Not My Will, but Thine

March 29, 2020

You all know that one person…   When you see them walk your way, whether it be at work, at church, or at home, with that certain look on their face, you know they are going to ask you to do something.  You cringe, pretend not to notice them, and attempt to slip away.  But, of course, you aren’t successful, and they call out your name…  You stop in your tracks, waiting for the inevitable, “I hate to bother you, but would you please…”, and then you get one more thing added to your list of things to do and one more day on your calendar that doesn’t have enough hours in it, as you sigh heavily after saying “I’d be happy to”. 

But you know you weren’t really being honest in your response.  Now I’m not saying we should never say ‘no’ when someone asks us to do something.  There are times we need to take into consideration the physical limits of our time and endurance.  When we are already pushing those boundaries we need to prioritize and make sure we are attending to the most important calls on our time and energy first, before taking on tasks that are either less necessary or that could be done more easily, and perhaps with better results, by someone who isn’t currently as overloaded.

However, when the Holy Spirit calls you to do something, we are not to “quench the Spirit” as the apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:19.  Will God ever give you more than you can handle?  Yes.  But He won’t give you more than He can handle through you.  It is when we rely on our own strength, our own power, our own stamina, that we crumble, falter, and fail.  The Holy Spirit would not ask something of you if He wasn’t willing to guide you, strengthen you, and walk the path with you.  And that might mean adjusting our plans throughout this pandemic that we are all dealing with.  Not out of fear, but out of love for others and obedience to our Lord, who will show us new ways to be of service, ways that might be unfamiliar or which we might be uncomfortable with.  But we are to continue following the leading of the Holy Spirit and walk the path on which He directs us.

Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He knew what His Father was asking of him.  It is was far more than any mere human would do willingly.  No person would ever gladly suffer the excruciating pain that he did, by being publicly humiliated, beaten with a whip that had hooks in it, having a crown of thorns pushed into his scalp, and then having nails pounded into his wrists and feet upon a wooden cross, which was then lifted and dropped into a hole in the ground jarring every bone in his body, and left there laboring for each shallow breath until he took his last one.  As Jesus was there in the garden praying to his Father he asked if there was any possible way he wouldn’t have to do this.  I can picture him saying, “O Father, maybe there is an easier way to save these poor people from their sins and thus save them from spending an eternity separated from you?  I know the animal sacrifices only temporarily covered up their sins, but do I really have to do… this?”  And yet he knew in his heart that it was the only way.  He knew this is what he had come down to earth to do.  The mere thought of it caused him to sweat drops of blood, and yet he didn’t run.  He didn’t hide.  He didn’t try to escape those who would be there in mere moments to arrest him, put him on trial, and then bring about all of the horrendous agony he would endure.  The innocent suffering for the guilty.  The meek for the tyrants.  The perfect one for the wretched, blind, and diseased.  In order to bring forgiveness, healing, and peace to all who would put their faith in him. 

And as you heard in our third Scripture reading (Matthew 16:24-27) Jesus asks us to pick up our cross every day, deny ourselves, and follow him.  Not just on the days we feel like it.  Every day.  If he asks us to help someone, forgive someone, or tell someone about God’s love, but we don’t feel like it, we are not to pretend we don’t hear him asking.  He knows we know.  You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool God any of the time!  So we should answer, “I’d be happy to!” except unlike when we say it to that person I mentioned earlier, we are to actually mean it.   We are called to serve God with joy.  Psalm 100:2 (GWT) calls us to “Serve the Lord cheerfully”.  2 Corinthians 9:7 says we are to give cheerfully, and that means of our time, talents, and resources, resting on the promise that God will renew them as we give them.  And as you heard in our second Scripture reading (Romans 12:6-13 NLT), “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them… Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.  Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.”

So…  Are you ready?  You are if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ.  Are you able?  You are if you rely on the Holy Spirit and not on your own strength alone.  But the biggest question is – are you willing?  I pray that you are.  Amen.


"Parable of Two Sons"  (Jesus of Nazareth)

"Live Like That"  (Sidewalk Prophets)