Sunday, September 15, 2013

What does "Not my will, but Yours" look like?

Every morning for a week. Seven days. The words replay in my head over and over and over again. His prayer in the garden: “not my will, but yours.”

But how? How does He get there? What does that even mean? Not my will, but yours? What does that look like? For me. For Laura. Today. September 15, 2013.

I can't find where I first journaled about these words, where the revelation hit me square in the face. His words--He, too, begged:

"O, Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39).
I read it again in Mark and in Luke: 

“Abba Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will but what You will” (Mark 14:36).

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
But the cup could not pass; there was no other way for salvation. He had to endure the cross.  This was the plan for redemption—that He who knew no sin would become sin, on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21). 

And so, it says, He prayed again—a second time: "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." (Matthew 26:42). And in John, we see total acceptance: to Peter, He says, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?" (John 18:11).

And there, in His words, I'm encouraged: He, fully human, God's only son, asked for a different plan. And, He, too, received a "No."  

But what does He do? Does he throw a fit? Does he become offended?  Of course not. He—fully human, fully perfect—sets the example: "Not my will, but yours." 

And so, for seven days, I've been thinking about that. What does that mean? What does “not my will, but yours” look like lived out

Just this week, I’ve had several women tell me they’re encouraged to read my blog. My first thought, I’ll admit, is something along the lines of What? People actually read this? But my second thought—the one that captivates me most—is pure fear: What if blogger Laura looks fantastic, but real Laura…not so much?

And here’s the truth God showed me: What people read and relate to is your vulnerability. When you’re willing to be vulnerable, you open a door to others that says it’s okay to be vulnerable. And when we’re vulnerable, we’re honest. With ourselves and with others.

Because here’s the other truth: Blogger Laura and Real-Life Laura do not have it all together.

And you know what?  That’s okay.

My vulnerability for today:  It's hard for me to admit that because, if I’m honest, I’d really rather have it all together. I’d rather be that woman of faith—already. Arrived. Complete. I see her in others—but it’s hard to see her in me.

The last seven days have been hard, but when I surrender, when I talk to the Lord about my heart—where I really am, I find that I’m right where He wants me to be. From the beginning of this journey, I told the Lord: I want to be real as I walk through this. Often we give our testimony after the fact. But I didn’t want that. I wanted to give my testimony during the journey.

And I’ve learned two incredible truths so far: 
  1. The greater the hope, the greater the risk of disappointment. (And related: the greater the wait, the longer the delay—the sweeter the reward.)
  2.  If my circumstances do not change, God is no less good and no less faithful.

 But I’ve learned some other things, too—that it’s okay to be offended with the Lord. He can take it. It’s not okay to stay there. But it’s okay to be there. For a time. 

It’s also okay to play the “What if” game. What if this doesn’t work? What if this—this thing I want—isn’t supposed to happen? What if ______ (Fill in the blank: worst case scenario)? But it’s not okay to stay there. It’s not okay to live there.

And above all: it’s okay to not be okay. Jesus was not okay in the garden as He prayed, as He begged: isn’t there another way? can there be a different plan?

This week, I’ve not been okay. I've been thinking all along if I just pray enough and beg enough and DO enough and have enough faith, I can somehow change God's will. I can make it like mine. But that's just not true--and I don't think that's what He desires of me. 

He desires a heart that says—that really says—not my will, but yours.

So what does that look like? Maybe it’s the choice to choose Him, to choose that He is sufficient for me. He is enough. He is Abba.

Maybe it means I change the way I pray—change what I demand. I’ve begged for my way, and now it’s time to stop; it’s time for my heart to align with whatever He wants, with whatever He wills.

I want to learn what He desires of me, and I only want to desire what He desires. I want to learn to really hide my heart in Him, to hide my expectations in Him, to be content that He is sufficient.

Not my will, but yours.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Content Not To Know

My chest tightens; the vessels inside work and constrict, trying to move life through me despite the knot, the pain, despite the fact that my heart aches and burns and cries out. Tears fill my eyes, and I blink them away, doing my best to see the road before me, to keep my wheels between the lines. But how can I see with my eyes what I can’t see with my heart? What my heart feels and knows and experiences.

“Why me? Why us?” Her words echo in my mind. I’ve thought them, too, and I am careful to choose my words, careful not to say what I hate to hear—what is trite, and obvious, and exactly the opposite of what she needs, today.

But what can you say? There’s really no words, none worth expressing, none that can capture the fullness of this pain in my heart, none that translate the tears, now streaming.

Why? I find my voice; it’s a scratch above a whisper, and I ask Him. Why her?

For all that I’ve begged and implored and declared—the hours and hours of presenting my requests to Him, that it not be with her as it is with me, that she not have to walk this journey. I wanted it more for her than I wanted it for me. Because more than anything, I didn’t want her to experience this—the grief, the loss, the disappointment, the pain.

So why? I ask again.

And I hear it quietly—the answer He gives me often, not what I want to hear, but what I know is true:

Not everything is for you to know.

I am ready for it this time, rebuttal in hand. I feel like fighting today.

Fine, but why? This I want to know. Not for me, for her. Why?

Laura, do you believe I have your best interest at heart?

Yes, but –

Do you really believe I am good and what I do is good?

Yes, of course, but we’re talking about—

Do you trust me?

I stop, my answer is slow. You know I do.

Then trust that I have her best interest at heart, too. Trust that everything I do is for her best just as it’s for your best, too. I love her as much as I love you, and I’m not withholding anything from you. 
I’m not holding back my gifts or my blessings. They will come. They just didn’t come today.

My defensiveness flares a little—yes, but why not today?

Because, baby, not everything is for you to know.

I am done arguing. My defense is weak, and I know He is truth. And when I believe it, when I taste and experience and accept His truth, then I am set free.

I am reminded of my words before—do I really believe He is good? Isn’t that at the core of it all because if He is good, then He is good no matter what. He is not good because… He is just good.

My heart wraps the truth around itself, the truth seeping into my veins, pulsing through me. If I’ll really believe that, for me, for her, for all who face this journey, then I can see that He has my best interest at heart. His agenda is for me, so that He gets the glory.

Is it easy? No.

But He is here, and He holds me, and He never leaves me. And can I learn to be content with just that? That He is here, and I am held.