SUBMISSION TO GODíS WILL

 Chapter 13

Our wills are naturally selfish. We love to have our own way. Itís not easy to submit to the will of another, unless thereís some strong motive that impels us to submission. The carrying out of our wills in a selfish way only leads to more selfishness and to a stronger inclination to have our own way. Itís this selfish inclination in the will that makes it necessary for God to demand submission from us. His will is never selfish, but always benevolent. The cheerful doing of it always leads to an increase of benevolence in us. Therefore, when God demands us to submit our wills to him, heís doing that which is best for us. The more consideration for others and true benevolence is developed within us, the more our natures are purified and exalted and the more we are able to fulfill the purpose of our creation.

Submitting to God is often the hardest of all tasks, yet itís the most necessary if weíre to be exalted to fellowship with God and enjoy the highest development of our faculties and powers. Selfishness always tends to degrade. Itís ignoble---exercise tends to dwarf and blight the finest things in our characters. The adoption of a submissive attitude toward God and his will, paves the way for the natural development of those qualities within us which are most worth developing, and which ennoble us most when theyíre developed. The more our souls run out God-ward, the more like him we become; and the more like him we become, the happier and more useful we are. Unselfish devotion to benevolent service toward God and toward our fellow man enriches the heart and life as nothing else can do, and leads the way to happiness, peace, and contentment, which make one truly blessed.

Submission to God is the one necessary thing in order to enjoy the Christian life. The more fully weíre submitted to his will, the more cheerfully we can carry it out, and the sweeter and richer will be the joy of doing it. Reluctant submission to God is not real submission. Reluctant obedience is never real obedience. Itís only when the heart responds to God willingly and cheerfully that the power of such service to make one happy is realized. We must conquer our reluctant wills. ďThe essence of sacrifice of self is the sacrifice of the will. Unwilling offerings are a contradiction, and in fact, there are no such things. The quality of unwillingness destroys the character of the offering and robs it of all sacredness. Reluctant Christianity is not Christianity.Ē

True nobility of both the inner and the outer life comes from submission to, and cooperation with, God. The nature of our relations with God depends upon the extent of our submission to him. This is well illustrated in the relation of husband and wife. When two marry, and thereís no merging of the wills and purposes, but each retains his or her individuality, standing apart from the other in wish and desire, in choosing and willing, their union can never be a happy one. They must yield themselves to each other. There must be a merging of their wills into each other, a combining of their purposes, a consideration of each other, a sacrificing of the individual will. The husband and wife who really love each other can enjoy each otherís society and draw near to each other in spirit and affection. This makes their union a blessed reality, and a source of more true joy than any other natural relation. Those who thus enjoy each other are the ones who have sacrificed self and lost sight of selfish considerations; each desires to please the other and each finds his or her happiness in the happiness of the other.

In the Scriptures, Christ is represented as being the husband of the church, and the church is taught to submit to him as a wife should submit to her husband. The wife submits to her husband because she loves him---if she submits from any other reason she must be unhappy in her submission. The submission, that comes from love, and is the willing response of love, is the source of the deepest and truest happiness that can come from human sources. So the submission to God, which is acceptable to him, and which reacts in blessedness to the soul who submits, must be based upon love. The secret of such submission is thus stated by John, ďWe have known and believed the love that God hath to us.Ē (1 John 4:16) So he exclaims in the next breath, ďGod is love.Ē Only the truly submitted heart can fathom the love of God, or can love God with that self-enriching love, which inspires devotion and causes us to delight in God. The fervor of love softens the will and makes it flexible. When we love, it is easy to obey; it is easy to submit. All the irksomeness and compulsion is taken out of religion when the heart is full of love toward God. The more we love, the easier it is to serve, and the more joyful is that service.

Self-surrender is the heart of all true religion. Paul told the secret when he said of a certain church, that they ďfirst gave their own selves.Ē Then they could endure persecutions. They could bear with patience the things, which came upon them, and still be full of joy. The yoke of God was not galling to them. The sufferings that came upon them were not hard to be borne. They were overrunning with love. Their hearts were knit together with bonds stronger than death. They could be exceedingly joyful in all their tribulations, because they had first given themselves. Oh, the barrenness and unhappiness, in the lives of many persons, because they are trying to give service, when they havenít given themselves! They are trying to serve God, but at the same time theyíre serving themselves. They try to combine these two services, and what an unsatisfying, irksome service they find it! How often their will is contrary to Godís will! How often their will breaks out to claim its own way! This conflict of wills shuts out from their lives the blessed sense of Godís nearness and approval, which is granted to those who have first given themselves; who have yielded their all without reservation to God; who have surrendered themselves, and their wills, and now find a continuous inspiration to service in the delight of their own hearts in serving. A religion, which is not based on self-surrender is a mere form. It is of no more value than the religion of the pagan, for it is the same kind of a religion that he has. True religion is love---love flowing out in devotion, and service, and self-surrender. The forms of religion are nothing without the real inner substance. If we have the form, without the inner content, we are poor indeed; but if we are thoroughly submitted to God, we have the inner content of religion, no matter in what form it manifests itself.

The attitude of our wills toward God is thus beautifully expressed by one writer, ďA manís will, should be an echo, not a voice; the echo of God, not the voice of self. It should be silent as some sweet instrument is silent till the ownerís hand touches the keys.Ē It is self-surrender that tunes all the strings of our hearts to a unison of purpose, and makes them responsive to the touch of the Divine Musician. And when we are attuned to Godís will through self-surrender, our hearts will be filled with his melodies; there will be celestial harmonies in our lives; our hearts will join with the angels in their chorus of praise, and we shall be raised up together with Christ and made to sit in heavenly places with him. Self-surrender is the key that unlocks all the riches of our own natures, and causes them to bud and blossom and produce rich fragrance. Every noble thing in us is made nobler, by submission; every beauty is rendered more beautiful---a thousand new beauties and riches are brought into the life that was not there before. Self-surrender empties our hearts and makes them ready to receive divine treasures. Love, joy, faith, peace, contentment, and all the blessed fruition of righteousness have their roots sunk deep in self-surrender.

Many people seem to think that surrender to God impoverishes men, and that it is a wholly one-sided thing, but God asks that we be emptied of self only that he may fill us and that he may give himself to us in the fullest measure of our capacity and willingness to receive him. If we hold to anything of self, or of the world, itís because weíre not willing to be filled with God and donít believe that he will be to us more than all else beside. All lack of submission, shuts our God from that part of our nature, which is not submitted, and prevents him from having control of that part of the will, which remains un-submitted.

Open the door of thy heart wide. Unlock its every chamber. Hand over the key to God. Entreat him to come in, and fill you to your fullest capacity. Empty your heart of self, all selfish plans, purposes, desires, reluctance of the will and every hesitation to obey. Give him your all. Let not one thing be kept back. When all is his, the floods of his grace will flow into your soul till you will wonder why you ever hesitated to yield your all to him. He yields his all to us. He withholds no good thing when we are yielded to him fully. So the yielding is mutual, although he gives more than we, because he is greater than we. He asks the surrender of our wills only that he may guide us into paths wherein we never could walk without his guidance---paths of peace beneath the sunny skies of his love. Cheerful self-surrender has a wonderful power to banish the gloom and the clouds of human life. The un-surrendered life is like the mountain whose top is ever veiled in clouds.

It has been said, ďPeace is: to will as God wills.Ē We all desire peace, but this is the secret of peace. When we have said, ďNot my will be done,Ē the conflict of wills has ceased. Then we can will as God wills, and his peace which passeth all understanding will fill our hearts; then in the quiet, joyous eventide, the dew of heaven will fall upon our souls, refreshing and blessing them, and calm content will overspread our life like the quiet of the evening twilight.

True happiness is predicted on perfect conformity to Godís will by our wills, both in our characters and in our conduct. The surrendered life is necessarily a happy life, for it possesses the elements of true happiness within itself. The un-surrendered life is an unsatisfied life, always filling itself with evanescent joys, which fade away as soon as they are grasped and leave nothing of satisfaction and contentment behind. ďThe one misery of man is self-will; the one secret of blessedness is a conquest over our own wills. To yield them up to God is rest and peace.Ē Self-surrender ďmeans that our wills are brought into harmony with his, and that means that the one poison drop is squeezed out of our lives, and that sweetness and joy are infused into them, for what disturbs us in this world is not trouble, but our opposition to trouble. The source of all that frets, and irritates, and wears away our lives, is not in external things, but is the resistance of our wills to the will of God expressed by external things.Ē

Itís fighting against circumstances, which makes them hard to bear. Self-surrender smoothes our way, lightens our burdens, fills our hearts with a song of joy, and gives us courage for the battles of life. Where obedience is free, and not reluctant, constant, not irregular, spontaneous, not constrained, we never feel that we have a ďhard row to hoe,Ē for Godís sustaining grace and the joys of his salvation give much strength of soul and such buoyancy of spirit that lifeís conflicts are all won, and our lives are kept sweetly victorious.

The submitted will is not weakened because of that submission. We donít have to be passive and feeble in order to submit to God. Submission frees the will from the bondage of sin, and it can then, act normally. The submitted will is: the will acting with God instead of against him. The un-submitted will, acts against him. The submitted will is an active, vital, powerful will, acting in conjunction with Godís will and directed by his will. Submission doesnít mean the destruction of our will; it only means that our strength will be turned into the right channels, so that we shall desire Godís will. The cooperating will loses none of its strength through submission. It joins its strength with Godís strength, and being directed by him into the most effective channels, it can accomplish what would be impossible for it to accomplish without being surrendered. Our wills should speak, after Godís will speaks. If our wills speak first, they may bring us into many miseries and troubles and be the cause of many failures and sins. We must let God speak, and then when he speaks, echo the same thing. Thus shall we be workers together with God in the accomplishment of his grand and glorious purpose.

People like to have their own way, and often think that if they surrender to God they canít have their own way anymore. However, when we have chosen Godís will as our will, we always have our own way when God has his way. Some are afraid to submit to Godís will lest they should have to give up their own cherished plans or ambitions; lest they should not be able to choose for themselves. But we can always choose for ourselves if we choose what is best, for Godís will is that which is best. If we donít choose Godís will, but choose some other way, weíre choosing less than the best for ourselves. Therefore, we are robbing ourselves of that which is best for us, and we thereby lose the joy and peace that are the fruits of choosing his will.

Some fear to take Godís will, because they distrust Godís fidelity to them, and feel that they can choose best for themselves. This is doubting Godís wisdom and love, for God is wiser than we---his tender love for us will cause him to choose what is best for us, just as a loving parent will choose for his child that which is best for it. We must submit to God in faith. A submission that is full of doubts concerning Godís faithfulness and love is always a hesitating submission, and that very hesitation robs it of the joyfulness that comes from confident, trusting submission.

When we are fully submitted, he sometimes lets us choose our own course. The author has had a number of such experiences, one of which will be mentioned. There was a time when two courses were open, and a choice must be made between the two. To follow either would be doing the Lordís service, but which would please the Lord to follow was not clear, though earnest prayer was made to know the will of the Lord. For a time there seemed to be no answer. Then one day God said, ďYou can do just as you choose; you can go ahead as you are or you can take up the other line of work.Ē This proved a great source of comfort and inspiration to my soul. To feel that God saw in me sincerity enough to do his will to let me choose for myself what sort of work I should do, inspired my heart to faithfulness and to devotion to him, as perhaps nothing else could have done.

In order for God to allow us the privilege of choosing for ourselves in such matters, the will must be wholly surrendered to his will. But what a blessed sense of soul-rest and what enriching of the nature come through this self-surrender! All the blessedness of which we are capable comes to us through the channel of the submitted will, but any drawing back from Godís will, closes the channel and robs us of the blessedness that he would otherwise send.