Why is it that so many are so quick to substitute false promises in the place of true ones? To substitute our own will in the place of God’s?
Look at the promises we have from God. They are so many. Here’s a few, and this is just a brief, non-exhaustive list:
Supplication (Phil 4:19)
Sufficiency of His grace (2 Cor 12:9)
Help with temptation (1 Cor 10:13)
Victory over Death (1 Cor 15:7)
A Master Plan for our life (Romans 8:28)
Forgiveness can be granted (Mark 16:16)
Eternal Life (John 10:27-28)
And these are just a few that I summarized from another list. And there are many more. And yet, instead of dwelling on these wonderful promises, we (I) often tend to make promises up on our own, as suits the situation, according to what we need or are experiencing.
I haven’t felt very well today. I chose to rest today, to let my body keep up to my recent pace. Which brings me to the first of the two areas that I constantly see, hear, or read about being misstated in regards to Christians seeking the will of God.
–Are you sick? It is easy to think that God promises physical healing, but in reality, He promises that He will always be with us no matter what happens. Sometimes he marvelously takes care of our earthly illness, but unless the Lord fetches us – we gotta get to heaven one way or another. And sickness sometimes is a vehicle to the eternal healing – however I manage to get into my heaven, I’ll be beyond-words-grateful to be there! When I was younger, I would “claim” healing. My prayers would almost be a demand from God when I prayed for myself or someone else. I shudder when I think about praying arrogantly to an all-powerful God. I may not be wise, but I’m nominally smart now that when I pray for the sick, I still pray for healing – you bet…But I recognize that I don’t understand God’s will in every situation. So my prayer for the sick is, “Father heal them, but even more importantly, “thy will be done,” especially when my will isn’t in tune with the Father. I’ve been chastised for praying for God’s will instead of for complete healing for someone. Who am I to know the will of God? May God not call me home til I am 105 years old. But if He does when I am 45, in his perfect plan, praise the Lord (Lord, if you’re reading this, please wait til I’m older!). Some of the most spiritually rich people in history have been physically ill.
-Are you poor? Well, you don’t have to look very far to hear or see preachers saying that your poverty will end! That promotion is on the way! The car is coming! You’ll enlarge your worth. Again, this is false promises. The Scripture teaches over and over again that there are far greater blessings than material gain. This one really gets my goose, because it is such…an…obvious…lie that American christians hang their hat on. Again, sometimes the Lord may choose to bless us materially – whether that be financially, career-wise, or whatever. I believe in many cases, He chooses to bless some in order to bless others. But these material blessings pale in comparison to the blessings of the kingdom. How can we believe for a second that God promises us earthly gain when Jesus so clearly states for us…”Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21). Some of the most spiritually rich people in history have been poor.
I was recently asked, very privately, if it was ok to pray for the Lord to take someone. They were referring to someone was very old, very ill, and in an immense amount of pain. I inferred that this person was deciding whether or not to feel guilty for not having enough “faith” and “believing” that this person could be healed. I mentioned times in my own experiences where the death of someone who was in pain or who had lost many things in life was as much as a relief as it was a matter of grief. We’ve all known someone who we didn’t understand why they were suffering for such a long period of time. I think it is as appropriate for us to pray “Lord, take them” in these cases as it is for us to pray “Lord, let us keep them a while longer” in other cases. Regardless, not our will, but His – even when we don’t understand it.
God knows, if one of my precious children are sick, I will pray, pray, and pray more. I will relate my will to the Father as often as I can. But whether concerning my health (or someone else’s), or my lot in life, financially speaking (or someone else’s), we must realize that there is always a “Will” that is higher and greater than ours. Sometimes, our will may be the same as God’s in a situation. But just as often (or more often, it seems), God has a different plan, a different way of doing things, and a different timetable than we have. And instead of being concerned of enforcing our will upon God, we should be about surrendering our will to His. Even when it is difficult. These are easy words to type, and difficult ones to experience on a personal level. But He will help us. He will be all the things He says that He is to us. May God bless each of us to never have to put this lesson to the test – the lesson of surrendering our will to God even in the gravest of situations. But many of us have experienced this, and some of us will one day. Which brings us back to relying upon God in the first place.
Even Jesus Christ surrendered His will to the Father as recorded in the scripture. He put the will of the Father ahead of even His own – “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39).
If Jesus Christ modeled the submission of will to the Father, then we as Christians need to acknowledge that we need to do it way more often than we do, on a daily basis. And I believe we will become more like Him, and more attuned to His will as we begin to experience what it truly is in our lives. Sometimes, as Daniel did, we may be led to pray for the same thing for a long period of time. But at other times, sometimes we might need to do a self-examination, and see if we are pursuing God’s will, or our own. The person who claims to know God’s will the most is often the person who sees it accomplished the least in their life. Surrender to Him, and Him only!