I had to chuckle as I read these chapters today. Not so much because what I read was funny, but because what I read was so me. (Sadly).
Paul was heading to Jerusalem. Along the way, all kinds of people told him not to go, that only trouble waited for him there. Agabus, a prophet, specifically told Paul that he would be arrested if he went to Jerusalem.
Well, that did it. When the people heard what the prophet said they pleaded with Paul to change his plans. They begged and wept trying to get him to give up this crazy idea of going to Jerusalem. But Paul was adamant. He was going to Jerusalem in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ whether they liked it or not.
When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” (21:14)
Maybe it’s the wording in the NIV, but that is where I chuckled at the foolishness. They did everything they could to convince Paul to do what they wanted him to do. Then, when they finally realized he was having none of it, THEY GAVE UP.
That is totally understandable. Eventually you quit beating a dead horse. But the sad thing is, it was only when they had given up their own efforts did they say, “The Lord’s will be done.”
To me it sounds the equivalent of an adolescent trying to get his friends to do something he wants to do, then when the friends aren’t interested in giving in saying, “Fine. Have it your way.”
“Fine. Have it God’s way.”
I wish I could tell you I have never said that myself. After praying for something, trying to manipulate circumstances in my favor, thinking positive thoughts, and realizing I’m not any closer to getting my way than I was at the start, I then take a deep breath and pray, “Not my will but Thine be done.”
So foolish. God is reminding me today that having His will accomplished in my life needs to be my first thought, my first wish, my first prayer. Paul’s friends were right. Paul was arrested and beaten in Jerusalem just like they’d feared. But Paul had said he was willing to be bound, even killed for Jesus’ sake there in Jerusalem. He trusted God that much.
Friend, wanting God’s will in our lives should never be a last resort. I’m pretty sure those of us who know Him would say without hesitation we want God’s will in our lives. Then, from the start we need to learn to say:
I give up.