Have it your way

I’ve been reading a book that tells, in fiction style, stories of biblical men who led the Israelites out of Egypt and while wandering in the desert. They followed the Lord’s leading — a cloud by day; a pillar by night. When God moved, they moved. They didn’t know where they were going or how long they would stay once they got there, wherever “there” was, or whether they’d have water or food or shade. The Lord led them and they followed, totally dependent on His faithfulness and goodness.

And if your familiar with this story at all, you know that the people didn’t follow without complaint. They whined and complained and wished for slavery again even though they were free. And God answered even their whining.

He gave them what they asked, but sent leanness into their soul. — Psalm 106:15

A certain fast food burger joint made a name for themselves by telling customers: “have it your way.” Meaning, of course, that a customer could personalize and customize his burger to suit his tastes.

I wonder what this says about our mentality as a culture. Has having things “our way” made us lean in soul?

I often tell my kids, maybe not in the same words but with the same meaning, “Okay, have it your way.” As in, you don’t want to nap today? Okay, have it your way, but you’ll be in bed after dinner. Or, you don’t want to pick up your toys right now? Okay, have it your way, you’ll miss out on stories because you’ll be cleaning up?

This use of “have it your way” is completely different than what the burger chain intended. And I wonder if it’s what God meant when he gave the complaining Israelites what they asked for.

Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say a version of this back to God: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Some days, I feel like I’m fighting to have my way with the day and when I come to the end of myself, I throw up my hands and say, “Fine, God, have it Your way.” Where I want to be is in a place where I start the day saying, “Your will be done,” even if it means I deny myself what I want to do and instead do what the Lord leads.

Today, I have fought to get a few minutes on the computer — to blog, to read a few articles, to answer some e-mail. Instead, I’ve bought groceries, washed dishes, played games with the kids and now I’m in an epic battle with our son for a nap while fielding unending requests from our daughter about a snack. I only have so many hours before I have to start dinner and my husband gets home and then it’s bedtime routine and then I’m exhausted and there goes my day.

I was called to be a writer before I was called to be a parent, and both things are important to me. I will fight for both of them with everything I have but one will inevitably be the loser. (Honestly, all you author moms out there, I don’t know how you do it and I wonder if I’m doing this whole thing wrong.) And when I choose my kids and their urgent needs, a part of my writing life dies.

Saying to God, “Your will be done” is no easy or painless thing.

In another book I’m reading, the author describes this petition of the Lord’s prayer this way:

How different from the prayers of “help me get my way,” “make everything turn out the way I want it to” and “bless my projects” that we are so often disposed to offer! The more we are able to internalize this petition–“Thy will be done”–the more complete our journey to maturity in Christ.

So if asking God to give us what we want produces a leanness of soul, then asking for His will to be done must produce the opposite: a meaty, muscular faith and trust that can withstand the toughest of challenges.

Oh, how I’d much rather be a couch potato Christian. Instead God calls His followers to walk in faith, to exercise trust and to submit to His leadership.

Every day, we are faced with the same choice: to have it our way or to say to God, have it Your way.

So, which will it be?


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