Sometimes when I pray I find myself questioning the prayer itself. I wonder, “Is this thing I am asking you for really something you want?” and “How do I know the difference between your leadership in my life and my own ambition?” This week as I brought my prayers to God I sensed him encouraging me to remember his unseen hand at work both in and through me. I do ask God for things such as help or favor - but when I drive my heart to its ultimate conclusion, I realize that what I really want, what I am really always working towards, is simply to serve him. I just want to be his. When I feel the simplicity of that desire, the honesty of it, I am always surprised by the things I suddenly know are his will. Sometimes we fret over the seemingly endless series of decisions we have to make, wondering if this one or that one is really what he wants for us. The true goal of our life with God is not to get our decisions right, but to surrender the totality of our life to God.
When we try to scrutinize our choices, we are really trying to wrestle back control. It is a way of reestablishing supremacy over our lives, relegating God back to the role of a passive observer, hoping we will guess his will and act on it. The truth is that a surrendered person need not worry so much about their decisions. To the surrendered life, circumstance becomes evidence of divine direction. When we are surrendered, truly open to the breath and leadership of God, we will find ourselves much like a leaf on the wind - exactly where we are supposed to be.
Remember the 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books we used to read as kids? With every few pages you were offered an ethical decision and what you did next determined the destiny of the characters in the story. So it is with us, if we simply decide to honor Jesus in each small and seemingly insignificant moment, deciding to help a friend, to fulfill a commitment, to have an important conversation to give some money away or to intercede for someone who is struggling, we will find ourselves exactly where we need to be. The steps of the righteous, David said, are ordered by God. Jesus agreed: “the wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Let's say I begin my morning in prayer, bless my kids on their way to school, linger a few minutes to help Monica with something and leave a little later than I had planned. I get in to my car to see the gas is low, so I head to the gas station. While pumping, I see a woman crying, so I ask her if she needs help. She shares her sadness and struggle, and there at the gas station before the day has even really begun I pray for her and urge her back towards the Father that loves her. Have I not done the will of God? Is there any doubt about that? Should I not rejoice in that moment that I am right where he wanted me? But think about that - praying with that woman is not something I would have ever rationally planned. One faithful decision leads to the next, with each step being divinely ordered. If instead of finding myself at the gas station I find myself at work doing the best I can to glorify God in my work, is that not also his will?
When we are really surrendered, then God becomes our sovereign. Your job is to surrender, each and every day. Then, you can trust that the challenge you are currently facing is the one he wants you to face. Likewise, the opportunity that is presenting itself is likely his call as well. We strive for something that can only be ours when we no longer need it. Following the will of God sometimes means giving up the endless search for it - and instead, remembering that we are his, always in every way at his disposal. He is our sovereign and we are his joyous subjects. When this is the state of our hearts then the wind of our lives is more sacred than we know - and his invisible hand more in control than we realize.