the response is not what we want or expect?
Before his coming betrayal and the pain that would follow on the road to the cross, Jesus and his disciples went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray, which was a common practice and something quite usual for him. In this place, Jesus asked his disciples to pray and then walked a bit away to talk to God. He presented his request several times saying, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.” Jesus did not want to die or endure all that would come on the cross; remember he was both fully man and fully God.
But, he continues in prayer, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” This is the ultimate surrender and submission! Because of Jesus’ love and obedience to the Father’s plan for man’s redemption, we can have eternal life and personal relationship with God.
Jesus makes this relationship and his choice undeniably clear in John 14:30 saying, “I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” He further explains in John 15:9-13, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Suddenly Proverbs 3:5-6 has a more vibrant, tangible meaning. If we want God to direct our paths, our plans and our futures, then we need to submit to his purposes – just as Christ did. This obedience is not forced and it does not earn our salvation, but its value is nearly indescribable as it leads to closeness and intimacy in our personal relationship with the Lord Almighty!
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