If there's a hymn that you'll choose to hide in your heart as you begin the next phase of your life's journey, then I hope you will pick "My Jesus, As Thou Wilt!"
This hymn is a prayer from the heart of an eighteenth-century pastor who was restricted by the church-state to attend to the believers’ needs in the best way he knew how. Despite these difficult circumstances, Benjamin Schmolck gave of his best to the flock, praying and singing, as he went about his life's work, that the Lord's will may prevail.
Reminds you of our Lord's ministry, doesn't it? When Jesus stepped forward to fulfill His life's purpose, His teachings shook up a society that had lived and died according to what the Pharisees-a select group of Jewish people-determined was acceptable or not. Because they had learned from the bitter history of previous generations that had turned away from God, this group of Jews wanted to get it right for themselves and for future generations. Unfortunately, by tagging new rules and regulations onto the Law that God had given to Moses in the days of the Exodus, they were trying too hard. Anyway, being so fiercely devoted, the Pharisees abhorred Jesus and His teachings. In their eyes, Jesus was only a carpenter, a mere tradesman who made and repaired ordinary implements for everyday use. As far as the Pharisees could see, Jesus was breaking every rule in the book. The man even claimed to be the Son of God! From this background, the Pharisees, as a group, watched Jesus and waited for the opportunity to rid Him from their society.
To say that the Pharisees gave Jesus a hard time is an understatement. Nevertheless, our Lord stayed focused and motivated. He understood that God's will must prevail at all times. He never forgot that He had been ordained to live and die to atone for the sins of the world, so that every person will have access to eternal life. Jesus also never forgot that, in the short time He had to preach and to teach, He had come to show by His example that the correct way to worship God was to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
This hymn also makes me think of Paul. You remember Paul, don't you? He was also a Pharisee, a teacher of the Law. The Bible introduces him in that scene where he was watching the stoning of a Christian named Stephen. You could tell that Paul would have none of this teaching that contradicted his!
This incident occurred after the Pharisees had seen their wish come true and Jesus had been crucified. But what they did not know was that eliminating Jesus from Palestine would in no way create the perfect Jewish society of their dreams. If anything, their plans backfired because after Jesus died and was buried, He resurrected from the dead, just as He had said He would. Thereafter, for about forty days, He appeared to His disciples. Then, after He had returned to heaven and the Holy Spirit came on the disciple-as Jesus had promise-even more people converted to Christianity.
Paul did not like what he saw: a chosen people were turning their backs on the God of their forefathers! In his zeal, Paul set out to save his people from their folly. When Christians fled the country, he went after them.
But one day on the road, a bright light suddenly shone from heaven. In an instant, Paul was on the ground. Then he heard our Lord call out to him.
You know the rest of the story. What this hymn reminds me today is that when Paul finally understood God's will for him, he took that zeal which God had endowed him with and put it to good use for our Lord. Turning his back on a life of power and prestige, Paul dedicated the rest of his life to our Lord and became the apostle to the Gentiles. Traveling the known world outside of Palestine at that time, Paul preached that nothing and no one could save a person, except his or her faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who had lived and died for the sins of every man, woman, and child.
Anyhow, as the book of Acts and Paul's epistles testify, there is more to his ministry than what I can fit into this letter. But even though the money was not there, the hours were long and erratic, working conditions were dangerous, and Paul never really knew whether he would be warm and full one day or cold and hungry the next, this apostle stayed focused and motivated right up to the moment when he was executed by the authorities.
The cost of obeying God's will is high. Though but a young person, you know this to be true. You will also find this to be true when you step into the future. I know that you are aware of this because you have already read in the gospels that the world will hate Christians on account of their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul, too, had written of terrible times that shall come in the last days.
Nevertheless, I want you to remember that Jesus had warned that when those times come, many Christians will turn their backs on Him and walk away with the intention of saving their own lives. But then again, I know you have already read that this is not a strategy our Lord recommends. In fact, He recommends the opposite—that when terrible times come, you remain faithful and He shall help you defend your faith.
That is why I hope you'll hide this hymn in your heart. Where you are going, there will be joy and sorrow. In this mix, you will find tears and laughter. But be it one or the other, I hope you'll know to always prayerfully sing, "My Lord, Thy will be done."
Written as a mother would her child, "Letters from Mom" addresses the struggles of our young people as they step toward the threshold of adulthood. This column hopes to encourage, comfort, and urge the youth to continue living as children of God. Please send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.