It’s Friday…the end of the week… and also the last Friday before the metaphoric end to the summer. I’ve already told my family that next week, I’m getting my full fall on. I’m pulling my three Fall decorations out of the closet and spreading them around the house. I might even get a pumpkin–who knows? It’s Fall, and I love it!
The end of one season, be it literal or metaphoric, is always a time to reflect. It’s a time to remember and consider before stepping into something new. This morning, my daily devotional helped me to do just that. The focus of the devotion was on how God’s best enables our best. It closed with this prayer from Saint Augustine:
When I vacillated about my decision to serve my God, it was I who willed and willed not, and nobody else. I was fighting against myself…All You asked was that I ceased to want what I willed and begin to want what YOU willed.
I have always been a rather strong-willed person. My parents jokingly referred to me as their bulldog. When I got hold of something, I bit down and refused to let go. So, I can relate to Augustine’s dilemma. I want what I will, not because I’m selfish (although we could unpack that word and likely find that I am), but because I know what’s best. I’m a mom, right? Everyone knows that mom’s know best. My will is good. It puts me in control, and I like to be in control–of situations, of relationships, of decisions. When I get stressed out, it’s usually because I’m facing a situation that is outside of my control. Nothing terrifies me more than someone saying, “You have no control over this situation!”
Because it’s Friday and we’re all ready for the weekend (see how I exerted my control, there?), I’m going to cut right to the point. My will stinks. Really…it’s terrible. My will is going to point me in the wrong direction every single time. My will is about control, but my understanding of anything is so limited that I cannot effectively be in control. Control is not my deck to stand on. I’m not the captain of anyone’s ship, nor should I be. What Augustine realized, and the lesson I want to take with me as summer eases into fall, is the understanding that living is not about accomplishing my will, but about accomplishing the will of God. Like Augustine, I need to commit myself to the practice of letting go of my will and taking up God’s.
It’s the prayer Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “Lord, not my will, but Thine.” (Sorry, I was exposed to a lot of King James as a kid!) As the CEB puts it:
For the next several months, this is going to be my prayer each morning: to leave my will at the feet of God’s throne and to pick up his instead. I invite you to join with me as we shift our focus in the coming days, weeks, and months from our own will so that we might fully embrace God’s will for our lives. I believe that if we can successfully put God’s will first, amazing transformations will happen. How might the world look if we fully committed to God’s will? God’s will is justice. God’s will is peace. God’s will is hope. God’s will is love. God’s will is salvation. God’s will is redemption. Think about that. Think about what a world according to God’s will would be. While our world will always be flawed, it can be better. And we, the Jesus people, can make it so. Will you pray this prayer with me as we enter into a new season? Will you take up this mantra and seek to live it anew each day? Will you work to relinquish your will for the ultimately better will of God? I’m going to try. I’m going to fail. But I’m going to remember that God’s mercies are new each morning….so great is his faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Blessings and Peace,