Posted on January 7, 2015
#87: The Right Orientation
A few days ago, Jim was trying to describe for me a new route he’d found—a faster way to get to a favorite spot. I knew the intersection he was talking about. But he said to turn left where there was no road. I was sure that only a right turn was possible there. For several minutes we struggled to understand each other. Then we realized that he was picturing the intersection as if coming into town, while I was viewing it as going out of town. When I saw his perspective, I could follow his directions. The right orientation was all I needed.
Hold that thought while we do a quick glance back at Mark 14. Get your Bible and skim through the chapter, reviewing the chain of events we’ve studied over the past few weeks—
• from the ugly venom of Jesus’ enemies (including, sadly, Judas) to the beauty of His anointing by Mary
• from the Passover’s age-old Feast of Unleavened Bread, to the establishment of the brand-new Lord’s Supper—Communion
• from the disciples’ declarations of loyalty to Jesus, to their desertion—and in Peter’s case, denial—in His hour of need
• from Gethsemane where Jesus committed Himself to His Father’s will, to the home of the high priest where an illegal “trial” launched the unfolding of that will.
Now look through the chapter again, watching for indications that Jesus knew in advance all that was about to happen to Him. How many do you find?
Mark 14 is chock full of evidence that Jesus knew the future as clearly as the present. None of His final week’s events came as a surprise to Him. He knew it all. Yet, while holding full power to stop it at any moment—to rescue Himself—He moved ahead doing the Father’s will. How could He know and still choose to do? Because of His orientation: He trusted that His Father’s will was perfect and that obedience to it was exactly the right direction to take.
We say, “I want to be at the center of God’s will.” Yet for all our talk, our orientation is usually quite different.
I happily follow God’s will while it aligns with mine. But when His will takes me in an unexpected direction, when it’s not tracking the way I want it to, I say everything’s going “wrong.” I wonder what He’s doing and if He’s hearing my prayers. Night after night, I explain my case to Him in the wee hours. My perspective is clear: the way I will my life to be is good, and He’s messing it up. If I had the power to rescue myself and set things “right,” I’d do it. I want God to get everything back to the way it’s supposed to be—according to me.
My orientation puts my will at the center. Jesus’ orientation put God’s will at the center. The only way to bring all things around to a proper perspective is to say as Jesus did, “Not what I will, but what You will.” (Mk. 14:36)
To say it and mean it requires
1) total trust that God’s will for me is 100% perfect. My will may not be right, but His always is. He makes no mistakes, and He doesn’t toy with my life. By faith I accept that He sees what I can’t see, and that He always has a right outcome in view.
2) determination to obey His will, based on belief that He’s 100% right. That may mean doing what I don’t want to do, keeping faith through circumstances I never thought I’d face, holding on when everything around me says He’s abandoned me—while assured that if He has permitted it, He has a good purpose for it (Romans 8:28).
Jesus obeyed the Father all the way to the cross and back. Philippians 2:8-9 says Jesus “…became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore“—because He obeyed—”God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.” That would never have happened, had He put His human will at the center. His orientation made all the difference, for Himself and for all mankind.
I can insist on my way, choosing my will over His. If I do, I’ll be denying myself—and potentially many others—the benefits of having trusted God. I can’t know what all He may accomplish through my trust and obedience. But I can know that when I’m oriented to His will, His best will be mine.
© Diane McLoud 2015