Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
God's will for us is not sorrow, poverty, loneliness, death, and all the other forms of suffering that we usually associate with the expression "Thy will be done."
"That creature in which the Eternal Good most manifesteth itself, shineth forth, worketh, is most known and loved, is the best."
Paul expresses the same idea when he says,
"It was the good pleasure of the Father that in him [Christ] should all the fulness dwell." This means fullness of love, fullness of life, fullness of power, fullness of joy, fullness of all good; and Christ abideth in you. "Of his fulness we all received." "And in him ye are made full."
God is not death; He is life. God is not hate and sorrow; He is love and joy. God is not weakness and failure; He is power and success.
When Jesus Christ was here on earth He said He came to represent the Father, that is, to be to us as the Father would be; to do to us and for us what the Father would do: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." "Verily, verily I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing: for what things soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner." Jesus never gave sorrow or sickness to anyone. Did He not say, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full"? Did He not definitely say, "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly"?
It has been urged by many good people that Jesus meant only spiritual life. Well, He did not
say so, and "the common people" who "heard him gladly" were not desiring or seeking spiritual life. They wanted at that time health for their sick ones; and in that day life meant just what the common people would understand today by life. Oh, how the human intellect in its ignorance and egotism has twisted and turned and distorted the plain, simple words of the Master in order to make them conform to its darkened understanding!
Truly "the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not."
"Jesus must have meant so and so, because we do not see how He could have meant otherwise," says the intellect of man. What a pity that we should have grown so far away from the very simplicity of the "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people."
Truly "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged."
Jesus gave physical health for physical sickness, and "them that had need of healing he cured." He gave life where there had been
physical death, as to the daughter of Jairus; He gave power and courage to the disciples where weakness and fear had existed, so that the once cowardly Peter became a very rock of courage and strength forever after; He gave joy for sorrow, as when He restored to Mary and Martha the brother who had left them.
All of the conditions from which the human heart so shrinks He changed for the mere asking. He did not have to be begged and besought for weeks and months. He changed the conditions. How? Not by merely giving the suffering one a spirit of submission, which is but another word for a state of absolute benumbment and discouragement, but by removing the cause of the sorrow and restoring life, joy, power; by giving back something to fill to fullness the very gap that existed. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning."
Throughout all the ages of the Biblical record it was the experience and teaching of prophets, priests, and kings unto God that more of God in one's life meant more of good.
Life is good, and we all desire more of it. "I am ... the life," said the Christ. "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly": more life because of His indwelling.
"In thy presence is fulness of joy." "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full"; fullness of joy because of His joy in us.
"My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding." The peace of God, which alone is able to keep our hearts and minds overflowing with joy.
"Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you"; that is, after more of the Spirit of God comes into your life. Greater power is only more of God, of All-Power.
"Behold, my servants shall eat... behold, my servants shall drink ... behold, my servants shall rejoice . . . behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart. . . they shall build houses, and in-
habit them." "They that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing."
The Christ, the Son of God, speaking through Jesus of Nazareth ("The words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works"), in His prayer of thanksgiving to our Father said: "As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us ... I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one."
Marvelous way, is it not, in which the creature is to be made perfect and known and loved and great: simply letting God's will be done in us and in our circumstances and surroundings? Yet heretofore one's saying, "Thy will be done," has been associated in mind only with death and suffering and failure, and with a forced submission to these un-Godlike conditions, as though God were the author of them. "God is not a God of confusion, but of peace." Oh, how in our ignorance we have mistaken and misunderstood God, in consequence of which we are today pygmies when He wanted to make us giants in love and health and power by manifesting more of Himself through us! We would
not let Him, because we have been afraid to say, "Have Thy way in me; manifest Thyself through me as Thou wilt."
If then it is God's will to give us all these good gifts, how is it that as good and sincere Christians, really and truly God's children, we so often lack them all and cry in vain for help? It is because we have not known how to deal with the things that are contrary to His will; and how to take that which God has freely given. How are we to deal with the things that we know are contrary to the Father's will as it was revealed by Jesus Christ?
Take sickness, for instance. We are to remember that Jesus repeatedly spoke of it as not of God but rather as of Satan. An instance is the case of the "woman that had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years; and she was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up." Of her He said: "Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound, lo, these eighteen years, to have been loosed from this bond on the day of the sabbath?"
On another occasion there "was brought unto him one possessed with a demon, blind and
dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the dumb man spake and saw." When the Pharisees, who knew Jesus as a son of David, saw this and accused Him of working by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils, He said: "If Satan casteth out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? . . . But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you."
Let us then recognize, as Jesus did, that according to the will of God we ought to be loosed from our infirmities. Let us meet the issue fairly and squarely without a moment's fear or hesitation, acting in His name and by His authority. "And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons." Let us boldly say: "Get you behind me Satan! You are a lie and the father of all lies. Sickness is not of God, and I will not submit to it. God is life. He is almighty, and His will is to manifest life more abundant through me. Christ does and shall reign in this body. His will is done." This is the attitude of mind we must take.
How are we to deal with our Father's will? Exactly as with any other will.
What should we do if some friend left a will giving something very desirable to us? We should first make sure by probate that it was his will; then we should not leave a stone unturned in having it executed. If we met with some opposition and delay we should push the harder and with more determination to obtain that which by right of inheritance belonged to us.
Shall we not, ought we not, do the same as regards the will of God our Father? This will was made ages ago, giving to whosoever will "whatsoever ye pray and ask for." This latter clause in the will and testament of God is the only limitation He has placed on any human being. "All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." "If ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you in my name."
"Prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
How are we to take these great gifts of God?
God has already done His part in full. In Judges 18:10 it is written: "God hath given it into your hand, a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth" (Judg. 18:10); that is, of anything the human heart desires. "Believe that ye receive," Jesus said, "and ye shall have." God has said, "The right of inheritance is thine"; that is, whatsoever you desire is yours by right of inheritance because you are His children, and the children are the natural and rightful heirs to all that the Father has. Also "the right of redemption is thine"; that is, in the redemption wrought out by Christ we have become "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." "For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus." He has thus assured us that all things are ours by right, and
"God is not a man, that he should lie,
Neither the son of man, that he should repent:
Hath he said, and will he not do it?
Or hath he spoken, and will he not make it
Now it only remains for us to prove the will
by affirmation and trust; to prove Him and see if He will not do all that He has promised. The Holy Spirit alone is the executor of God's will, but even this executor can do nothing for us unless we take the right attitude.
"Arise," He says, "be not slothful to go and to enter in to possess the land." Thus there is something definite for us to do. In proving God there must be no meek submission to the things coming upon us that we know are contrary to His will for us, as that will was revealed by Jesus Christ.
Did Jesus ever tell anyone that it was God's will for him to suffer lack, or be sick, or be a failure in any way? If any such vision of God's will is in your mind, rise up instantly, and in the name of Christ put it forever out of your thoughts as unworthy of a loving Father, and doubly unworthy of yourself, His offspring. When any of these things come upon you, arise at once and claim your rightful inheritance. "I am thy portion and thine inheritance," saith the Lord. Remember what God is, who says to you, "I am . .. thine inheritance." He is life, wisdom, peace, joy, strength, power. Remember that He
has given it into your hands, although to you it may not yet be visible: a place where there is no want of anything.
When God said to Moses, "I am," it was as though He said: "I am this moment to you anything that you have courage to claim Me for, but you must prove Me. I am the supply of every lack in your life, but you must take Me for it, and then stand still and see the salvation that I will work for you."
To us in our spiritual impotence Jesus says today, as He did to the infirm man at the Pool of Bethesda, "Wouldst thou be made whole?" that is, "Do you will it, and not simply languidly desire it? Are you determined to have that executed which you are satisfied is God's will for you? Well, then I will it too," and it is done.
Listen! "If thou wilt" brings no visible answer to prayer. But a definite, positive will-not-be-put-off attitude, a determined "I will have Thy will done in this matter" is a force that always brings results into manifestation.
Preceding Entry: God a Present Help 7-19: 1. Good Tidings of Great Joy
Following Entry: God a Present Help 37-48: 3. Life More Abundant