Across the will of Nature
Leads on the path of God;
Not where the flesh delighteth
The feet of Jesus trod.
O bliss to leave behind us
The fetters of the slave,
to leave ourselves behind us,
the graveclothes and the grave.
~ by Gerhard Tersteegen
The first two lines of this poem have been coming to mind often the last few days, so I had to look them up. It’s the first stanza of a poem which Amy Carmichael found inspirational. I had thought it was one of Amy’s, but I probably just first came across it in her biography.
There was a little ditty going around when my kids were teens: “Just two choices on the shelf: pleasing God or pleasing self.” One of my sons just hated that because it made it sound like any personal choice, from liking meatloaf to walks on an autumn day, were directly opposed to God. That’s one problem with reducing doctrine to a catchy phrase.
On the other hand, it is true that we have an old nature that above all else wants its own way, and often that runs contrary to what God wants or what other people want. That’s been my problem this week (well, really, my whole life. Some years ago I did a Bible study on wanting our own way – it was quite eye-opening). There are duties in my life that I really wish I did not have to deal with, but as they are squarely in my path, placed there, I am sure, by God, they’re mine to do. I wrestle with this often, and know there is nothing to do but do them and pray for a better attitude. I wish I could once for all work this out in my thinking and have the “don’t want to” go away forever. But it doesn’t work like that.
I’m sure that’s one reason Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
I’m immeasurably thankful that, though “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way,” God, in His love and patience, did not leave us there. Instead, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…1 Corinthians 13:4-5
(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday)