Your Pastor Speaks: Remember to let ‘thy will be done’

By Rev. Jane E. Madden
Your Pastor Speaks

All too often we decide to establish our daily routines based upon what we would have us to do as we quickly forget really important words of our faith, “Thy will be done.”

The Apostle Paul faced that while he was on his second missionary journey. (Acts 16) 6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.

Twice in this short passage of scripture Paul’s desire to go places was redirected by the Spirit. Paul was given the strength to complete the entire journey by allowing the Spirit to redirect his path into Macedonia and beyond.

God has given each of us abilities that we are called to use for the benefit of others. The opportunities to use those skills are provided for us in our daily lives. Frequency of their use is not a factor when we consider it pure joy to follow Jesus. The important factor is allowing the Spirit to guide and direct us.

The means of knowing God’s will vs. our will is accomplished through prayer. Prayer ultimately leads us to trust that, with God leading the way, we can expect great things to happen and, if not, whatever we may accomplish will be insignificant and short-live.

To approach all things first by prayer is not to say God will always give us clear, concrete answers. We still have to think and reason and, ultimately, decide what to do. But God will lead and guide us, if we ask: “Lord, what would you have me to do?” “Lord, show me the way.” Following God’s plan will lead us to be able to say, “No, I didn’t get what I wanted; God had something better in mind.”

Prayer will direct us to see God at work in all of life and, lead us to surrender our will to God’s good and perfect will for our life.

I don’t know of a better illustration than this – I’m told it’s found on a plaque in the lobby of the Center for Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City – it reads:

“I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;

I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things;

I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy;

I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;

I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;

I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I had hoped for;

Almost in spite of myself, my unspoken prayers were answered,

And I am, among all men, most richly blessed.”

As long as you remain determined to do things your way, to have what you want when you want it, you’ll always be frustrated and come up short. Life will never be quite as abundant and glorious as you’d hoped it would be. Only when you let go and let God lead and guide you and use you to his glory will you experience life in all of its abundance.

I invite you to spend some quiet time with God as you ponder these questions. Where is the Spirit of God leading you at this moment? What is it God would have you to do and be? Are you willing to ask God to show you the way? Are you willing to see God at work in both your successes and your failures? Are you willing to humble yourself and choose God’s will over your own?

The writer is the the chaplain at Ohio Living Dorothy Love and does pastoral care at Sidney First United Methodist Church.