While randomly reading in the book “Prayer” by Philip Yancey I had a revelation. It came to me while in Chapter 8 which is titled Partnership where Philip talks about how God gives away power and how most of the time God gives it to us imperfect humans. I like Yancey because his writings usually do not answer the questions the book is trying to answer but rather he leaves us, the readers, asking more questions than when we started. Actually I find when dealing with God the answers are actually simple but we have this innate ability to complicate things and we seek complex answers.
Philip starts a paragraph with “Jesus prayed Your Will be Done…” and reading that phrase which is so well know turned on a light bulb in my head. You should have seen it, light out of my ears, my nose and both eyes. What I read and the inspiration I had was that God has will and exercises will. This was a high level concept above the obvious that Jesus dying was part of God’s plan for all mankind. This was/is God’s ability to think creatively and to make conscious choices. This means God could have made the choice to spare Jesus from dying on the cross.
As I often say I like to do word research and so I looked up the word “will.” The word will in this context is a noun and it is not being used as a verb (at least as I understand English) and the 1828 Webster’s dictionary says of will…That faculty of the mind by which we determine either to do or forbear an action; the faculty which is exercised in deciding, among two or more objects, which we shall embrace or pursue. The will is directed or influenced by the judgment. Simply stated will is choice, choosing which path to take or which action will arrive at the best conclusion.
I refer here back to the word Love and the only time I have heard it properly defined by the Bible teacher Winkie Pratney from New Zealand. Love is choosing the others highest good. Let me repeat that for emphasis, Love is choosing the others highest good. Jesus, and God, chose the others highest good, our highest good for by dying on the cross Jesus paid the price to free us from death.
Now all of that makes for a nice sermon and altar call and so forth but I am writing this at the time of a pandemic with some saying we are entering wave two and others saying we are still in the first wave. Personally I think we are still in the first wave but were really hoping we could ease up and get a life back. My topic is where is God during this time and what is going on? I think Jesus saying to His Father not my will but your will during His darkest hour is saying that God is present with us in our dark hours that exist today.
A danger we all face is losing sight that God is present with us in the present, in our future (day by day) and He has been with us in our past. The passage where Jesus prays is found in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Matt 26:36-46: Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. “Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
Here Jesus displays His closeness and love for His Father in Heaven even though he is surrounded by us mere mortals, including the one who will betray Him and still Jesus prayed for the highest good, the cost of which would lead Jesus to be tortured, tried and executed for a crime He was innocent of.
What did I, or any of us, do to deserve this pandemic of a virus that is so small we basically have to view it on a sub-microscopically level? Where is God when jobs are lost, families are torn apart by having to isolate by having this dreaded fear of an unseen enemy on the attack? I love the illustration about how the devil works. If we answered our door and the devil in a red suit with a tail, horns and a pitchfork showed up we would resist and fight him. But our enemy, this same devil, puts on the Ritz (very old term most young people will not understand, comes calling with a really smooth sales pitch, we are at a loss as to what is going on.
My conclusion is that God does exercise will and does make His choice based on His will. Further, His will is our Highest good; a sign of His love for you and me. As Philip Yancey leaves readers with more questions than they started with I leave you with unanswered questions. I do not know why we are stuck in a pandemic, why many hundreds and thousands are getting sick and dying, why the world seems like all madness has broken loose (no, I did not touch on politics, Black Lives Matter, civil war monuments, foreign policy, and our president) but I know God and I have a relationship with Him personally even though I most often fail in my part of the partnership.
Call of Him, snuggle up close to Him, put Him forefront in your mind is where I suggest starting. Then, and only then, keep walking one step at a time, one day at a time.