“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to his will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” ~
I John 5:13-15
I was raised in a strong faith filled home with parents who truly lived Christ first. Their examples taught me to pursue the will of God and wait until I had release in my spirit before making major decisions. My father often sat in his long homemade wooden porch swing hung under a spreading oak as he fasted and prayed. People around us thought he was nuts at times. To others, his faith was an inspiration. The moment he had peace/release from God he acted! And “whatever” unfolded was blessed. I can share countless miracles and open doors that emerged from his relinquishment and surrender.
My father prayed according to God’s will before acting on what seemed to be on a good idea. This lingering prayer gave him a confidence to proceed. In East Texas he had a woodworking “Candlelamp” business for years which came directly from God. We loaded up everything and moved cross country multiple times –Texas, California, Texas, Florida, and back to Texas. On one sales trip he felt led to visit a particular town, stumbled into a college professor and learned about Lee College. Upon his return home to where we lived at the time in Florida, he encourage me to apply and the ensuing scholarship opened the door to my education and lifelong dream of studying English.
When we know that He has heard us, we can boldly march forward because that prayer has been answered. We can let go of anxiety and what ifs. The vision will unfold and the right door miraculously open. We were not parented out of fear but faith because my parents knew God had heard them. I watched my parents’ fearlessly relate to one another in marriage because of their confidence that they were intended for one another. My father pulled away and fasted and prayed until he had release in his spirit that the young girl he had met three months prior was to be his bride.
The crucial, often overlooked, component to this passage is “anything according to his will”. Here is where we let go. As Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” It’s so inherent in our human sinful self to hold on, tight. Watch a 2-year-old stomp his foot and refuse to release his yellow truck, or a 3 year old give up her favorite stuffed animal when asked. Even my teenage son senselessly clings to futile arguments in the face of facts.
She can’t see her mother’s need to bathe Brenna, remove sticky soiled debris, and restore it to her in finer condition. He can’t possibly comprehend that his father has a new Tonka Toughest Mighty Dump Truck behind his back. My son needs the trajectory of time to “see” why his father and I are asking him to let go of his false reality and rethink the facts.
What can you or I not see? How are we obstinately refusing to let go and allow God to sovereignly work in our deepest heart desires or dreams to rebirth an even grander vision?? This is a question I have repeatedly asked of myself all year, our year of “sabbatical” in which it felt as if all my dreams died.
To be perfectly honest, most of the year I did not willingly let go. I hung on. Made lists. Prayed for fulfillment. Ranted and raved to my husband and God. I felt unbelievably trapped despite being in a beautiful home with a loving family who had been so good to us. Refusing to let go led me to depths of hopelessness.
God in his mercy led me to HOPE, as I’ve written about before, but the greatest shift occurred when I opened my hands and just let go. Nevertheless, Your will be done. I laid out all my circumstances and “reasons” for why and how I wanted God to move–made a long list. Then systematically I prayed out loud over each one.
Lord, I know You gave me my business as an opportunity to create and support the family, and it’s Your desire to bless. You know we need income and I’m sitting on $$ of inventory. Nevertheless, Your will be done. I choose to let go of Magpie and put it in Your hands, even be willing to give the business away. I let go of all my ideas of how to increase sales and asked God to show me, confirm in my heart the direction to take. I even submitted to Him everyone else’s ideas, regardless of how brilliant they seemed, and asked for direction. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths,” Proverbs 3:6.
I cried out to God for vision/direction for our family after Mark’s doctoral graduation and we still lingered in a cold city where we didn’t connect or feel like we belonged. We longed to be in a thriving environment where the whole family could bloom. Yet, we felt trapped because we had neither funding nor any sense of direction where to go/what to do. Psalm 37:23 tells us that, “The steps of a righteous man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.” We surrendered our footsteps to be ordered of the Lord.
As I struggled with another health relapse in the face of knowing God is my healer, I surrendered my desires for complete healing. I know it’s His desire to heal. I meditated on the Father’s words to Paul, ” My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Cor. 12:9 In letting go I prayed that God would bring glory to His name during this healing journey and I chose to praise whether I ever walked in complete healing this side of eternity.
My list is long! I was led into a season of somber prayer and fasting as I sought the will of God. It was heavy. I felt like I was in labor–giving birth to a vision I couldn’t yet see or touch. It was so hard to convey this deep groaning to those around me–no I was not miserable, but in the throngs of labor.
I cried heavy tears as I let go of every dream and desire and laid them at His feet. Letting go had to be a free, not forced, release. No parent finds joy in their child’s force surrender, but rejoices to see him obediently release the precious object. I wrestled with my anger and bitterness over years of unfulfilled dreams and that feeling of “why” in the face of so many shut doors. Why God have you allowed us to struggle to the degree my son believes all ministers have nothing? Why have promises never been fulfilled? Why have old fears from the past resurfaced and torment us day and night?
As I prayed and let go of offenses, disappointments, unopened doors, I was led to take authority over every lie that comes from the pit of hell. I opened my Word, picked up a #2 pencil and began making notes and dates next to every passage that leapt up to my heart. “I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me,” Romans 8:37.
I turned to another bookshelf mentor of mine, Catherine Marshall, and re-read Be Still. It wasn’t up to me to make my dreams come true. I could choose to surrender every one and let God bring them into fulfillment in His perfect timing. Psalm 18:30 reassured me that He is perfect in all His ways.
I let go as I worshipped. One of our greatest weapons in the Spirit is praise. God, You’re so good to me. You’re a good, good Father. It’s who You are. How great is Your love for us. I praised Him for loving me from the beginning of time, for His perfection in all things, that not a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge. I praised Him for owning the cattle on 1,000 hills (Psalm 50:10) and that there will be no lack of funding to fulfill the vision He sets before us.
In the waiting period of letting go and releasing every idea/hope/dream to God my prayers shifted as I discerned the will of God. He gave a strong “No” in some instances and because I had laid the situation at His feet I simply felt a peaceful release. In others I had deep reassurance and a go-ahead. And for one particular need, a solution out of the box. I knew, like my father in his seasons of pressing in, that God had heard my prayers. I had confidence to proceed.
I felt the winds of heaven begin to shift. Urgency in my spirit to Be Ready for whatever God opened up for us gripped me. Even here, I let go of all my ideas of how this should look. I have had to release my timetable of how I think He should move. I surrendered location, what to do about my children’s education, or how the vision should unfold. In letting go I was led to Be Ready and Be Still. I obeyed. Nothing happened. Fear set in after a week of doldrums. I had to let lo of fear, fear that I was totally nuts, that everyone around me thought I was losing it, and that nothing I had perceived was coming true. Could I praise Him even here??
Fear is one of the most powerful strongholds to surrender. It has been my greatest hurdle. I’m not by nature a fearful person, but fear wrapped its sticky tentacles around our circumstances and hit replay on the CD of lies over and over again until I was too paralyzed to budge. This was spiritual warfare. When one’s mind replays old fears, it’s a stronghold. I leaned into the Spirit here, too. Isaiah 26:3 told me, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” I made a choice–to stay my mind on Him.
As I let go of fear, stayed my mind on Christ, disciplined myself to Be Still, and worshipped, peace that passes all understanding came. I had confidence that He had heard me. My prayers shifted from asking to thanksgiving. My son doesn’t need to keep asking his father for a cup of water, but to remain patient while his father finds a cup, fills it, and brings the desired nourishment to his son.
Finding a solution wasn’t up to either my husband or me. God has a perfect plan for our lives. My father used to drawl that it’s really hard to miss the will of God when your hearts are stayed on Him. Philippians 4:13 declares, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” James 1:5 exhorts, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Answers are coming!
My challenge to you? Be Still, turn off your media and competing voices and allow God to speak. Let go. Let go of him, of her, of them, of your hopes and dreams. Submit all your plans before Him as a sacrifice and allow God to resurrect those that need to live!! Same with that loved one–allow God to bring correcting and vision while you love. This may not instantly unfold, but may take hours, days, weeks, as you die to yourself, let go of your desires and let God birth His perfect plan for you.
You will move forward in peace and confidence that He has heard you–He will open any door that needs to be opened and shut those you don’t need to enter.
Anything according to His WILL. Let God.
The exquisite featured image is from Julie Jablonski and used with her permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project. We are grateful and rejoice in celebrating her beautiful work.
Mary has cherished life-long literary dreams coupled with a passion for ministry, all of which lead her to study English literature and later theology and counseling in seminary. She has been designing artisan jewelry for eight years while homeschooling son Ian and daughter Julianna. She and her husband Mark Miller have been in ministry for the past thirteen years in San Diego and temporarily moved to Washington with their cat Lord Peter Wimsey while Mark finalized his dissertation. Dr. Miller is now pursuing ministerial opportunities nation-wide. Mary enjoys off-the-wall humor, gardening, cooking, and curling up with anything penned by Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, or Jane Austen.