When God Does What He Wants and It’s Not What You Want

Yesterday, I taught the high school Sunday school class, spent time in worship at church, studied the Bible in the afternoon and worked on the Christian novel I’m writing. This morning I woke up, spent time praising God, read the Bible and focused myself in prayer for about an hour.

Flash forward to about eleven o’clock today and I get a call. Earlier, I’d prayed about a specific situation and I’d asked for some very specific things and guess what?

God did the opposite.

Like 180 degrees opposite of what I’d asked. Like, rather than the situation being improved it got devastatingly worse! Like the only way it could have been this bad is if He WAS listening and decided to negate every specific request quite specifically.

Did I feel rejected? Did I feel unloved? Did I feel like He was being unfair and that the answer to my prayer wasn’t exactly in line with what I deserved?

Well, yeah, actually.

Wouldn’t you?

But, once again, I thought about the passage I had just read in the book of Mark (you know, right before all that specific prayer). I had read through Mark 14 which is about the Last Supper (you remember it from the Da Vinci painting) and the night Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane pleading with his Father to find another way.

It reads like this: “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Mark 14: 32-42 NIV)

This is one of the most meaningful passages of scripture to me. I mean, at the dawn of time there was another garden and in that one, we were sold out by Adam and Eve who chose their own will over God’s. They ate the fruit and passed on the pit to every generation since.

But here, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus chooses God’s will over His own and the fruit of that choice is passed to whoever will receive it. Poetic. Cosmic. So like God.

What is important not to miss in all this is that Jesus asks His Father something very specific “Take this cup from me.” He calls God “Abba” which is roughly equivalent to “Papa”. Jesus was perfect. The Father was pleased with Jesus and said so. Jesus knew how to pray and prayed daily. Jesus walked with God but in this matter, God did not give Him the answer to His prayer – well, not that part of it. He answered the other part, “Yet, not what I will, but what you will.”

I want what I want. God knows that. What God wants is for me to trust Him – even when He doesn’t do what I want.

I’m working on it.

When I got that call today it was a setback in the moment but I knew – I knew my Abba, Father had heard me. I know He loves me. I know He is the center of all things, not me – not my life, not my requests. I know He works all things together for good for those who love Him – and I do.

And I remembered Jesus who made the right choice in the garden – a choice that led to the undoing of an ancient curse that had destroyed humankind from birth since the first generation.

Wow.

So tomorrow, I’ll get up and I will spend time praising God and I will study the Bible and I will focus in prayer and I will go deeper in this adventure with Jesus, deeper and deeper still because He is all the answer I really need.

Really.

Spent any time in the garden lately? What choice did you make?


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11 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Mike says:

    Been dealing (and by “dealing”, I mean “wrestling”) with some areas of conflict between He and me. Thanks for illuminating the dark areas! 🙂

  2. We all need a spotlight on our issues sometimes, Mike. I’ll be praying for you, Dude. God loves those who wrestle. Read Mark 14 over and over and know that Jesus wrestled out of obedience to His Father and love for you!

  3. I know you know this but I have to “re” know it all the time when I want what I want.

  4. Andrea says:

    Oh my, Lori: This really spoke to me b/c I am praying about something specific regarding a young adult and feeling a bit like you!! THANK YOU for reminding me GODS plans are NOT my plans and ultimately HE knows best even if it is painful.
    Blessings and hugs, andrea

  5. Blessings in the young person’s direction, Andrea! And yours. It’s hard to trust Him through “No” but Jesus led the way. Good to have you drop by.

  6. In my time in the Garden today, I realized it’s not about getting a miraculously changed heart all at once so that I can walk on my own two feet from now on. It’s about depending…and depending…and depending…and depending…and depending…and depending…for the rest of my life.

  7. I struggle with that. I wrote about it in December in a post http://loristanleyroeleveld.blogspot.com/2009/12/tis-better-to-receive-scandal-of.html
    About how we’ll NEVER pick the check up for God and somehow we keep trying. Thanks for the reminder, Betsy!

  8. Cheri says:

    “What is important not to miss in all this is that Jesus asks His Father something very specific “Take this cup from me.” He calls God “Abba” which is roughly equivalent to “Papa”. Jesus was perfect. The Father was pleased with Jesus and said so. Jesus knew how to pray and prayed daily. Jesus walked with God but in this matter, God did not give Him the answer to His prayer – well, not that part of it. He answered the other part, “Yet, not what I will, but what you will.”

    I want what I want. God knows that. What God wants is for me to trust Him – even when He doesn’t do what I want.”

    Lori, this just ministered so much to me. Thank you. So often, when God doesn’t answer as I ask Him to or as I expect, I think it’s because of me, that I’m in sin and He isn’t hearing me, and sometimes that exactly the case, but not always.

    Now, I know in my heart that He hears, but… I mean, if He heard, than why a different answer? I was once counseled that we can freely ask of God, but if we pray answers, we must be careful to let Him still be God. He is God, and we are not. He doesn’t answer to us, and He doesn’t have to answer as we want Him to.

    Currently, I’m praying about my daughter and her boyfriend… I’d like to pray an answer, but instead, I’m just asking for His will. He’s smarter than me, so I know He’ll do the right thing. *wink*

    Did you ever read the Mitford series by Jan Karon? Remember Father Tim’s prayer that never failed? He prayed for God’s will in any given situation. I still think about that sometimes.

    Anyhow, once again, your blog has blessed me today!

    Have a beautiful day,
    Cheri

  9. The Mitford series is on my list! More so, now!

  10. Living Water says:

    I know the exact feeling of what it means to see things getting worst rather than better after a prayer. Like you, I am also learning what it means to pray, “If it is possible, remove this cup from me, yet not my will but Yours be done.”

    During those times, I feel unloved, and sometimes I plead with God to grant mercy. Yet through all these, I know God has a purpose for my welfare and not for calamity to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

  11. In God’s own perfect timing, His will, not ours. That’s what I keep reminding myself. Really enjoyed reading this.