When Will I Grow Up?
Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. Mark 14:36
While in treatment for chemical dependency, I had a tremendous amount of time to work on my life problems. It was good for me, but in my exuberance to clean house, I got a little overconfident. For the first time in a long time, I was on the right track and I began to think that I had things pretty well figured out. I was sober, I was eating right, and I knew what I had to do to get my life back together. As I was getting ready to leave treatment, I actually had this thought – I wonder what God will work on next. My struggles are fixed and my self-destructive appetites are under control.
Then I got home . . . and returned to reality. It took about five minutes to realize that though I was sober, I was still selfish, gluttonous, lustful, greedy, and prideful. Most of my self-destructive tendencies, in fact, hadn’t gone anywhere. This was frustrating. Honestly, it still can be. Five years later, I may not wrestle with taking pills, but I still struggle with my other appetites. It seems I still must drag my need before God every day, breaking my will, to follow his. When will I grow up?
I find great comfort then in the profoundly honest portrayal of Jesus in today’s passage. On the night of his arrest, Jesus too, struggled with his will. He knew God’s plan – crucifixion – but he wanted something very different. He wanted to not die a horrible death. It was a reasonable desire, but it was not his father’s will. He begged God to avoid the pain, but in the end, he wrestled his will to the ground, surrendering it to God. Not what I will, but what you will.
This is the daily challenge for all of us. This is what it means to be a human trying to follow God. As long as we live in this flesh, we are going to have self-destructive desires, thoughts, and behaviors. It’s simply our nature to desire to live contrary to God’s plan. Our daily job then, is to – like Christ – drag our will before the father, killing it, so that we too may continually say, Not what I will, but what you will. Even Jesus struggled, but in the struggle, he showed us how to live.