I have witnessed many people attempting to do God’s will “in Jesus’ name.” Some believe if they just do whatever is in their hearts and attach God’s name to it that He will bless it. Others brainstorm and vote on the best idea and then pray for God’s hand to be upon them as they “do His will.” And still other wait on the Lord for His will, yet never engage in anything He asks them to do. How did Jesus go about doing His Father’s will?
In John 5:19, Jesus said that He only did what He saw the Father doing. He operated under this premise throughout His life and ministry as an overflow of His relationship with the Father. Jesus acknowledged the Father in everything He did—seeking first His will and ways. He learned to discern what the Father was doing and aligned His life fully to it.
When it came time to choose the Twelve, Jesus sought what the Father was doing by spending an entire night in prayer (Luke 6:12-16). Those He chose would not only be His followers while He was on Earth, but the foundation of the newly launched church!
Jesus understood what the Father was doing as He came towards the end of His three-year ministry. He knew it was time to fulfill what He had ultimately come—reconciling people to His Father through the Cross. Jesus knew that He must head to Jerusalem where He would be crucified and raised on the third day (Mark 9:31). Not only did Jesus know what the Father was doing, He also cooperated fully with the Father, in spite of the realities of what He would face (Luke 22:39-46).
Have you ever considered the great faith employed by Jesus at this time in His life? He completely yielded to what His Father was doing, which meant that He fully entrusted Himself into His Father’s hands and to His will while He was:
- Arrested, falsely accused and severely beaten
- Abandoned by those closest to Him on earth
- Nailed to a cross as the promised Savior for mankind
- Placed lifeless in a tomb awaiting a resurrection
Because He aligned Himself to what His Father was doing, the result was world-changing. From that time on, the world had a risen Savior: a forgiven and reconciled people; the emergence of His Bride, the Church; and His invitation to relationship for those who don’t yet know Him! Jesus’ life shows us that aligning to God’s will and ways bears eternal fruit!
What God initiates He perpetuates—what I initiate I have to sustain. I often draw upon these words as a reminder of aligning myself to God’s will and ways. When it’s God’s idea, when He initiates something and His purposes are in play, it’s like a sailboat coming in line with a strong directional wind. The sailboat then moves almost effortlessly with grace, power, and purpose. On the other hand, when I am initiating something, I’m the one who has to generate all the energy and produce all the outcomes, relying on my own drive and effort. And it’s up to me to sustain it. One is empowering and fruitful; the other is exhausting and fruitless. See the difference?
When we wonder if something is God’s will or not, we must train ourselves to ask the questions:
- Is the “breath of God” on it?
- Is this idea God-generated and am I following His agenda, participating with Him in accomplishing His will?
- Or is it self-generated, promoting my own agenda?
I’ll be the first to say that it is not always easy to discern whether a thing is “of God” right away, but if we cultivate a relationship with Him and follow His cues—trusting and obeying like the disciples in Scripture—we’ll find ourselves participating in His purposes beyond our wildest imaginations!
Remember, we are always followers of Jesus, meaning we follow His lead. He is the Lord, and we are His servants. We see in the Scriptures God initiating and His people obeying, which is accompanied by His blessing. God doesn’t bless acts of the flesh, no matter how good our motives are! We’ve got to realize that “life” only comes when He initiates and we obey. We cannot accomplish His purposes on our own. We must walk closely to Jesus so we can see what He’s doing and respond to Him as followers!
Consider familiar stories in the Scriptures, and reflect on who is actually doing the initiating. Who initiated the building of the Ark, walking around the wall of Jericho, or Paul going to Macedonia?
In what areas of your life have you initiated instead of allowing Jesus to? Consider the energy put out and the cost to sustain it in:
- Your personal life
- Your family life
- Your friendships
- Your calling/vocation
Think about a time where you sensed God initiated something in your life. Did you follow His lead all the way through? Why or why not?
If you’ve initiated something that is now not going well, repent and surrender it to Jesus by asking Him what steps He would like you to take to get realigned to Him. Don’t be surprised if He asks you to lay it all down. Also, don’t be surprised if He creates a redemptive plan once you place it under His leadership.