His way - Or mine with leanness in the soul?

At our women’s retreat this weekend we had the joy of hearing how God has shown His faithfulness in the lives of a number of women who are part of our fellowship. How amazing to learn the different ways He works in each one’s life! As diverse as each woman’s testimony was though, there were definitely some common strands. One was how God uses suffering to refine His children and cause them to cling to Him alone. Another was that His plan for our lives is often not what we expect or would have planned ourselves.

I’ve been thinking about this last thought for some time now. Do I want my own will, or do I truly desire God’s will? How often we (I) decide what would be best for our own lives, and don’t really want God to have His way with us. Because, as several of the women shared this weekend, our loving heavenly Father rarely gives us the picture perfect life that we dream of, even when our dreams are based on good and righteous goals. Will we trust Him or will we demand our own way?

Sometimes when we demand our own way, God gives it to us. But then the very blessing we have requested becomes instead a curse. Consider the Israelites in the wilderness begging God for some meat rather than thankfully receiving God’s gift of manna. He sent them quail -- and a plague as well. (Numbers 11.) When they later rejected the Lord as their king, asking for a man as king so they could be like their neighbors, God gave them Saul . Later again, Hezekiah “wept bitterly” upon learning that he was about to die, and asked the Lord to remember what he had done. God hears his prayers, sees his tears, and adds fifteen years to his life. During this time, though, Hezekiah’s very wicked son, Manasseh was born. Yes – God is sovereign over all these “wrong” choices! He knew and allowed each one, using them to work His perfect will! But they are written down as a warning to us.

The life of my hero Elizabeth Prentiss can be summed up with the words, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Though her most difficult struggles came over the losses of her children, she is wonderfully honest about her battles to give up her own will with lesser issues as well. Once, later in life, she and her husband were trying to decide if he should leave the busy New York City church he pastured to take a seminary position in Chicago. Neither of them wanted to go, but they desired to be obedient. Elizabeth wrote this to a friend:

The thought of giving up this home makes me know better how to sympathize with you if you have to part with yours. I do think it is good for us to be emptied from vessel to vessel, and there is something awful in the thought of having our own way with leanness in the soul.

This idea of having my own way with leanness in the soul comes from Psalm 106 which says this:

Psalm 106:13-15
13 They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: 14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. 15 And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul. (KJV)

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
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