My youngest brother had a business that required heavy-duty trucks and a garage full of machinery. Once on a visit to Virginia, I planned a fun activity with him for all the cousins, but first, he asked me for a favor. Drive one of his trucks to a job site.
I looked at that big truck and balked. He said, “You drive a shift. You can do it. Just follow me.”
So there I was, following him in stop-and-go traffic up a hill in Northern Virginia. I have no recollection of the fun activity we eventually did, but I can vividly picture myself babying the clutch thinking – he said I could do it. And somehow I did.
If you’ve never driven a big truck with a manual transmission up a hill to a stop sign in traffic, you might not understand the relief I still feel that I managed not to roll back into the line of cars hugging the back bumper.
In a very real way, from school-age children through our most senior adults, we are all white-knuckle-navigating this unprecedented time of history, constantly pushing in the clutch to change gears as we climb the steep learning curve of this lockdown life – hoping we don’t roll backwards into a bad place.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” I wonder if the disciples thought as we might – that God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven seems impossible – the world seems too far gone, too far from heaven – beyond the power of a prayer.
If Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth, it must be possible. So we pray the big requests, for God’s will to be done in the world – for spiritual and medical breakthroughs, revival, open hearts, healing, God’s glory. We pray for our country, our leaders, our state, our county, our town, our neighborhood, our family.
But are we afraid to pray it for ourselves? Do we balk at the will of God – that it be more than we think we can handle? Might include loss? Might be difficult or uncomfortable?
That is exactly why we need to pray. We need God’s comfort and strength to respond in His will in whatever situation – easy or hard, joyful or sorrowful – in a way that honors Him.
Will we walk in the Spirit and or in the way of the flesh? Will we be envious and conceited or humble and generous? Will we demand our own way or prefer others? Anxious or prayerful? Bitter or forgiving? (Galatians 5:16-26, Colossians 3:5-25, Philippians 4:4-8).
These are not easy! But praying for God’s will to be done in our lives implies a willingness to get behind the wheel and give it a go. As we start to move in God’s will, He supplies the grace and power to do it.
But it’s bigger than that. While we live here on earth, we have these opportunities to practice what we will be doing in heaven. There, obedience will be full of joy. Here it may be a struggle, but we have assurance of joy too. The more we walk in the will of God, the quicker and more obvious the joy.
When I got in that truck, I had already owned several cars with a stick. My first driving lessons were in my father’s pickup with three on the column! As we experience good outcomes by choosing God’s will in the little things, it builds our confidence to do the next hard thing.
Jesus understands. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He was stressed to the point of sweating blood as He submitted to the will of the Father. Was there ever so great a cost to submitting to the will of the Father? So great a struggle? So great a prize?
We are looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I was filled with relief when I got that truck to the destination. And a sense of triumph! For the joy set before us, let’s get behind the wheel and follow Jesus.
May the little ways you bring His will to earth today fill you with gladness and bring glory to Him.
– Mary O’Connor