God never looks over to us when we question his will and responds, “Just say ‘Yes.’” Rather, he prefers a free will responding to the question, “What do YOU think?” My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.
Growing up I was more accustomed to hearing commands as opposed to entreaties. “Clean you room!” This was more commonly heard than, “Why don’t you clean your room?” Or, “Cut the lawn.” I don’t recall being lured into cutting it with some sort of reward or responding to a plaintive, “It sure would be great if you cut the lawn?” Typically it was a directive and not a plea of some sort. I completely understand the logic of the discipline here. Given the opportunity to opt out of chores in favor of fun was alluring to me as with any kid. “No, I think I will clean my room next week when the weather isn’t so nice and I could be riding my bike right now.” That wouldn’t have gone over so well with my Mom. “Sorry Dad, but cutting the lawn right now would be inconvenient for me since Billy and I were planning to walk downtown and buy some baseball cards.” I don’t think my Dad would have sighed, walked away from that one, shaking his head wondering if he had chosen the right words. Chores required discipline, the one thing most ten-year-old boys recoiled at. I needed to be motivated growing up to comply with the regimen of chores and duties dictated by being a part of the Brunner household, as it was my nature to be noncompliant if at all possible.
Dealing with children, more or less inclined to disobey, most often requires a direct approach to ensuring compliance is achieved when it comes to the matter of chores and duties. However, as we grew older, more mature, our parent’s mode of communicating their desires for us changed. Directives began to become inquiries as trust began replacing will.
Here’s a story. A young man and his fiancé, anticipating marriage, visited with their minister to sign some pre-wedding ceremony papers customarily required by their church. Each thoughtfully read through the documents filling in the blanks and placing signatures where required, with the young woman finishing first. The young man, being a slower reader, lagged a bit behind. While filling out his forms, he read a few of the questions aloud to himself. When he got to the last one, which read: “Are you entering this marriage at your own free will?” he paused and looked over at his fiancé with a blank stare. She frowned and quickly replied, “Put down ‘Yes.’” (Lilyan van Almelo, Reader's Digest, May 1993, p. 138. Adapted.)
Dictating is effective with some things, at some times, especially when you’re a parent. The matter of free will was on the table at all times for me growing up. Ultimately I could disobey and endure whatever punishment my parents felt appropriate for the infraction. I did have free will. In a very real sense God gives us an even better deal when it comes to following his will and being the disciple he wants us to be. The relationship he desires is one of trust, not one based on what he dictates we ought to do. If you notice in Scriptures he reaches out with the entreaty as opposed to the dictate. Why is this? In a very real sense it’s because he isn’t dealing with our will, sinful as it is, but with a heart that’s already been softened up by the power of his Holy Spirit. As we grew as children, so did our hearts. Finally as adults our hearts were ready to accept the pleas of our parents where as a child they were not. So it is with our role as a disciple. God works on our heart with his Spirit, who softens the will, and then he asks us to obey out of love. God never looks over to us when we question his will and responds, “Just say ‘Yes.’” Rather, he prefers a free will responding to the question, “What do YOU think?” May we also offer others the same gift of love you offer us, no strings attached, never telling, always asking.
We pray. Thank you Lord the free will that you grant us to be the disciples you want us to be. We are also thankful that you are not a God who dictates your love, but provides it to us freely as a gift that we can accept or reject. Forgive us Lord, however, when we attempt to dictate that same freely given love to others as a command and not a free gift. We need to offer that love just as you offer it to us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)
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