In HOPE
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David Timms 

Issue 5.15

Ministry Resource

Two months ago, I mentioned a new book by David Benner,  Desiring God's Will. I've had a chance to read it and my commentary this week emerges from my reflections on the book. Benner has produced another wonderful gift for the Christian community.

HOPE Happenings

Summer is here. The Memorial Day weekend marks a shift in gears here at the University, too. This week we begin Summer Blocks (intensives) here at HOPE, with students arriving from many states for further ministry preparation.

My Will Be Done

The two-year-old within me is alive and well, despite 40+ intervening years. At first, I learned some basic motor skills that let me control things. I discovered I could hold and drop objects at will. Before long I learned other skills (tantrums and strong-willed defiance) that let me control people. I got my way (often) and I've enjoyed the feeling ever since.  

 

I'm much more subtle these days. No crying fits, and much less pouting. I don't make nearly as many scenes in shopping centers, and I rarely stomp my feet.

 

But the two-year-old is alive and well within me - and possibly within you, too.

 

Willfulness - wanting and demanding that our will be done - is a symptom of our fallenness. And the implications for our lives, and especially our spiritual journey, run deep.

 

When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Nevertheless not my will be done, but Thine" (Lk 22.42), it sounded like the words of defeat. "All is lost. I can't get my way; so, I guess You win." Instead, He repeated the theme of His life, with words that open the door to real vitality. His life, contrary to ours, had modeled this truth constantly.

 

Earlier in His ministry, He taught His disciples to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt 6.10). But it's no simple prayer. The journey from "My will" to "Thy will" is no Sunday-afternoon stroll.

 

Our willfulness expresses itself in so many ways - anger when our plans are threatened or thwarted, manipulation of others to get what we want, and harsh penalties for failed goals. Ironically, even high levels of self-discipline can be directly related to willfulness, unless we harnass it to build relationships. The two-year-old rules us - until we surrender everything to God.

 

Of course, we may "surrender" simply as a means to get what we want! Such claims or affirmations can be subtle ways to "succeed" or even to tacitly manipulate God. We may agree to "surrender" so that we get what we can't get any other way.

 

But the surrender that finally causes the two-year-old to grow up, is the surrender of "no conditions." It's the willingness (not willfullness) to lose everything (including reputation and status) because of love - His love. None of us surrenders anything willingly for a lesser motive. And herein perhaps lies a clue as to why we remain so determined and aggressive in life.

 

Our occasional prayer is "Thy will be done" but our common desire is "My will be done." Those of us in Christian leadership may have the deepest reflection to do at this point. Do we ultimately lead for Him or for ourselves? Is our drivenness and competitiveness a symptom of a surrendered life or the persistent two-year-old within us?

 

We might only imagine the utter transformation that genuine maturity might make in our marriages and ministries.

 

May we discover the glorious freedom that comes from His control rather than our own.

 

In  HOPE -

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/