“It’s God’s will,”
“God told me this is what I am supposed to do.”
I knew she wasn’t going to like it. I knew her and I knew what she was stepping into, and it was not a match.
Fast forward two weeks.
“It didn’t work out,”
she said. Change of course. Back to the drawing board.
Did God change his mind? Or did she hear someone else’s will and call it “God” in the first place? It is easy to confuse our own heart’s desire with the whispered message of God’s will.
Our will vs. God’s will — it’s kind of like an arm wrestling contest. Who’s gonna win?
When Martin Luther prayed “Thy will be done” in the Lord’s Prayer he admitted how hard he fought God’s will and used the prayer to ask God to help him lose the match:
“O Father, do not let me get to the point where my will is done. Break my will; resist it. No matter what happens let my life be governed not by my will, but by yours.” (LW 42: 44-48)
The Heidelberg Catechism’s treatment of this line of the Lord’s Prayer (Question 124) is a milder echo of the same idea.
The heart of it is the assertion
“Your will alone is good.”
By implication, then, my own will is a problem.
“Help us and all people to reject our own wills and to obey your will…”
Those who have read the opening segments of the Catechism or its treatment of the law will know that this is nothing new. The effect of sin in human life is to leave us broken, unable to follow God’s will purely even if we know it.
But is it even so easy to know what God’s will is?
In 1563 a Reformed Christian did not expect to hear God’s will whispered in a still, small voice. One started with what God had already made plain.
Jesus summarized God’s will in two texts from the Old Testament: God’s overall will is for us to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength; and God’s overall will for us is for us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything we do should help fulfill those basic directions. For details, see the Ten Commandments.
Beyond the basic instructions for human living found in the Bible, they were convinced that God has already been involved in your daily life. Our work is not some neutral thing — God has actually called each of us to the roles and tasks of our daily living.
Employer or employee, laborer teacher or manager, spouse or single, parent or child, God has called you. God has called you to these roles and will use you for his purposes there. We pray God will
“Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to…”
Once we know God’s will the Catechism takes us to the attitude with which we carry out God’s will. We are to obey God’s will
“…without any back talk.”
We are to live out our callings
“…as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.”
But all this is not moralizing or rules. It is a prayer. We ask God to help us find, and do, and rejoice in God’s will. We know we need the help. And we know that God’s will is the way to life and joy.
What do you think about when you pray “Your will be done”?
What might life, faith, and church look like if we lived into Heidelberg’s way of praying this?
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