A few years ago, we received a few nights stay at a hotel in town as a gift for my husband’s pulpit filling (which I had no trouble gladly welcoming, come to think of it). We signed our kids out of school early, blindfolded them and put them in the car for a mystery adventure. While they were curious, they were not scared. While they were eager to know more details, they were far from resistant.
Why? Because they know us. If they can trust us in all our limitations and broken love, how much more ought we to trust the One who was unlimited in His love by sending His son to receive our punishment that we might be received?
Unfortunately for me, a gaping chasm exists between the aforementioned ought and my natural response to God’s will. A glad acceptance and smiling surrender to the will of the Father does not come naturally to me.
When I think of welcoming, I think of the way my youngest child drops his toys at preschool and sprints to the gate upon my arrival. All smiles, all hugs, welcoming me back into his day.
Do I do this with the Father each day? Each new season and turn of life? What keeps me from doing so? What is underneath my reluctance to receive His will, which as Frances Ridley Havergal said so beautifully is merely His love in motion?
While we always walk into the unknown, the turn of the year has a way of smacking us in the face with the reality of our lack of control, our dependence and utter reliance on God’s will. Just as James reminded the early Church, we do well to make plans and resolutions. We also do well to submit those plans and preferences to the Lord.
Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you area mist that appears for little time and then vanishes…You ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. James 4:14-15.
I don’t imagine Sarai, in her old age, planning that she would leave her well-established estate and life to follow her aged husband to an unknown land. Yet, she welcomed the will of the God who would later be called the God of Abraham, and Judaism and Christianity are indebted to her submission.
I don’t imagine that Hagar planned on having her life collide with two Israelite spies who would need to be hidden on her thatched roof; yet, she welcomed the sudden will of the God she had only heard about in rumors, and we are indebted to her welcoming that will.
I don’t imagine engaged Mary, looking out upon her future life anticipating a divine and rather untimely child. Yet, Mary consented to the will of God and we the world is indebted to her for the child she received.
How do we become women (or men) who receive the will of the Father? How do we posture our lives in such a way as to receive what He brings to us, whether that be unexpected trials like depression, sickness and unplanned moves or His much easier-to-accept gifts of emotional, relational, spiritual or physical prosperity?
Knowledge and trust. It is so much easier to trust those we know and adore. Unlike our relationships with other broken humans, where to know more is not necessarily to trust more, to know God more is to trust Him more. He is altogether trustworthy.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Psalm 19:7-8).
There is no higher human compliment, in my book, than “To know him/her is to love him/her” and such a compliment can surely be said only and ultimately of the Lord.
May this be a year marked by deeper knowledge of our Father that leads to deeper trust in receiving His will. May we be able to say with Anna Laetitia Waring, the hymn writer, the following.
In Heavenly Love Abiding
In heavenly love abiding
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here:
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,,
And can I be dismayed?
Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim:
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.