By Mark Pierson
"Abba, Father,...not what I will, but what You will"
In those moments when anguish settles into the very core of your being...those times when there seems to be no hope, nothing but utter darkness and despair, when all you can do is fall to your knees before God in absolute surrender, for there is nowhere else to turn - it is there that you encounter your Father Who adopted you.
Absolute surrender, when you can't see any other avenues, beyond your own resources, yea, beyond those of any mere human being; undone, naked, at the very end of your rope.Let's face it, there are even times when trials literally come flying at us from every conceivable direction, all at one time, at a dizzying pace, so as to make us wonder "how could God be in control of any of this at all"? Doubt and frustration fill the mind. Angry outbursts can follow.
It would seem that, at times like these, the Lord has chosen to invade, attack, dismantle and enlarge our comfort zone. There is no maintaining or taking of control that we can do; it is entirely beyond our abilities. You find out the hard way that you are not "the captain of your own destiny". You have NO control AT ALL.
Take that brother in Christ whose son has a debilitating disease, whose medical bills are pilling up, and he has just lost his job. Or that Christian couple whose daughter is born with a rare cancer and tumorous growths cover her body. What about the young Christian couple whose six-year-old son contracts a rare disease and shortly thereafter dies. Or, yet again, what about that missionary, faithful to the call of Christ in his life, who now lay in bed with Lou Gherig's disease.
Powerless, helpless, out of control; you fall to your knees and cry out to your Maker; the One who saved your soul from everlasting destruction; the One Who Alone has the Power over such things.We can cling to Him Whose promises are true. He Alone is our Refuge and Shield. He never changes. He will always remain true to His Word; we can bank our lives on that.
Somehow, in the acknowledging of His power and control over the matters and events in our lives, both joyous and grievous, the peace begins to flow into our hearts.The Lord never once promised us a Rose Garden nor to feather our beds. The problems will come. Spouses will abandon; loved ones will contract terminal illness; jobs will be lost; dear ones will die.
In considering our adoptive relationship we do well to remember back at what it took for our Holy Maker to enter into that special relationship with us - that of being our Father.
Believe it or not we were once the children of wrath even as others. We too walked in disobedience and according to the course of this world. If not for God's intervention into our lives we would have gone on to experience the full brunt of His fury on our sins. We would have been outside of His care and favor in this life and subjected to eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire after it was over. No one, no one has attracted God's love and care. If not for His mercy and grace, His sovereign grace in choosing us in His Son before the world was created, we would be the objects of His Holy wrath just like everybody else. Eternal punishment is what we deserve when held up to the Holy Standard, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Unsaved, dead in trespasses and sins, slaves to sin, children of the devil, objects of the coming wrath; that's who we were before the love of God in Christ appeared to us; before the Holy Spirit quickened our hearts to the truth.
Jesus took the punishment we deserved. And, oh how He suffered! God the Father unleashed all of His fury on His Holy Son as He bore our sins in His sinless body. The Holy suffering for the unholy. All to bring to an end the enmity that existed between a Holy God, who is just in His Righteous anger against sin, and sinful creatures as we, who deserve to be recipients of that righteous anger. So now there is peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Peace, no more being at odds, peace now to experience the love of God in all it's breadth, depth, and height. Peace, His care leading and guiding us through life, in all its ups and downs. Peace because now HE has control over us; no longer is it the "spirit that now works in the children of disobedience". Peace, because His promises to us are now "yea and amen" in Christ. Where once existed hostility - God's wrath towards sinful creatures as we, versus our willful disobedience to His decrees and will - now there is harmony to those in Christ.
What did it take to bring about this peace? What did it take to bring together two polar opposites - a Holy Righteous God, with whom is no darkness at all, and unholy, sinful rebellious creatures as we? How could He become our Father and we His children? There was a price to be paid!
Oh, what a price it was. God gave His Son. He gave His Son that we, His elect, might be saved from the wrath to come - that we might be adopted into His family as He puts us into His Son. He has made us accepted in His Beloved Son. "In Him we have redemption through His blood". Ephesians 1:7 says.
Now, let us consider what price the Son paid. Both Testaments paint a graphic picture.
In Isaiah we read: "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting". Isaiah 50:6. ...His visage was so marred more than the sons of men...Isaiah 52:14.By the time the soldiers had gotten done with their mistreatment of Him, He was beaten beyond recognition, even beyond having the form of a man! "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" Is 53:5. Isaiah goes on: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Verse 6. - There's more---"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted---He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter---for the transgression of my people was He stricken. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief:---Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin---by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bare their iniquities---He has poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors - Is. 53:7-12.
In the New Testament Jesus Himself at the Last Supper, while taking bread and wine, which stood symbolically for His body and blood, said of the wine "...this is My blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins."His blood was shed that our sins may be forgiven! - The blood poured from the crown of thorns pressed deeply upon His head. The blood poured from His back from the scourging with the whips laced with glass and bone chips. The blood poured from His face after the pounding He received from the soldiers' fists and from their pulling out of His beard. The blood poured from the nails in His forearms and ankles as He dangled from them on the cross. And, finally, the blood poured when, after His death, the soldier pierced His side with a sword.
Ah, there it is, that "fountain---opened---for sin and uncleanness." There is the means whereby sin can be forgiven and washed away. There is the means whereby we can come before the Throne of the Holy Creator and call Him "Father." From a position of rebellious, disobedient, hostile, morally filthy, unthankful objects of the coming wrath; to the positions of pardoned, forgiven, cleansed, reconciled, adopted sons and daughters of the Most High God! "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool", says Isaiah.
Jesus came to die in our place, IN OUR PLACE!
While hanging on that rugged old cross something happened that never, in all eternity past, nor shall it ever happen again. Something horrible, indeed the most horrible event in all history took place: at the height of His sin-bearing mission the Father turned His Face from the Son. "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" was the Son's cry. Who could possibly imagine what it was like to the Father to turn His Head from the Eternal Object of His love? Who could imagine what it was like for the Beloved Son to experience the Father looking away from Him - a once in eternity experience. For the first time ever, never to happen again, the Son experienced the loss of Fellowship and joy of being in His Father's presence.
That is the price that God paid for His elect! And, oh how we are often tempted to trifle with this knowledge! How, at the slightest turn in our fortunes, are we tempted to question His love and care for us! Even after our regeneration we still have no concept of the price God paid for our adoption into His family. There is no real concept of what it was like for the Holy Father to have to vent all of His Righteous fury on top of His Beloved Son - His Holy, Pure, and Righteous Son. There is no concept of what it was like for the Son to experience the Father turning His head from Him as He bore our sins - "the just suffering for the unjust, that He might bring us to God."
Now, the price has been paid. Now, we can call Him "Father." After His resurrection Jesus said, "I ascend unto My Father, and your Father." He taught us to pray, "Our Father, who are in Heaven, Hallowed be Your Name---." In the Gospel of Matthew alone Jesus referred to His Father as our Father no less than 22 times!"But ye have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Romans 8:15. "And because you are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will---." Eph. 1
Now we can come to Him as His adopted children - He adopted us, it was His will! We can call Him "Father."
We can call Him "Father" of Whom it is written,"---for I am God, there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me." Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure---" Is. 46:9-10.We can call Him Father of Whom it is written, "My times are in Your hand---." My times, every event sweet or sour, pleasant or unpleasant, joyous or sad are in [His] hand." He knows the number of hairs on our head. He, in His Providence, controls all the comings and goings of our lives. Not one trial or experience comes at us without His approval and permission. He, not we, is in control. Nothing catches Him by surprise. Nothing gets by Him. Regardless of our deceptive feelings, everything is in His control - He has the reigns of every trial and tribulation. We can console ourselves with this truth.
But there is more...
We can call Him "Father" of Whom it is written, "You are my Rock and my Fortress---my Strength" Psalm 31:3-4. The mighty King David knew our "Father" as his place to run and hide. He knew our "Father" as his source of strength and comfort. David, a model of manliness and power, shamelessly clung to our Father for protection and strength. The mightiest of warriors taking refuge in his God, our Father! David's hope and trust were not in his own abilities, but in his God, our Father. David entrusted his entire make-up, his emotional well being; his physical safety; his future state, into the hand of his God, our Father. David acknowledged God's Hand in his past and in the present. David knew that as surely as God was in control of all that ever came his way, He would also direct all of his future as well. David's heart took refuge in these truths.The storms; inward turmoil's - depressions, fears, anxieties and terrors - external oppositions of people and events, in all these things he found our Father faithful. David prayed "Into your hand I commit my spirit." God, our Father was his Rock, his fortress, and his strength. There was no better place to commit his spirit.
Oh, the utter surrender and careless abandon with which he threw himself into God's care - and found Him utterly faithful! No reservation, complete dependence on our Father's abilities to uphold, sustain, protect, lead and guide him in his life.
Beloved, there is so much more that we could examine in scripture concerning our Father, but let us for now turn lastly to 1 Peter. While giving instructions to Christian slaves on how to live God fearing lives before their masters, Peter invited his readers to consider Our Lord and how He conducted Himself in the last hours before the crucifixion. Here Peter writes "---Who, when He was reviled did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously." - Our Lord handed over Himself to His Father, our Father, to keep. To borrow the words of John MacArthur in his commentary here Jesus had "perfect confidence in the sovereignty and righteousness of His Father."Knowing full well the sufferings and all of the experiences that lay ahead Jesus "committed Himself" into His Father's care. He did not shrink back or faint at what lay ahead. He did not plot or plan an alternate route. He did not try to take charge of the situation. He did not lower his shoulder and charge into the situation like a fullback into the line of scrimmage. There He stood, full of peace, calm, collected, in the full assurance that His Father was in complete control of the situation. He was there in complete compliance to His Father's will. His Father was in charge. Nothing should befall Him but that which His Father had ordered. Surrender, sweet surrender, total submission, absolute abandon, no reserve, unshaken, utter reliance.
Just hours earlier He had prayed "Abba, Father---not what I will, but what You will."
And there is the lesson...
The One Who in scripture said, "I must be about My Father's business" or "for I always do those things that please Him"; "The One of Whom it is written that He said; "a body you have prepared for Me. ---then I said "Behold, I have come---to do your will , O God." , yes, that One has provided us a model.
Yes, that's it!
Our Lord's whole strength and energy was in the doing of His Father's, our Father's will. The absolute focus and gaze of His life was His Father's Face and being in perfect and total surrender to Him. Oh, what trust. In the midst of false accusations and venomous hatred by the mobs outside His trial, there He stood - in perfect peace. Was His heart-skipping beats do to anxiety? Was His stomach upset about the sufferings that lay ahead? No! That was behind Him now - back at the garden. This is now after the prayer "Not My will ---but Thy Will be done." This now, is the time of reliance on His Father's being in charge. His Father's Face must have been all that Jesus was content to behold in these terrible moments. A scripture that describes Jesus' relationship to His Father is Psalm 16:11b "...In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures for evermore."
"Not My will ---but Thy Will be done." Oh, to behold the lesson taught here! Unselfish devotion to His Father's Will. In John 4 Jesus said, "My meat is to do the Will of Him that sent me." His sustenance, the thing that filled His appetite, was the doing of His Father's will.A very central lesson in Christianity comes to us here, for you see, we too are to live our lives in total submission to our Father's will. His will is to conform us into the image of His dear Son. In the middle of the trials and tribulations that come our way. He is at work molding, melting, breaking, and chiseling our lives like a Master Craftsman. He breaks and hammers away at our lives. He melts us in the heat and fire only to skim away the dross. He shakes us up in order that we don't settle on our lees. How very painful it can be. Yet, it is our loving Heavenly Father, the One Who adopted us at a Great Price, Who is in complete control. Thus, just as our Saviour "committed Himself into His Father's care, we too should pray "Abba, Father not my will but Thy Will be done".
Living for Him, selfless, submissive, and surrendered. Thankful for His promises, thankful that He "the only Wise God" is in control. Thankful that He "who calls the beginning from the ending", the One whose thoughts and ways are higher than ours "as high as the heavens are above the earth", is in control of everything that comes our way. Thankful that we don't have to rely on our own faulty, frail and very mortal wisdom to guide us through life. Thankful that the very most beautiful destiny in all of creation is ours - that of being conformed into the Image of God's Beloved Son, and becoming like Him when we see Him face to face as He comes to take us home to be with Him for all eternity.
In the middle of your darkest hour, in the middle of your manifold temptations, cry out to Him in surrender. Give yourself totally into His care. Weep in His presence "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."Let us close now with a prayer of king David and echoed by our Saviour as His last prayer while hanging on the cross "Father, Into Your Hands I commit My Spirit."