Monday, December 17, 2018

To Tame My Will

All nations surrounded me; in the Name of the Lord I cut them off!
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the Name of the Lord I cut them off!
They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the Name of the Lord I cut them off!
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
the right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.
Ps. 118:10-18 

The contrast in this section of Psalm 118 is remarkable. It moves from being threatened from every quarter to shouts of victory, from certain death to the assurance of life. Since it takes me but a few moments to read these verses, I quickly become convinced that the conflict is brief in duration. But when I think about the course of a lifetime, I realize that struggles are played out over a period of years, and that the life I once dreamed of and the life with which I'm rewarded are two very different things. This is not disappointment, however, for a life given by and lived for God is experienced on a different level from human imagination and schemes. And, as Wendell Berry said, "We live the given life, and not the planned."

Part of the struggle then is to reconcile my plan to God's own, and to tame my will to God's will. Until that day of reconciliation, however, I will no doubt be beset on all sides by conflict—for conflict lies in the heart of the one whose will is at odds with God. Individual conflicts may last a brief time or they may last a lifetime. But in the end, I have faith that the strength of the Holy Spirit will bring me through, that Christ's blood will make me righteous, and that in whatever tent I find myself for eternity, I will be singing a glad song of victory.

I want things to go my way, Lord. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done. Amen.