Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thy will be done...

About a year and a half ago, I was at a particular low point and among the things that conspired to drag me up again was a radical acceptance of "Thy will (not mine) be done." A particularly difficult notion for Unitarians (and most everyone) to abide by, turning over one's will is not a cheap way out or a shallow fatalism but a spur to healing and positive action as Henry Wilder Foote reminds us in his continuing series on the Lord's Prayer:

"Thy Will Be Done"

Jesus taught his disciples to pray in these words, which are the essence of Christian trust, and which indeed are the essence of all prayer, if we interpret them in their Christian breadth actively as well as passively.

We beware first of all of a fatalistic way of viewing the connection of Providence with our earthly lives. There are certain black moods of the mind which are most likely to come upon us when some untoward thing has thwarted the direction of our lives, — a well-devised plan brought to nothing, a cherished hope crushed ; or when all the powers of evil seem to encamp around the soul like savages in the woods around a frontier fort, and to be gradually but surely overcoming its resistance to temptation. Then we may easily find ourselves, weary and sick at heart, looking on the world as a great machine with most complicated mechanism, driven by the mighty engine of a relentless destiny, that seems to be shutting us up continually within narrower limits. In such a mood we fold the hands with a feeling of despair ; and though we say, " Thy will be done," the voice within us seems rather to murmur, with the writer of Ecclesiastes, " Time and chance happeneth to them all."

Yet I hardly need argue that this is a feeling which we ought to resist with all the strength of our souls, — morbid and weakening, if we yield to it till it becomes the habitual state of the mind. He utters the Lord's Prayer with no true comprehension of its meaning who makes it an excuse to himself for supineness, and sits lazily by as the various events of life rush swiftly' past him, doing no more to direct their course than the man who lives beside a rushing stream can do to control it when the rains have descended and the floods have come. "Thy will be done!" we say. But that it may be done on earth, our hands and our hearts are needed.

And when we look within our own souls do not reason and faith and plain common sense (which, when touched with religion, is reason transfigured by faith), — do they not all revolt at the idea that we can forget to repent and reform, and then, forsooth, think it enough to accept the consequences of our own faults (which we ought never to have committed), and attribute it to the mysterious will of God, whose holy will really was that we never should commit them at all ? No! we never were taught to say, " Thy will be done," merely as an easy way of shifting our own responsibility upon Heaven; but in order that we might, as the Apostle says, " gird up the loins of our mind " to perform every duty religiously, and thus make ourselves the instruments of God in the doing of His holy and acceptable and perfect will."

Tomorrow, more on this pivotal notion. Blessings.

1 comment:

PeaceBang said...

What a great post, BU. And I love the image, too. Origins? I also love your expression "dragged up."