Anyone who has been around children for any amount of time knows the sheer madness that comes when they do not get their way. Unfortunately, it seems adults these days aren’t much better. Our culture is saturated with the theme of having things “my way” or else, make way for the tantrums. Our way is the centerpiece for happiness in this culture and we are fed that message daily in every aspect of our lives. The enemy loves to spoon large helpings of that message down our throats making our souls unhealthy with self centeredness and entitlement.
Wildly successful marketing strategies are formed around this idea of “my way”. Burger King’s slogan is a perfect example: “Have it Your Way!” Why? Because it’s highly memorable and feeds the desire of our flesh to give us what we want, when we want it and for minimal effort.
Take a moment and think about this:
- How quickly do you get irritated when your WiFi is slow?
- How do you respond when you can’t find the remote?
- Or what about when you make a call to a business and they place you on hold?
- Does your vacuum receive a good lashing when its cord won’t retract?
- How quickly does your blood begin to boil when a driver pulls out in front of you and then proceeds to dawdle under the speed limit?
Sounds silly, but when even the smallest of our plans becomes interrupted, we often react with a bit of a fit. Why? Because we’ve been programmed for instant gratification and, bottom line, we don’t like it when things don’t go our way. Ouch, right?
Understanding the heavily self centered culture we live in, how can Christ followers prevent this mentality from bleeding into our Christian walk? As believers, we are taught to seek the Lord’s way at all times but cultural Christianity combined with secular culture has a way of sneaking into our mindset and, all too often, we find ourselves believing lies of entitlement. The lie tells us that, just like Burger King:
- we should not have to be uncomfortable in any way, and
- God should answer our prayers and cause our plans to go our way and, oh by the way, He should do it right now.
But here’s the problem, my way is:
- Rarely my best option
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9 (New Living Translation)
Well that stings a little bit.
My way is based on instant gratification, limited and self-serving knowledge and oftentimes proves to be less than God’s best. I look back at all of the things that I have begged God for in the past, things that I wanted desperately to have happen “my way”. What would my life look like if He had given me all of the things I had asked for? I can look back and remember feelings of hurt and fear when things didn't pan out the way I had expected but now I realize that while I was busy grieving the loss of “my way”, God was working to give me life that was far more abundant.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (ESV)
Suffice it to say, I am thankful that He is a good Father who sometimes responds with a loving “no”. How many times do we actually stop and thank God for not giving us our way? Yeesh. Preaching to the choir over here, sister. The protection of a “no” or a prayer “unanswered” is a highly underappreciated gift from God.
So when I am tempted to pitch a holy fit - because seriously, sometimes Jesus needs to put me in time-out - He reminds me with truth from His Word.
- “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Jeremiah 55:8-9 (NIV) Emphasis mine.
For those not willing to surrender to His sovereignty, this can be a tough scripture to acknowledge, nevertheless, its truth is undeniable. If you profess Christ, you must acknowledge this truth. His ways are not my ways and His mind is not my mind. Our human, control-freak brains naturally want to know the plan, what’s to come and how it’s going to happen. But God’s mind is bigger than ours and He knows what we cannot. He sees outside of time and knows our beginning and end. What’s more, He knows what we have yet to experience and what we will become. His way for us is always the better way.
We cannot say we are pursuing God’s way unless we are focused on the presence of the one who is The Way. Jesus made it clear that He is The Way and no one comes to the Father except through Him. This does not stop at salvation. Jesus reminds us that we are to seek Him as we go about our everyday lives. Trying to find our own way only leads to endless pitfalls and setbacks. Jesus did not come to be our road map to glance at just so we know we’re headed in the right direction only to toss Him aside once we think we know where we are going. Ultimately if our focus is solely on our plans or destination we have missed the whole point of relationship with Him in the first place. But if we focus on The Way and His presence with us, suddenly our way won’t consume us like before. Our need to know will be reduced to quiet trust. Our focus on “our way” will be replaced by our desire to abide with The One who is The Way.
I grew up memorizing the verse as: Commit your way to the Lord and your plans will succeed. The translation is not incorrect but for an immature believer, this verse can easily be misunderstood. You see, it’s easy to create a plan in my head that makes total sense and seems honoring to God. If I follow misled logic pertaining to this verse, all I have to do is commit the plan that I made and then God will somehow be obligated to cause it to succeed. Well, no. God is not obligated to any plans we set our minds to. He remains steadfast in His plan which is solely for the purpose of bringing Himself glory and furthering His kingdom. Therefore our plans will oftentimes not align with His will. The NIV translation of this verse makes the meaning clear in that we are to commit our way to the Lord but it is He Himself that will establish our plans according to what is best for us and for His purpose.
I am notorious for overthinking and overanalyzing when it comes to important decisions - or sometimes just what’s for dinner. I love this verse so much because it totally takes the pressure off of me to get things perfect. When I read words like “perfect” and “flawless”, my first thought is definitely not anything pertaining to myself or my way of doing things. All I see are flaws and imperfections. But if my trust is in The One whose way is perfect, then I don’t have to worry about achieving perfect myself. Whew, that’s such a huge relief! As a busy wife and mom, my energy reserve is always teetering on low so knowing that I can release my way to the Lord brings complete freedom, which is what He desires for me in the first place.
“He shields all who take refuge in Him.” I am thankful for a Heavenly Father who shields me, oftentimes from my own self, aren’t you?
- Take a moment today to reflect on those times where He has said “no”, even if you still don’t understand why
- Thank Him for His goodness and His sovereignty over His plans for your life
- Stop and commit your way - your mind, your heart and your plans - to Him, perhaps truly for the first time
Father, I thank you for your love for me. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to be The Way for me to come to you. I confess that “my way” stands in the way of your best for me and I commit “my way” to you today. Help me to abide in you as you show me your way and your best for me.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Somer Colbert is a wife, mom, daughter, worship leader, writer, contributor, speaker, friend, and too many others to list! Her husband of 15 years is Corey: amazing husband, dad, son, friend, servant leader, occupational therapist, singer and die-hard Razorback and Cowboys fan! She enjoys her crazy life with their three children ages 13, 9 and 5 and can now happily announce the official matching with a boy we can now call our son who waits to join our family from the country of Taiwan! You can read more of her thoughts at https://ahavahinourhearts.com/.