For a long time, it’s seemed to me that when I care intensely about something, I lose it. Whatever my emotional energy is poured into, it turns to dust and ashes. Things flourish in my life when I try to do my duty, and when I do care, but when they are “out of the corner of my eye” (so to speak) rather than my gaze being directed on them.
I reached a point, recently, where this seemed bitterly unfair. I complained to God that I felt like I couldn’t stand losing anything I cared about anymore. That I was afraid of a life where every time I intensely loved or desired something, it would slip out of my grasp. I asked for His peace, because I needed it so very much.
And then one of my friends made a comment which turned my perspective upside down. We were talking about something else, and she suggested that I should pray “Make Your Will my will”. God spoke to me through her, I think.
I had been praying for what I wanted, adding a scared but sincere: ‘as You will, so may it be, and help me to respond to these things as a good and perfect Christian would’. I had been starting from the basis of what I wanted, asking God (if it could be His Will) to bring about those things. I wanted to make my will God’s Will. I understood not getting what I asked for (if it was something that seemed like it would be good for me) as punishment for my sins, and getting what I wanted as an utterly undeserved sort-of-reward for my feeble attempts at “being good”. I saw my losing things as punishment for a kind of idolatry, and my being given things I had once lost as a reward for not caring so much anymore. I don’t think I was entirely wrong; but, clearly, I wasn’t seeing things entirely right either. Every loss of what (seemingly good thing) I desired left me despairing that I would always sin too much, or care too much, and so would never be able to hold onto the things I wanted the most.
I was, and am, guilty of idolatry. There are things of this world I think and care about too much. The Lord God is often not the number one in my thoughts and my heart. Quite possibly, that is at least part of the reason why I lose the things I idolise. But what is the solution to all this?
I must keep asking God to make His Will my will. If what I desire is what He desires then it will be the right thing, and then I shall not lose it. What He Wills is best of all – better than what I think, in my ignorance and foolishness, is best for me. And God’s Will is done. In union with God’s Will, there is happiness, peace and security. I can lay all my worries aside, and just pray, every day, that God’s Will is my will.
I don’t know quite what this should look like in terms of prayer. I’m used to a shopping list of requests, with an ‘as You Will’ tacked on the end. I need to keep praying that the Lord shows me how to pray right. I’m not sure how far there is still a place for those shopping lists of requests in my prayer life. But now I know, in the times of anxiety that trouble my heart, the true balm is to pray ‘Make Your Will my will’. And that gives me peace.