“But I don’t want Jesus to die,” my son pleaded from the back seat. We were taking our annual trip through The Experience, a live narrative highlighting all the major events of Jesus’ life. It was held every Easter weekend at a local church.
When we pulled our car up to the scene where Jesus was betrayed, it was obvious my son wanted the story to go a different direction. He wanted Jesus to be spared the beating, the mockery and of course, the cross.
Could you blame him?
My husband and I explained how the cross wasn’t the end of the story. We told him about Jesus’ victory over death, sin and darkness. We told him how his suffering was needed to pay the debt we could never pay on our own.
It’s comforting to know the end of the story, isn’t it? My husband and I had the benefit of knowing how this story began and ended. But often in my prayer life, I’m more like my son.
I don’t know how God is going to deliver me from a trial or a difficult season, and I would rather skip through the suffering altogether. Saying “thy will be done” sometimes scares me. My prayers are more like those of a child begging to be delivered from the fire than a student wanting to learn from the ultimate Teacher.
I used to think God despised these types of prayers, until I took a long, hard look at the life of Jesus.
I saw him walking through the Garden of Gethsemane, praying to his Father before death. I saw how at Jesus’ most desperate moment, he asked to be spared too.
Then, despite his deep longing for deliverance, he turns the prayer around.
“…Yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42 NIV
A surrendered prayer doesn’t mean lack of desire for rescue. It means faith in God’s will.
He wants us to bring our longings, our wants and desires to him, but to also know his way is ultimately the best way. He wants us to know He can deliver us from the pain, but also to believe he will give us strength to get through it.
Prayer is not a suggestion or ballot box, but an invitation. It’s an opportunity to know the person who saw us before we were a glint in our mother’s eye, who knows the parts of our story we can’t see yet.
The more I come to him with the expectancy of a daughter climbing into her Father’s loving arms, the more I realize I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to grit my teeth, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
I can relax my shoulders, put my chin up and thank him for the abundant life I know he will give. Sweet, freeing surrender comes knowing I am completely loved.
In the same way Jesus’ surrender to his Father’s will brought redemption, it’s given to us. We humble ourselves before him, and he exalts us, living reflections of the life-giving Light.
Can you think of anything more beautiful than that? Let’s turn our clenched fists into hands open to the life he gives today.