You Never Do Anything You Don’t Want to Do
by Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com
Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. – Galatians 6:5, The Message
If I try, I can remember my friends from 10th-grade Sunday School. In fact, I’m still tight with two of them. I remember our church, our youth group, and our youth minister. What I don’t remember so well are the individual lessons we learned from the Bible each week. As I realize that, I give myself another kick for not having gotten into note-taking and journaling. I’d like to have those things to review now.
What I do recall from one particular class session, however, has always stuck with me. And it wasn’t even a quote from the Bible. To show how much I’ve forgotten, I don’t even remember the name of the teacher who said it! He was tall, well-accomplished in business, but still wanting to give of his time to young men. And one day he looked at us and said the following:
“Today’s lesson is going to be very short. Look at me, because whatever you remember from today, remember this. Whatever you remember from your time in this youth group, remember this: You never do anything you don’t want to do.”
That was it. Obviously I still remember it. Why?
I also remember challenging the teacher on that day, most of us scoffing and saying things like, “Yeah, right… I can honestly tell you I do not want to do my homework tonight.”
“Yes you do.”
“No, I really don’t.”
“What will happen if you don’t?”
“Well, I guess I’d be embarrassed when it was time to turn it in, I’d probably have to lie to my parents when they asked if I’d done it yet, and I wouldn’t be prepared for the upcoming quiz.”
“So I guess the reason you’re going to do your homework is because for the motives you just stated, you DO want to do it.”
I wanna do my homework? … Wow, I want to do my homework! What a relief to not have to dread it, but to face it gladly because I recognize my want.
A dozen high school boys just got handed a logic lesson in responsibility, desire, and motivation. All around the room you could see eyes and minds opening to new possibilities.
This is what we’d been hearing about free will. But now contextualized and personalized.
This is what our parents and teachers had been getting at as they spoke to us about becoming responsible young men.
This would make me own all my actions and reactions, decisions and indecisions. And, surprising myself, that was a concept I could handle.
The applications were everywhere.
I’m still not even sure his statement was absolutely true, or necessarily biblical. But to be honest, it doesn’t matter anymore, because it informed and continues to inform many things in my life that are true and biblical.
Do I want to lay in bed or do I want to get to work? Why or why not?
Do I really “want” that sportscar, or can I put it out of my mind to burden me no more since it conflicts with several of my primary wants?
Why am I overweight? In my case, I don’t have to be. My bad. Guess I wanted that, too, when you get down to the nub of it. Certainly didn’t do the things I knew would prevent it.
One of the doors that opened to me was in realizing that once I got past “my will be done,” I could begin to pray as Jesus did, “Your will be done.”
Another was in being able to recognize motivation. Why am I going to conquer this lust or pursue this knowledge or accomplish this hard task for God’s Kingdom? Because ultimately, what I want to do is to have my heart’s desires be the same as God’s. That’s where he tells us delight is, and that’s the only place where we know what we want is right.
When Everything Overwhelms, How Do We Overcome?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
“Hey, that’s where great-grandpa and grandma live!” My kids excitedly point to the senior housing community as we drive by, and instead of correcting them, I nod in agreement and choke back tears. My husband’s grandfather passed away a couple of months ago, but it still feels as though he’d be standing at the door, eager to welcome us in if we were to visit.
Death is such a strange thing. It is at once final and yet … not. And grief after death lingers with no end.
I’m surprised by my sadness, and I chide myself for not being over it yet. After all, do I have a right to be so sad when I had only known him for the last 10 years of his 90 years of life? Should I still be crying when I was just his granddaughter-in-law? I wrestle with these questions, but in a moment of grace toward myself, I push away the critic’s voice in my head and let the tears run down my cheeks.
These days, loss is compounded by more loss. I attend a funeral and watch a mother weep as she buries her daughter. I notice the weariness in people’s eyes — in my own eyes — as we try to figure out how to make it through another day. I hear the fear and anxiety that uncertainty brews. I lament in anger for Black mothers and fathers and children who are not safe sleeping in their beds, going for a run, making mistakes and being human.
Each death, each act of violence, each oppressed silencing and each loss feels like waves crashing over me, and I am overwhelmed. I don’t know if I can swim to the surface to catch a breath or find a way to the shore. I long for solid ground, to lie still and rest, and I cry out to God — How much longer, Lord?
My strength is made weak by the constant barrage of what this year keeps throwing at us, and in my helplessness, I remember Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I repeat the verse over and over, and in His words, I hear truth and hope. The truth is that we will have trouble in this world. We will face abandonment, loneliness, hatred and death. Out of love and kindness, Jesus wants us to be aware rather than surprised when these things happen; they are to be expected.
Then, He gives this two-fold promise of hope: First, when everything is chaos, we can have peace in Him. Second, we can be encouraged because Christ has already overcome the world.
We can get through hard things because we follow a God who has gone through every hard thing and has come out of it victoriously. When we are weary and we feel like we can’t take another hit, we can be encouraged. We can overcome. Christ has gone before us, and in Him, our weaknesses are the platforms from which His power shines.
Take heart, friend. We have a God who understands, who has endured and who helps us to do the same.
Knowing God Is Able
God is able to do whatever He promises. — Romans 4:21 NLT
Faith means knowing God is able to do all that He has promised. You may not understand how. You may not know where or when. It may seem utterly, completely impossible. But for all the things you do not know — for all the odds stacked against you — in faith, there is one thing you do know:
God is able, and He will deliver that which He has promised to you.
Begin a list of all that God has promised you — and add to it with each new promise you discover in His Word. Begin with Psalm 121.
Which of God’s promises is most important to you and your faith right now? Write out a prayer of praise declaring that you know He is able to keep that promise in your life.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. — Galatians 5:6
God is love… and so faith in God must have love. It’s loving God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength (Mark 12:30). And it is accepting that God’s love for you is both endless and unconditional (Romans 8:38-39). Because God’s love for you gives you every reason to have faith, and your faith gives you every reason to show the world how much you love Him.
Why does God’s love for you give you every reason to put your faith in Him?
Does your faith express itself in love? Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Why do you believe the expression of love is so important to faith — your own and others’?
Taking God at His Word
For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it. — Luke 7:8
“Say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:7). Such was the faith of a humble Roman centurion, and his faith amazed even Jesus (Luke 7:9). That man knew — what all those who put their faith in God know — that He is able to do all He has said He will do. So when God says He will forgive and save, help and guide, love and protect…
faith takes God at His word.
Compare the faith of this centurion to the faith of Thomas in John 20:24-29. Which one more resembles you and your faith?
Is there any area of your faith where you most struggle to take God at His word? Write out a prayer asking God to show you His faithfulness.
Excerpted with permission from The Weekly Faith Project copyright Zondervan.