This is the last line in the chorus of a song we sing at church entitled, Lord, I Give You My Heart, by Reuben Morgan. I enjoy the song (though I typically have a hard time worshiping the Lord in singing about what I’m going to do for Him instead of what He has already done on my behalf at the cross, but I digress). Many times, it is very easy to just say the phrase “Lord, have Your way in me,” without meditating upon its implications in our lives.
When we ask the Lord to have His way in us, it may be that He sovereignly decides to allow that which happened to Job to happen to us, or at least something comparable. Youch. Are we preparing now spiritually for this, before it happens, through Scripture studying, prayer, communion with God, and fellowship with other believers, which should all spill over into the unbelieving world around us through love and good works? And trust me, at some point trials will come, if they haven’t already.
The lyrics right before this line, at least to me, can tend to soften this implication when they say, “Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake … Have your way in me.” In no way am I criticizing the intention of the artist, Reuben Morgan, for I believe the intention in this lyric is good, and is a decent literary way of displaying our relationship with Christ. But it’s just so nice and fluffy to sing about the air we breathe, the moment by moment nature of our relationship with God in Christ and what we’re going to do for Him (you know, the whole WWJD/WHJD distinction – “What Would Jesus Do?” versus “What Has Jesus Done?” as a motivator for holiness?). Yet that last phrase in the chorus has vast implications in our lives. And these implications are thoroughly talked about in Scripture.
Here are just a couple of examples amongst many (including the whole book of Job):
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
In contradistinction to an understanding I recently read on a forum pertaining to this verse, in no way do I believe this is talking about the mundane, day to day, light-weight trials we pampered Americans go through on a daily basis, like work, traffic, school, etc. Please.
We American Christians are in the minority of total Christians in the rest of the world. And a majority of the rest of these Christians are being persecuted in ways we cannot even dream of in America. There is pure hatred for the people of God in the world and I do believe there is a time coming when it will be here as well. I highly doubt those persecuted Christians, as well as the history of the whole church’s understanding of this text, would come to this same, “three inch deep” conclusion.
It’s so easy to read a text of Scripture through the filter of our own experience, our own cultural point of view and our own socio-economic vantage point. This text is talking about Trials with a capital T, because Paul’s audience was a group of believers who were experiencing exile, imprisonment, beatings, torture, death, and financial distress of a kind we have not even seen in our life time, let alone in America. It can definitely mean trials such as family-related issues, natural disasters, all kinds of other things that we do experience here in America. But in context, Paul had a specific intention to his readers.
And not only this, but it says to rejoice in those very sufferings! Rejoice! How? Only by God’s Spirit working in us is this possible. We need Him desperately to supernaturally work this kind of divine affection and love into us, for it is foreign to our sinful natures and our flesh. When we consider that as the people of God we are like gold that is refined through fire, it is only in this mindset and perspective that we can rejoice in trials, for they are God’s work in us to make us like Himself.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James 1:2-3
The result of these trials and the reason we should rejoice in that which the Lord has sovereignly ordained for our lives, is that in them, the Lord produces in us steadfastness. And as those verses in Romans say above, in sequential order, we know “that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
“Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The reason we can rejoice is that in the trials God mercifully brings (being that they are making us into the image of Christ) we see God’s faithfulness to sustain and stoke our faith (in the same way you stoke fire with more wood and blowing air into it) when everything else gives way around us. And this in itself is confirmation that we are chosen of God, elect, the predestined people of the Lord, whom He has unconditionally set His loving favor and affection upon, made effective through the cross of Christ, sealed in His resurrection.
We can be assured of our salvation and His choosing of us for it when trials come and we continue trusting in and holding onto God’s promises in the midst of them, for this itself is the working of God in us and the visible evidence of our conversion, started by God in our spiritual birth, who will then bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). And in this we greatly rejoice, for our final hope and the ultimate goal of all this is sharing in the glory of God forever with all of His people!
My whole point in all of this is that the words we sing to the Lord carry weight and should not be taken lightly. And many times, I fear they are in many evangelical congregations. Sometimes the words carry more weight than we’re willing to admit and it is so easy to glibly gloss over their real meaning. This line is just one example.
If we really ponder the sustaining power the Lord has over our lives, for both blessings and trials, I believe we would fear the Lord properly, not a fear that shrinks away from Him, but that reveres Him for His awesome sovereign might and find peace and solace in His grace alone that sustains us in the midst of blessings as well as trials.
It is perfectly within His power to lift His hand and allow us to undergo suffering of all kinds and I believe we need to keep this in mind when singing these kinds of songs in particular. It should humble us and make us stop to think about what we’re really asking of the Lord.