We pray these words in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
American King James Version×, King James Version). The words may come easily, but when God’s will is not the same as our will then suddenly we have a problem. Mankind has found a myriad of ways to make God into an image that humans have devised. In all likelihood, there are as many concepts of God as there are people on earth. When a group comes together to express a single belief, we realize that even within that group there are a vast array of concepts that differ. Christianity, for example, comprises thousands of groups. In each group, there are individuals who apply the laws of their worship in a way that suits them.
It is not easy for a human being to accept the will of God. To begin with, we often do not really know the will of God, and if we think we do, give us a little time and we will be able to make the changes that suit what we think!
God is Almighty in every way. That means only He is right in all He determines. He sets the boundaries of good and evil. He makes the laws and gives the guidelines of worship. He alone can rightly judge every person on earth while we have trouble judging our own actions. How often I have said: “Why did I do that?” or “Why did I say that?” There are many times that we would like to undo our actions.
Total submission is the goal
The difficulty for us humans is reflected in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. To be sure, Jesus was terribly aware of the fate that awaited Him. He was to be the sacrificial lamb and He was to be brutally beaten and forsaken. Psalm 22 gives some details of what He would endure. That psalm was inspired by God a thousand years before Jesus was to die—and has acted as a measuring stick of the detail with which God can make a prophecy and bring it to pass. That is what defines Him as God. No human can do that—and certainly not a thousand years before it will occur.
In the hour just before His surrender, Jesus struggled within Himself. He begged God to take the cup from Him if it were possible (Matthew 26:39 Matthew 26:39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.
American King James Version×). God does tell us that prophecies will fail (1 Corinthians 13:8 1 Corinthians 13:8Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
American King James Version×). He showed He can reverse a decision He has made (Jonah 3:10 Jonah 3:10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do to them; and he did it not.
American King James Version×). Jesus’ request was not impertinent, nor was it insulting. It reflected what we sometimes have to go through in order to grasp the importance of surrendering our will to that of God. Jesus came to the point of saying, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 Matthew 26:39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.
American King James Version×).
In Paul’s life, God’s will was that he would suffer many things while doing the job God called him for (Acts 9:16 Acts 9:16For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
American King James Version×). It was nothing that Paul would have chosen for himself—it was not the will of Paul. But, it was the submission of Paul’s will to the will of God. That is the point to which everyone must come who wishes to inherit eternal life and receive the wonderful eternal gifts from God. In eternity, there will only be one way—His way.
Because we are human, we sometimes chafe at having someone else dominate our lives. That feels like slavery, and people today have only negative concepts of slavery. It is true that our willing submission to the will of God is a form of slavery (Romans 6:22 Romans 6:22But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life.
American King James Version×), but it is also the path to total freedom. This kind of slavery is the kind you never want to be released from.
God’s control is seen in the laws of physics
One of the interesting points of human development is the attempts men have made to fly. God devised the laws of flight. Aerodynamics, gravity, lift, wind forces, power, and thrust all work under a rigid set of laws. Break one law and the result could be death. Many people have leaped from cliffs or devised flying machines that had some fatal flaw. Only when mankind understood the laws governing flight were they able to soar.
Today we see that the more perfect our obedience is to those laws of God, the more freedom we have. It is fatal to resist His laws; it is freedom to follow them. Now we can fly better than the birds of the air in some ways. Just as the physical laws that God has given are His will and lead to success and freedom when we follow them, so too the spiritual laws are given by God, and obedience to them leads to true freedom and the ability to soar.
It seems an easy lesson to learn; however, carelessness, foolishness, defiance, stubbornness, and a whole host of other “qualities” exist in us all. These unseen forces interfere with doing what we know is right. The enemy of God and mankind—Satan—is alive and well. He is an expert at twisting things just enough so that we will fail spiritually unless we are seeking to do the will of our Father. It is a little like a bird trying to fly when a few feathers are missing. Satan certainly knows how to pluck our feathers to that end.
Submitting to God’s will includes action
It is one thing to pray “Thy will be done” and another thing to really mean it. Words are not enough. Actions that reflect our words are required. Oddly enough, when our actions are in place a change takes place within us. We come to love the laws that we discover. We cherish the manner in which we can reason, think, develop and build. We can see our relationships with others improving as we make the effort to be a good neighbor. We find a deep inner contentment and happiness once we yield to God and live His way.
We find that we are able to fly because we have learned to follow His laws carefully. There was great joy and celebration in the hearts of those who first put together something that would actually fly. As better understanding of the physical laws developed and as technology was perfected, so the ability to fly was perfected, yet always within the laws of God. Today there are humans in a space station far above earth carefully working within the limits of God’s laws and enjoying an awesome view of God’s Creation.
Scientists rejoice in finding new laws and applying them. True science is the attempt to find the laws that govern things, and more perfectly apply and function within those laws which were designed at Creation. These laws are those that govern our physical world, but the principle is exactly the same on the spiritual level. Above all humans on earth, scientists ought to be able to comprehend the presence and majesty of God most clearly. They live and breathe His laws every day.
There are stumbling blocks to submission
Still, that human element comes in just as in the days of Galileo when he discovered the laws governing heavenly bodies through his crude telescope and noticed that Jupiter had moons circling it. He then realized the earth was not the center of the universe. Upon his presentation of his clear evidence to the Catholic Church, those priests peering into his telescope saw, but said they did not see. The human part of us is where we have our problem.
Total surrender is needed in our lives, in our thoughts, plans, and future because the majority of mankind knows nothing about those spiritual laws. It is a little like humans struggling for millennia of time before they discovered the laws of electricity, flight, agriculture, health, and so on and not finding those laws. We have suffered, but we remained blind.
Much of the world has also remained spiritually blind. It does not need to happen—God has offered more. His offer of eternity and eternal life stands, but there is only one way to enter—learn His will and embrace it for the freedom and joy it offers. Jesus Christ did follow through with His words. He had His eye on the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2 Hebrews 12:2Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
American King James Version×).
Our will is flawed and biased. There is only one way that is right and is based on God’s laws. His will is for the good of His Creation and creatures. Those who submit their will and their sense of right to Him are the ones who will find eternal joy and a future that is breathtaking to consider. We have a struggle in order to submit our will to Him. It may be difficult and we may not understand, but we, too, need to echo Jesus’ words, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 Matthew 26:39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.
American King James Version×).
To learn more about how to submit to God’s will in your life, request our free booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion.