When you were young, do you remember your parents telling you to get in the car to go somewhere, but not telling you the destination? As a child, that car ride may be frustrating or confusing, but in the end, you could be sure that you were not being put in danger. Your parents were responsible and you could trust that they would protect you from anything or anyone that would hurt you.
Recently on The Inner Life, Josh Raymond recalled such a story from his childhood. When he was 8 years old, he and his parents went to visit his sister who lived in California. One morning, without any preamble, his father told him to follow him outside and to get in the car. As they began their journey to the secret destination, Josh remembers that he eventually asked his dad, “Where are we going?” He doesn’t remember his father’s exact words, but he does remember that he was vague in the way he answered. Over half an hour later, they pulled into a parking lot. They approached a gate, paid for tickets, and entered the property.
It was then that Josh realized they had just arrived at the Great America amusement park just outside San Jose. It was Josh’s first time in this type of environment, and he fell in love with everything. He went on his first real rollercoaster, he played the carnival games, he ate the food, and he had a great time. He remembers sitting in the car on the way back with a huge grin on his face, and he bounced up and down the whole ride home. Josh knew to obey his father because he trusted that he would take care of everything, regardless of where they were going.
“It didn’t matter if we were going to an amusement park or if it was only a short trip out to the hardware store. I knew he would take care of everything. It would all work out fine in the end. Now, do you have that same sort of trust that God is in control of everything in your journey through life?” God doesn’t always tell us how things are going to go, so how can we trust that God will make sure everything turns out okay if we give Him control?
Josh welcomed Father Ethan Southard onto the show to talk about accepting and abandoning ourselves to God’s will, as well as learning to understand the ways that God will make His will known to us.
Josh began by asking for the best way to find God’s will. Father Ethan went back to the gospel, specifically the instances before Christ’s passion. Right after the Last Supper, Jesus tells His disciples that He will only be there for a little while longer. But after He goes, they should “love one another as I have loved you.” At the core of God’s will is the desire for us to imitate Christ, specifically in the way he loves others. He doesn’t give a litany of instructions or a complex formula. He gives us the second greatest commandment. Love your neighbor as yourself.
And just a few passages later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, we see the greatest example of the acceptance of God’s will in the ultimate act of love for mankind. “He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:39) “Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, ‘My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!’” (Matthew 26:42) And with that, Jesus subjected Himself to the Father’s will and shouldered all the sins of the entire world. He would sweat blood, be crowned with thorns, be beaten, scourged, and spit on. He would be mocked, tortured beyond human comprehension, and then crucified for our sins. There is no greater act of love.
Josh brought up that throughout our lives, we experience a tremendous amount of suffering, instances of heartbreak, disappointment, frustration, and anxiety. How do we get past that pain to allow ourselves to love again and thereby discover God’s will for us? Father Ethan recalled Josh’s story of getting into the car with his father to go for a ride and used that level of trust as an example of the way we should perceive God. Compared to the least trustworthy person we know, we should understand that God would never do anything to hurt us or lead us astray. And compared to the most trustworthy person we know, we should understand that God is infinitely more trustworthy than even them.
We will be tested in life. We will suffer. We will fall down, get kicked, and sometimes it will feel like we are broken. But at the end of the day, there is only one who will be there to raise us up, no matter the situation. There is only one who will be waiting with open arms to embrace us, clean our wounds, and set us on our way to salvation: Our Father in Heaven.
Listen to the whole conversation below:
Tune in to The Inner Life weekdays at 11am CT