It happened many years ago...
Steam rose from my coffee mug. I took a long sip, and stared out the kitchen window. It was another gray and dreary morning in Southern California. Not even a hint of sunlight poked through the thick marine layer outside. And inside, in the depths of my soul, it was not much different. My heart felt heavy, weary and dark. I was beginning another day filled with resentment and frustration, all because of something I desperately wanted. For weeks, like an immature child, I had been begging God to give it to me. And sadly, for the first time in my life, I could NOT end my prayer with, "Nevertheless, not my will but Thy will be done!"
My husband and I were at crossroads. He was just about to finish four grueling (for me) years of law school. I wanted to go one way and he wanted to go the other. What started as a grand adventure four years earlier had become a exhausting journey for me. I never imagined how hard it would be to move away from family and friends. Or, how demanding it would be to support my husband and raise our four young children while he worked, attended law school and studied. The cost of following God's call had taken it's toll on me.
I made many new friends during our time in San Diego, but I kept my roots in Phoenix. Law School was almost over. Our purpose for moving was nearing an end, and I wanted to go back "home!" Surely, God knew how much I needed to be near my children's grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins as well as my old friends. I begged God to open doors and provide a job for my husband in Arizona. And all the while, a wonderful job opportunity seemed to pursue my husband right where we were.
That gloomy morning, gazing out my window, I realized the desire to move was going to consume me. The longing had become my god. And that meant I was no longer yielded to the One True God I had surrendered my life to so many years before. Suddenly, I knew what I had to do. I put my coffee cup down, opened the silverware drawer and grabbed a large spoon. Then I headed to the backyard. I went straight to my garden. Overgrown and full of weeds, I knelt down in the cool, brown dirt. And there, I poured out my heart to God. I told Him everything He already knew and beseeched Him to let me move back to the place I called home.
There in the middle of my lifeless garden, I took the spoon and slowly dug a deep hole in the soft, loose soil. Then, into that small grave, as an act of surrender I laid down my hurt and my hopes, my pain and my dreams, my weariness and my needs. Afterwards, with tears and prayers, one scoop at a time, I quietly covered my garden grave where I also buried my stubborn, selfish and consuming will. And finally, I sincerely prayed, and told God, "Not my will, Father, but THINE BE DONE!"
I looked up at the gray sky. And, at that moment, the clouds parted, just slightly, and a small stream of sunlight shined down from heaven on me and my little altar. As I basked in the light, God's peace filled my heart and I knew He had accepted my offering. Tears streamed down my cheeks as the warmth of the sun touched my skin and the power of God melted the darkness in my heart.
Believe it or not, a few weeks later, my husband was offered two jobs on the same day. One was in Arizona and one was in California. "Really Lord?" I cried as I remembered my garden sacrifice. My precious husband was willing to take the job in Phoenix for my sake. But we both knew God's will was the job in San Diego. I confess it still wasn't easy, but here I am, many years later, happy and so thankful that God called us to stay in Southern California. And, I can now see that even on gray days and even far away from family, I am smack dab in the center of God's loving and perfect will for my life.
How about you? Have you ever desperately wanted something? Have you ever had difficulty praying, "Not my will, but Thy will be done?" Or perhaps you are in the middle of that battle now? I would love to hear from you. I pray the Lord will shine His light on you, give you His peace and that you will say, "Lord, let Thy will be done!"