To be like you! That has been my purpose though I said the words with little understanding of what they really mean. “Not my will, but YOURS be done!” you prayed, putting all the outcomes in your Father’s hands. You knew the cross was coming. You came to obey, to do what you were sent for, to be a sacrifice to rescue humans, broken people who are in desperate need. Humility. Grace. Willingness to serve the King no matter what he asks, even loving everyone! May your will be done!
I grew up in a like a seedling in a greenhouse, surrounded by missionaries who loved the Lord and loved to sing together. Once a week in Katwa, Congo, and then again in Ferke, Cote d’Ivoire, they would gather for “singspiration.” I loved to sing with them, so I learned many hymns with much deeper meanings than I realized as a young thing, just enjoying the music and learning to sing alto. The words stuck, though. Some favorites that are coming to mind these days:
All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give . . . I surrender all! (Judson W. Van DeVenter, 1896) And one that we had sung at our wedding: Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee . . . Take my will and make it thine, it shall be no longer mine! (Frances R. Havergal, 1874)
I did see my community living it out through some really hard times. I had to apply these words to difficult passages in my life as well, accepting what came my way – like separation from parents while at boarding school for four years. But that consecration of absolutely all that is within me, saying constantly “Take my will and make it thine . . . no longer mine!” – that was a long learning curve.
Now I understand that what I really long for is to be like Jesus, the more I understand what he was like during his life here. Coming to earth in the form of a human required an astounding depth of love for us, squeezing deity into a body of flesh and bones. The one who knew everything, who created everything, accepted growing up as a child. That took humility. The perfect person who never did anything wrong even went to his cousin, John, to be baptized. John’s baptism was for repentance, so at first John resisted Jesus’ request. He knew there was nothing Jesus could repent for doing. But Jesus said the ritual should be done “to fulfill all righteousness,’ (Mat. 3:15), and God signed his approval audibly and visually. Jesus associated with people that everyone looked down on. He was misunderstood, betrayed by his chosen disciple, and these sufferings were not easy for him either. He struggled with what was coming that night in the garden, overwhelmed with sorrow, even asking the Father if the plot could be changed. But he accepted it all anyway with those words of complete surrender: “Not my will, but yours be done!” and went forward to the cross, doing it to save us and out of complete obedience to his Father.
He loved the Father with all his being, and his neighbors, revealing it through so many acts of kindness and then his self-sacrifice. He even loved his enemies, showing it dramatically when he chose Saul, the persecutor of his disciples, to be his messenger.
Can I be like him? Can you? Yes, if we are so devoted to him that we are completely open to his will and his instructions. Yes, if we get to know him better and better day by day, listening to what he says and putting it into practice. His Spirit lives in us, guiding us, transforming us. When Jesus told his disciples, “Follow me!” he meant it. As we see him at work, we can join him! May words like these become our true goal:
Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer, This is my constant longing and prayer; Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. Refrain: Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. (Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897)