Can God will what we will?

BEING IN THE WILL OF GOD

Jesus encouraged His disciples, “that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). One of the things they were to pray for was, “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Being human, Jesus, too, had second thoughts what God’s Will really was. Three times, Jesus fell on His knees and begged the Father in heaven to find an alternative. God gave Jesus no answer. Jesus could not alter the Will of God. Jesus then accepted God’s Will, “not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Just think, what would have happened, to a lost humanity, if God’s will had yielded to the human cry and anxiety of facing death?

God did not give Jesus, His Son, what He may have wanted. In a very small way, I, too, did not get what I wanted. I have been handicapped for sixty years. One grandson lived but one day. I lost a baby sister in a refugee camp. My second brother was ten years when a truck took his life. I prayed for my two sisters. Both have breast cancer. One cousin is expected to depart this world any moment. Another one, at thirty-four, had a stroke. A nephew and a cousin are in wheelchairs for life. My wife’s niece has MS and her husband has kidney cancer. One nephew had heart surgery. On top of it, a nephew and several friends died prematurely and some friends live with strokes. A week ago, our youngest grandson broke his leg. I, too, had days when I wished for my struggles to end. Death does not come instantly. My parents suffered for two years each before their souls were freed from their bodies. All of these requests began to chastise me. I wanted my will to be done. I was leaving out, “not what I will, but what you will.” I keep on presuming what I will is best for my loved ones and friends, even for myself.

I cannot speak for anyone, but myself. I have come to one conclusion as to why I am still here and that is, “I have not fully done what God’s will intended for me.” I know, for a fact, that I was not ready to leave this world at twelve, at twenty-one or at sixty-six. I had no idea, that at eighty-one, I would serve God on the internet? I have yet to realize what it means of being fully in the Will of God. I am still working out my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Just as I have contributed to my own demise, and we all do, so I must contribute to my readiness to face eternity. I am still muddling through the clay that sticks to me and shall not be allowed to enter the pearly gates (Philippians 3:12-14; Revelation 21:27). I am not earning anything. I am only cleaning house, so others do not have to deal with my clutter (Ephesians 4:22-24). I do not really know when the Lord will let me rest from my labors (Revelation 14:13). All I know is that I am still in the race (I Corinthians 9:24-27).

With regard to why God takes our loved ones from us prematurely, the Bible does have some hints. The first one has to do with hardships the human body cannot endure. That is, when we pray for death and it does not come (Rev.9: 6). Such days and times, Jesus promised would be shortened (Mk.13: 20). God knows what is ahead and He halts evil from doing its worse. He has used death as a tool to defeat the enemy of humanity in the death of Christ Jesus (I Cor: 15: 26). Particularly, when God’s servants die in their prime, it is not a victory for evil; rather, it is one for Christ to spare His followers from further attacks by Satan when they are physically weak. It is when sickness plagues us that we begin to question God’s interest in us. Jesus knew how weak the flesh becomes under the pressure of dying (Mt.26: 41). I remember when I was hospitalized because of burns for 18 months, my pain made it difficult to hang on to my faith. I am grateful to those whose purpose it was to help me believe.

There is another reason why God gives us more time than we deserve. Peter, the man Jesus left in charge of His followers, summarized it for us. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (II Pe.3: 9). What Peter had in mind was God’s grace that is extended to us while we live and breathe. Everyone gets enough time to mend his/her ways in life. For the thief, on the cross, it may have been less than an hour for others a hundred years. The results are the same. Man can repent and make amends for his mistakes where possible. Grace is only granted to those that repent or separate themselves from their old sinful ways. God is not in the clean-up business. We are. We must do it before we get to the other side where God is. Nothing unclean can cross over to where Jesus went (Rev.21: 27). So, dear friend, if we are still walking about, we must keep washing up (Jn.13: 10).

A third is perhaps the biggest reason why God prolongs our days on earth. It is the only time we have to come to our senses because we shall give an account of what we have done during this period of grace. It is not God who will judge us, but we ourselves. Even without Christ, we are equipped with the ability to discern good from evil (Ro.2: 15). In Christ, our ability is enlarged by His example and teaching. Those that live by His words and believe in His promise are already sentenced and shall not be condemned (Jn.3: 18; 12: 47-50). There is no condemnation for those that live in the will of Christ (Jn.5: 24). To do and obey what He wills is being in the will of God the Father (Jn.14: 15-21; 15: 10). That decision, God left up to us.