…not my will but yours be done…

Many will know the phrase with which I have titled this post.  But what do you think it means?

It is a nice phrase, which I have used frequently, but what do we mean by it?  Looking at it in context, what is God’s will in this situation?  Do we think that the choice Jesus is facing is between walking away, or facing the arrest trial and crucifixion – where that is God’s will?  Or is God’s will letting ourselves go into an unknown future?

In her commentary on the Rule of Benedict, Joan Chittister writes:

The question, of course, is how do we recognize the Will of God? How do we tell the will of God from our own? How do we know when to resist the tide and confront the opposition and when to embrace the pain and accept the bitterness because “God wills it for us.” The answer lies in the fact that the Jesus who said “I have come not to do my own will but the will of the One who sent me” is also the Jesus who prayed in Gethsemane, “Let this chalice pass from me:” The will of God for us is what remains of a situation after we try without stint and pray without ceasing to change it.

If we think that the will of God is Jesus arrest, trial and crucifixion, where is free will?

And yet, sometimes a parent knows what is good for a child, even though for the child it may not seem so at the time.  Joan Chittister again:

It is not supportive to take away a person’s heart medicine simply because they do not like the taste of it. It is not supportive to fail to set a broken leg simply because the setting will be painful. It is not supportive to deny people the right and the environment to think a situation through, to recommit themselves, to gain perspective, to work things out without dividing the community over them.

But again, this ignores free will.

For me, free will lies in being open to hear what God might be saying in a situation, and listening and following – not necessarily knowing where it will lead, but trusting that wherever it leads, God will be with me there.

Joan Chittister once more time:

We are not the last word, the final answer, the clearest insight into anything. We have one word among many to contribute to the mosaic of life, one answer of many answers, one insight out of multiple perspectives. Humility lies in learning to listen to the words, directions and insights of the one who is a voice of Christ for me now.


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