Not My Will, But Yours – Mark Appel

October 27, 2016

People have differing views on what faith is. Often people think of faith simply as a feeling or an idea that gives you hope for a certain situation. When things aren’t going well, someone will tell you, “Just have faith.”  Someone who is really nice to others, or honest, is often described as “faithful.”


But faith in Jesus is our saving grace. The Bible is very clear that as far as salvation goes, we are saved by grace through faith alone, not by works.


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” —Ephesians 2:8-9


But faith doesn’t stop there. In the book of James, we see that faith and works are very connected. Faith is made real through the works of those who believe. Faith, in fact, is a belief so strong in something that the corresponding “works” become natural.


“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” —James 2:17


When I think of faith, I picture a tree. Our souls are planted as a tree in God’s vineyard when we are saved (by God, through our faith in Jesus!) and the life of the tree is seen in the fruit produced by the strength of our faith. You can tell how strong a person’s faith is by the life they live for Christ as well as the effect that their life has on those around them. If you see the fruit of the Spirit laid out in their lives, you can know that person is rooted in Scripture.


“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” —Galatians 5:22-23


I’ve had many times in my life when I’ve struggled physically, emotionally, or spiritually, when my faith has wavered. When these things happen in our lives, we tend to lose focus on where our identity lies.


A few years ago I went through one of the hardest seasons in my life. While playing ball in Lancaster, I struggled daily to show up to the field and be excited about baseball. I felt like a failure and I didn’t know where to start to right the ship. It was almost as if I needed an explosion to shake me out of it. One day that happened, as I was throwing baseballs in the locker room, crying out to God, I finally became honest with God. I had been trying to put on that I had everything put together when I didn’t. I was trying so hard to please my teammates, coaches, and fans and become who I thought I needed to be instead of accepting who I am and who God is making me to be.


What I learned from that time is that faith isn’t about seeing the results we want to see, it’s not about seeing results for our kingdom. Faith is about trusting God to bring results for His Kingdom. I was trying to hold onto the things of this world: My security, my home, my goals, and dreams, but as those began to slip out from under me I started to lose myself. I had to figure out who I was and whose I was. I belonged to God as a child of the King.


As Jesus walked on this earth, He followed every step that God paved for Him. Every thought of His was what God desired for Him, not necessarily what He desired. On the night that Jesus was arrested He asked God if there was any way that the cup could be taken from Him. He was about to go through something that would ultimately defeat sin and death but He didn’t want to go through it—this shows just how human Jesus was. But He was faithful to God’s plan. He ended His prayer with, “Not my will but Yours.”


“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” —Luke 22:42


That is how we should pray and have faith that God’s will be done. It’s OK to not desire the circumstances that come into your life, but ultimately we want to desire God’s will.


Leading up to my moment of honesty with God, my prayers were, “Take this cup from me,” but I ended it there. I wasn’t willing to say, “Not my will but Yours be done.” When I was finally able to trust in Him and surrender my will, God took over and brought me through. No longer did the circumstances around me control my peace, only God’s Spirit did.


When we pray Kingdom-minded prayers, God hears us and is ready to answer. Often we need God’s help to have this type of faith. Our prayer might match the father of a young boy who was healed by the hand of Jesus:


“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” —Mark 9:24


—Mark Appel


Mark Appel is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.


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