Along with the beautiful, I've had some real "ugly" in my life this year. My will wanted to get angry...and I did. My will wanted to feel sorrow...and I did. I am sure these eyes have never cried so many tears. My will desired, almost more than anything, to see some kind of godly retribution for the pain and sorrow inflicted on the innocent, but that did not happen (Though, Lord forgive me, it did a thousand times in my mind).
For two weeks I have wrestled with this post. I have asked the Lord to give me words...none came. Night after night, morning after morning, I would sit with my laptop and NOTHING...except a constant theme that seemed not even remotely related to "bowing my will" kept popping up everywhere I went. I opened the new study our women will be starting to a random page and there it was.....life. I read my Jesus Calling for the day...again...life. I attend the Women of Faith and listen to Rick Warren speak about the testing in life we all face. I listened to Lisa Tekeurst talk about how to handle the conflicts that will come to us in life. I worship and hear ten thousand women sing about life in Christ...unfathomable love shown, hope for the lost, strength given to the weak, grace...undeserved...richly poured out, power to walk through the storms of life. And then to punctuate His message to me. TobyMac's song, Speak Life, shouts the message to me from my car speakers. Hmmmm? Could it be there is something He is trying to say to me?
I could not possibly write about "bowing my will in worship"...not when I had not bowed my will regarding the all consuming heartache in my own life . Oh, that "ugly thing" kept coming up day after day, night after night...to the point of sickness. I had this thought in my head that if I bow my will here to this evil thing...it wins. And there is the lie. My life had become a constant conversation about the sorrow in my life, the pain I saw in others and the hurt I felt myself. And then one afternoon, I picked up my study book with a few moments to spare and read Angela Thomas's words. Paraphrased, they go something like this..."I heard what everyone said. I heard all the predictions of the devastation I and my children would be facing in the years ahead because my husband chose another path...and I thought...why, Lord? This is not the way I planned my life. This is not the life I planned for my children...all this brokenness...NOT in my plan." In the midst of her hurt and pain, Angela heard her Father tell her that her job was not to heal her children or even herself. Her job? Her job was to stop focusing on the "ugly" in her life, bend her will and speak truth and good over her children. She was not a healer, or a fixer or a hero...but HE was!
Rick Warren, still grieving from the loss of his precious son, talked with us at the "Women of Faith" conference about the ways God tests our faith during our lives. As I listened to him that day, it occurred to me that many times these tests look pretty "ugly." Testings of loss, of change, of pain, of delayed promises all can have "ugly faces" when we are staring at them straight on in the moment. And yet, as bad as it looks, faith bows the will...like Abraham with his Isaac...like Moses leading a complaining, rebellious and ungrateful people to their promised land...like Paul in prison penning letters of truth and hope to the churches...like Noah building an ark because God told him to...like David writing Psalms of worship while running from a deadly enemy...like Job refusing to curse God when he faced the worst Satan had to offer...like Angela speaking life over her broken and hurting family, like Rick continuing to teach hope and faith in the midst of profound grief. Faith bows the will even when it doesn't seem fair...even when we don't get it AT ALL. That got me.
What happened in my life this year was completely baffling. It was beyond my comprehension and did not seem fair to those who were affected. But this is what Rick said about faith:
Faith is facing the future without knowing what will come next.
Faith is following God's leading without knowing where.
Faith is waiting for God's timing without knowing when.
Faith is expecting a miracle without knowing how.
Faith is trusting God without knowing why.
Faith is continuing to persist without knowing how long.
Can you see all the bending of will that is taking place in this walk of faith? Faith is...and here is that "C" word AGAIN...a choice. I can choose to bend my will in faith even if I don't understand...even when it doesn't seem fair...bending the will in worship is a conscious and determined choice to the "without knowing" part of faith.
Please don't misunderstand me. I am not bowing to what is ugly in my life...not at all. Rather, in the midst of it, I bow my will in the matter to the only One who can make any sense of it...make any victory out of it. I bow to Him...to Jesus as Healer and Redeemer in trust and allow the Holy Spirit to work His will. Huge difference.
I love what TobyMac says in his song "Speak Life"...
I am asking the Lord to "lift my thoughts higher" so that my will might be in tune to His GOOD will. To be honest my will is not so good...especially during the ugly times of my life. What I can do is choose to speak life and then, you know what? I may not win, but HE DOES!!!
I don't want to leave you with the idea that a life of faith is bowing your will to a bunch of "bad stuff." No way! Living a life a faith, trusting God brings His good favor! Listen to this:
For the LORD God is a sun and a shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does He withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of Hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in You!
Psalm 84: 11-12
Blessings to you...