Patience is not the same as indifference; patience conveys the idea of someone who is tremendously strong and able to withstand all assaults. … A person who has the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue, he is devoted to God Himself. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)
These thoughts have continued to swirl in my mind…”someone who is tremendously strong…not devoted to a cause or any particular issue…” As Chambers says, the only way to be this way is to be “devoted to God Himself.” I’ve done a lot of praying over the past few months… a lot… but I am praying about certain things, about causes or issues. In each instance, I pray a specific way, for a specific outcome or happening or resolution. Does this, then, mean that I am not devoted to God and simply just praying my will be done?
I don’t think so. I hope not. I don’t know.
I don’t think it is wrong to have hopes and ideas about the things we pray for. If we had no opinion or preference at all would we even care enough to pray. Jesus tells us to ask…to ask specifically. But He also says whatever we ask will be given to us…so long as it is in accordance with God’s will. Since we are not God and cannot know at the outset what that will is in most cases, all we can do is ask and trust and see how He chooses to answer.
This is where we get to the heart of what Chambers is talking about…where we find out if we are truly devoted to God or ourselves.
As we pray and wait, we will begin to see the circumstances surrounding our issue or cause changing…or not as the case may be. Our response to those changes will show if we are prayerfully pursuing God’s will or our own. If the circumstances do not support or help the way you’ve been praying, how do you react? Are you thrown? Sent into a tailspin of emotion? Give up on the whole praying thing and take matters into your own hands? OR, do you go back to the Lord and say “I trust you. Your will be done. For our good and your glory?”
That is the test of devotion…subjection of one’s will to another.
The “your will be done” response does not indicate indifference. It doesn’t even indicate emotionlessness. There very well may be great emotion, confusion, even a bit of fear. What rises up in the heart of man is going to rise up in the heart of man…that is not the point. The point is our response to it. To take all of that emotion and your preferences and confusion and go to the Lord and, in effect, say “I don’t like this…I don’t understand it…but I trust you” is to demonstrate devotion. It is also to be “tremendously strong” and to “withstand all assaults.”
Our will and our emotions are the enemies playground. If he can cause those to hold sway over the choices we make and how we respond to the will and providence and sovereignty of God…he has won because, as the word tells us, sin begins in our heart. But, for one truly devoted to God, no matter how prayers are answered or what circumstances look like the response is always a submitted “Your will be done.” Even when that means loss, pain, dashed hopes, and shattered dreams.