My youngest child is a couple months shy of two years old. Even now, as parents know, she is becoming adept at shifting strategies in order to find and apply the most effective way to strengthen her position with me. The other night, I was putting her back to bed around 1:00-ish a.m. At first, she went for the power approach: “Stop it, Daddy!” Personally, I like this one. Not because she’s being defiant, but because of going all the way with “stop it” instead of merely “no.” Creative. I’m impressed. But I’m also aggravated and not about to give in and reinforce this approach. Then, she changes strategies: “Please, Daddy…” Better.
Now, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that this business of hunting for the best way to strengthen our position is something we’re practicing as well — with our spouse, children, employer, employees, church, community organization, etc. And, truth be told, a fair amount of our praying boils down to vacillating between “Stop it, Daddy!” and “Please, Daddy…” But both are attempts at strengthening our position with God in order to get what we think we want.
But what is the truly strongest position spiritually?
Luke 22:39-44 records Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and is helpful to us on this question.
Jesus leaves the upper room with his disciples and goes to the Mount of Olives. Withdrawing from them a short distance, he wrestles in prayer: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering from me” (Luke 22:42a NLT). Notice here that at this point Jesus does not want to suffering, does not desire to go to the cross. This is remarkable. Among all the reasons he’s come to earth — to life a perfect life, reveal God’s love, preach and teach about God’s kingdom, show God’s power in healings and miracles — one reason that stands out clearly is that he came to die on the cross. But here in Luke’s Gospel, we see him praying for a different end to the night. Still, Jesus continues: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (v42b). Though in this moment the weight of the task before him has him reluctant to go forward, his greater desire is the will of the Father. And we read next, “Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.”
Jesus’ strongest position was in surrender to the will of God. Our greatest position of strength is in surrender to the Father’s will.
Personally, I’m more likely to seek God’s comfort, wisdom, or power in my life rather than his will. What if a taste of his comfort, wisdom, and power are given generally? What if receiving his comfort, wisdom, and power in our lives in the full abundance in which he would like to share them entails seeking and surrendering to his will for us?
Our greatest position of strength is surrender to the Father’s will for us. For in that surrender, he appears to us and strengthens us.