Thy Will Be Done

I came across this quote in my daily devotional. It would have been appropriate for last month’s theme, which has remained on my mind — growing through challenging times. .

“Just as soon as we turn toward Him with loving confidence, and say, ‘Thy will be done,’ whatever chills or cripples or enslaves our spirits, clogs their powers, or hinders their development, melts away in the sunshine of His sympathy. He does not free us from the pain, but from the power to dull the sensibilities; not from the poverty and care, but from their tendency to narrow and harden; not from calumny, but from the maddening poison in its sting; not from disappointment, but from the hopelessness and bitterness of thought which it so often engenders. We attain unto this perfect liberty when we rise superior to untoward circumstances, triumph over the pain and weakness of disease, over unjust criticism, the wreck of earthly hopes, over promptings to envy, every sordid and selfish desire, every unhallowed longing, every doubt of God’s wisdom and love and kindly care, when we rise into an atmosphere of undaunted moral courage, of restful content, of child-like trust, of holy, all-conquering calm.”

William W. Kinsley

For more on this topic see:

The Prayer that Never Fails

A Book about Surrender

Fanning the Flame #6–Seeking God’s Will

Stay Calm

I just finished chapter 10 in my lectio divina reading of Ecclesiastes, and here’s what stands out for me:

“…calmness will lay great offenses to rest.”  Ecclesiastes 1o:4b

Calmness is a rare quality in our world today.  We not only want to say what we think, we want to say it NOW! Even worse, we want to put it out there for the world to see– on Facebook or Twitter, or whatever other social media option is readily available to us.  The upshot is many people are offended with one another.  I know so many relatives and friends who have “blocked” one another due to unpleasant social media exchanges that are ill advised, and often trivial. Do we really have to get nasty and worked up about our allegiance to a sports team?  Or even a political party or candidate?  Is it necessary to demonize everyone who disagrees with us?  Even when we are right about an issue, demeaning our opponents will never bring them around to our way of thinking.

So, stay calm.  That means, think before you speak (or text). Use your manners.  Respect others.  You know, the rules they taught us in elementary school?  The Bible teaches them too.  Think about these other verses:

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!  Fret not yourself, it tends only to evil.”  Psalm 37:8

 

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”  Proverbs 15:18

 

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

I read once that nuturing anger is like drinking poison in the hopes that the person who upset you will die.  Don’t poison yourself.  Quell those angry words.  Say a prayer– remember you are a sinner, too!  Surrender those feelings to God and allow Jesus to calm the storm.  Ask yourself, do I want to escalate this argument?  Spoil this relationship? Would I want Jesus to hear these words or read this text?  It’s probably not worth it.  So just stay calm.  You’ll be glad you did.

For more on anger see these posts:

Unoffendable

What Should I Do When I am Angry?

Are You Angry?

 

 

Time and Chance

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swft, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.”  Ecclesiastes 9:11

In continuing my lectio divina study of Ecclesiastes, “time and chance happen to them all” stood out for me.  It’s hard to give up control, to surrender to God.  However, as I read somewhere recently “we live the life God planned for us, not the life we planned.”

We may work hard, we may be talented, we may be intelligent.  We may have advanced degrees, a hefty inheritance or a wealth of friends.  We may write a best-selling novel, star in a movie or become CEO of a multi-national company.  None of those things can protect us from “time and chance” which can change our lives in an instant.  Remember the parable of the foolish rich man in Luke? (Luke 12:16-21). His crop was so bountiful, he decided to build more barns to house it in.  He thought he was set for life.  Unfortunately his time ran out:

“… God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?””Luke 12:26

The moral, of course, is not to give up planning, but to hold our plans loosely;  to be attentive to God’s leading;  to be ready to follow His path instead of our own.  As author Ann Patchett puts it:

“Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook what you find.”

Time and chance will derail our plans, but they won’t derail God’s plan for us.  In fact they will reveal it.  Trust, obey, surrender.

For more on the book of Ecclesiastes see:

A Time for Everything

Do Not Be Rash With Your Mouth

Two Are Better Than One

 

A Book about Surrender

Barefoot, by Sharon Garlough Brown is the third in her Sensible Shoes series.  The subtitle is:  A Story of Surrendering to God.  In this book,  readers follow the same four women already introduced as they navigate a variety of losses.

It’s a story about death, but not only physical death.  Relationships also die, jobs end, children grow up.  Even wonderful new experiences such as getting married or having a baby, involve loss.  We may lose some privacy or independence.  We may have to revise the image we have of ourselves.  We need to make compromises.  We find we must die to the person we were before.  It’s important for each of us to name and grieve our losses as we practice discerning and surrendering to God’s will for our life.

Every reader will find some situation with which they can identify, if not right now, then in the past.  The characters illustrate the struggle involved in spiritual growth, as they face and deal with the same sinful tendencies again and again in different ways.  Progress is often slow, but easier with friends who understand, pray and share the journey.

Sprinkled throughout the book are spiritual exercises which include a bible reading, questions for personal reflection and for group reflection.  I have been using them for journaling, but the book would also be well-suited to read and study with a book club or study group.

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  This series just gets better and better!  Try to read them in order if you can — here are the first two:

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review

Two Steps Forward by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review

 

 

 

A Poem of Surrender

Milton was going blind when he wrote this Sonnet.  He was wondering how he could continue his work.  Would he be able to serve and glorify God any longer?  Would he be rebuked by God for not completing his task?  The answer of course, is that God doesn’t need our works– what He wants is our surrender to His will.

Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent

When I consider how my light is spent,
   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
   And that one Talent which is death to hide
   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest he returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
   They also serve who only stand and wait.
For more about John Milton see:

Surrendering Every Day

This is a quote from my daily devotional:

“No trouble is too small wherein to see the will of God for thee.  Great troubles come but seldom.  Daily fretting trials, that is, what of thyself would fret thee, may often in God’s hands, conform thee more to His gracious will.  They are the daily touches, whereby He traces on thee the likeness of His divine will.  There is nothing too slight wherein to practise oneness with the will of God.  By daily practice in slight crosses of our own will, do we learn the lesson our Lord taught, “Not as I will, but as Thou.”  All the things whereof men daily complain may perfect thee in the will of God.  The changes of seasons, bodily discomforts or ailments, rude words, petty slights, little jealousies, unevenness of temper in those with whom thou livest, misunderstandings, censures of thy faith or practice, severe judgements, thanklessness of those thou wouldest benefit, interruptions in what thou wouldest do, oppressiveness or distraction of they labors,– whatever thou canst think of, wherein others fret themselves, and still more, thyself;  therein thou seest how to be of one will with God.

Edward B. Pusey

For more quotes by Edward Pusey see:

Clothed With Christ

Victorious Faith

 

 

 

New Month/New Theme

A good part of my reading this recently has had to do with the idea of surrendering to God.  Not an easy concept to grasp, especially in our society.  We value individualism and like to believe that we can control our life through things like hard work, education, or persistence.  The Bible turns all of that upside down.  Instead of “looking our for number one”  we’re to “count others more significant than yourself.”(Philippians 2:3).  Instead of “following our bliss” we’re to become a “living sacrifice.”(Romans 12:1) Instead of stroking our own ego, we’re to “put on Christ.”(Galatians 3:27)

Even if we truly want to live a Biblical lifestyle, how do we actually do these things?  Can we ever really surrender ourselves, all that we have, all that we value to God?  Can we trust Him that much?

These are the ideas we’ll be exploring this month.  Stay tuned to see what you can apply to your own life.  Can you surrender all?  Or even some?

What to Change

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