I wrote this for Deeper Water's Ministry Blog as well. It's a piece on the book, The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith.
I remember, even though I was a small child, sitting through our annual summer revivals – the church would be packed for the week long visit from a traveling evangelist. Women with hats bobbing and swaying to the rhythmic sound of the minister’s hoop as he crescendos to a close usually centered around the fact that Jesus was coming back and soon…Then, the alter call. And tearfully, grown men and women would head toward the outstretched hand of the minister warning against eternity outside of God’s grace. These conversion stories always moved me. Lost sons and daughters redeemed by a loving Savior.
But not me. I got saved when I was 5 years old. Which is code for: I did all my sinning while I was saved. My biggest obstacle in this journey has not been giving my life to Christ. That was a done deal from very early on. My difficulty, as is the title and theme of Chapter 7, was in submitting my will to His. Particularly, I think, for women who are raised in this day and age and kind of groomed to achieve and dream big dreams of what we want for our lives, this can be a challenge.
I remember adults asking me my entire youth what I wanted to do when I grew up. They encouraged me to follow my heart when it came to decisions about where I’d go to college, or what career I’d pursue or who I would marry. And for so long I got stuck there trying to follow My heart and My dreams. And when I prayed, it wasn’t “Thy will be done” it was always, “Lord please let My will be done.“
Whitall Smith says “It is not the feelings of the man God wants, but the man himself.”*** And thankfully, He pursues us relentlessly so that we are not left to our own devices and limited to the smallness of our dreams. God has exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or think waiting for us when we release our will and embrace His will. But often we’ve worked so hard for our dreams and waited so long for our plans that we don’t want to give them up. Especially for His will which may not be what we had in mind, or worse, an undisclosed will that requires us to wait and just trust in His plan. Ick…Waiting is the worst!!!
Yet, God is asking us to release our plans and like Indiana Jones in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, we approach the alter and instead of trading our will for His, we bargain, “Lord, I’ll trust you with that, but I’m going to hold on to this.” And we try to offer the counterfeit idols of our heart on the alter and fakes are found wanting…the stone lowers, and a giant rock comes to crush us. Ok, sometimes the giant rock is actual something else that gets our attention…perhaps an illness or loss… and when it’s all been stripped away, then He presents His will as an alternative to the Path of Me. I realize now there was only ever One way; His way. All other roads were a distraction. His will is where I can stop chasing my plans and rest in the knowledge that I am walking in the good deeds He set in advance for me to do. Daily dying to my emotions and the lies of the enemy bent on my distraction and destruction…Daily praying, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done.” Amen