Thy Will Be Done
When Pastor Thielicke was preaching to the faithful in Stuttgart, Germany amidst the bombings of the second Big War, the Holy Spirit surely anointed him. He spoke hard truths to his flock despite the fact their lives were already rattled by war.
When he came to Thy Will Be Done in his series on the Lord’s Prayer, Pastor T. said, “Is all that goes on rumbling in our own hearts - the protesting thoughts that will not be reconciled, the fretful spirit of worry and anxiety, the egoism in our attitude toward our neighbor - is all this that goes on within us in thought, word, and deed, and even in our dreams, really the will of God? Is not this again our own will, which is so terribly hard to break and which never tires of arrogantly turning down the latch when God knocks on the door of our heart? Is it not our own will that really makes us so unhappy? Is it not our own will that we want to be freed from when we cry, ‘Thy will be done?’”*
Oh brothers and sisters, isn’t that the cold, hard truth? In the seventh chapter of Brother Paul’s letter to the Romans, his heart cries, “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
Sound faintly familiar? I want to eat right but I don’t plan and prep my weekly meals. I want to honor my Father by celebrating His bounty but snack foods and sweets lure me beyond my willpower. I truly intend to do my temple maintenance by walking in the evenin’s but fatigue overwhelms me.
Yessiree, just like Brother Paul, what we want to do we don’t. That stubborn will that “never tires of arrogantly turning down the latch when God knocks on the door of our heart.” Ouch Pastor T.!
But surely the pastor’s words remain right, which is exactly why Jesus came to die on a cross. We are broken, weak, and willful sinners. It’s exactly why we must get down on our knees, again and again, day after temptation-filled day, and call out for our Father’s help. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
Pastor T. continues his sermon by saying, “‘My food is to do the will of my Father in heaven.’ Mark you, what he said was: My food is to do the will of the Father. It is not an “extra,” a “dessert,” to which I think about only after the elemental physical needs of my appetite and my life have been appeased, something with which I round out the meal of life by giving it a bit of religious flavor. No, it is my food, it is the principal meal of my life to do the will of God. That is to say: Just as I live by mydaily bread, just as my heart and my eyes and my whole body are driven toward food by the spontaneous urge of hunger, so I live by the will of the Father, so I am driven to him and linked to him with every fiber of my being.”
Profound truth, church, both metaphorically and literally.
Jesus spoke of following his Father’s will as an analogy to His - and our - need to listen to and follow Him moment by moment. Just like meals give us nourishment and energy to do our God-given work, so filling our hearts with His Word and doing His will fuels us spiritually.
But since so many of you spend so much time and energy worrying and fussin’ over food, compare that intensity and consistency to your yearning for His Word and the still, small voice of His Spirit. Are you reading the Good Book for strength and comfort as often as you’re opening the refrigerator seeking the same? Do you crave His commands like you crave snacks and sweets? Are you as obsessed over listening for your Father’s leading as you are with what you plan to eat next?
Possibly therein lays the problem. Instead of trying a new diet, maybe you need to feed more from Jesus’ table. Maybe every time you think you need a sweet treat or a burger and fries from the pick-up window you should bow down your head, take several deep, deep breaths, and pray Pastor Thielicke’s fervent prayer:
“Thanks be to thee, O God, that I may surrender my will to thine. Thanks be to thee that now I can throw overboard all my willfulness, all my own dreams and hopes. Thanks be to thee that I may renounce them all, and that now it no longer hurts me to do so, that it is really no sacrifice at all, but that I can cheerfully put myself in thy hands.”
It no longer hurts me to renounce my own will - my cravings and my excuses - because I’ve put my life and my choices into my Father’s hands.
Thy will be done, Father.
Thy will be done.
*Our Heavenly Father, Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer, by Helmut Thielicke, copyright 1960 by John W. Doberstein, Reprinted 1974 by Baker Book House by arrangement with the copyright owner Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.