I remember once meeting a successful businessman from my church at his office. Given the choice, I like to meet men in their offices instead of mine because it gives me a greater understanding of their daily situation. He had asked me to meet with him but I did not know why.
After entering his office and sitting down, I could tell this was not going to be a fun conversation. He was nervous, which was uncharacteristic for him. After a few moments of silence, he said that he and his wife were having some difficulties and he wanted my help to improve their relationship.
“Okay,” I said. Then I led off with an important question. “Have you been faithful to your wife?” The honesty of his response surprised me. With one word he said, “No.”
We chatted some more about the circumstances of his unfaithfulness. I was confident the situation, which was some time in past, was over. I surprised him though when I shared as gently as I could that if he really wanted things to improve with his wife, the first step was being honest with her. Fear crossed his face; a very real palpable fear.
In any relationship there are what I call “primary errors.” These are mistakes we make which significantly damage the relationship and require a great amount of work to repair. In marriage, unfaithfulness is a primary error.
In our relationship with God there are primary errors as well. The primary error often made regarding God’s will is not the desire for blessing or the desire to experience the life we want. The primary error isn’t even asking God for what we desire.
The primary error is we often elevate our desires above our commitment to surrendering our lives to the will of God. The conclusion that we as followers of Jesus must accept is that surrendering to the will of God may or may not give us the things we desire.
We must learn to abandon ourselves to the will of God without knowing what will happen. We need to be content with the outcome, regardless of what it is. Imagine if God’s will was for you to become a billionaire. Now imagine if God’s will was for you to be poor but have all your needs met. Which will do you want? I’d take the billionaire will. I’m sure most would. Now without knowing God’s will for you, are you able to put yourself in God’s hands and be okay with whatever his will is for your life?
Putting ourselves in God’s hands by daily submitting to his will is one of the most important practices of spiritual growth. If we truly desire to experience ongoing and sustained levels of connection with God, we must abandon our lives to God’s will every day. We must completely put our lives in his hands.
This is what Jesus meant when he said in Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” In the words of Jesus, the one who finds their life is the one who lives their life according to their own desires and therefore loses the life God desires for them. The one who loses their life forgoes the life they want and instead lives the life Jesus desires for them. For Jesus, this is finding true life.
True life is giving up the life we want in service to Jesus. As a follower of Jesus you can’t have it both ways. You can’t follow Jesus and at the same time follow your own will for your life. Many are trying to have both and in doing so committing a primary error of the Christian life.
Are you willing to submit to God’s will today, right now, at this very moment? Can you leave behind your will and follow his? I hope you can. It’s the only way to find true life.