Most of we Christians understand “Let go and let God” as our #1 goal in life. We believe that the quality of our lives will be determined by the degree to which we are able to substitute God’s will for our own.
And it sounds so easy! “Let go and let God” makes it seem like substituting God’s will for our own is as easy as changing from our work clothes into our bathrobe.
But it’s hardly that simple a transaction, is it? It’s not because we need our personal, individualized human will, like we need our next breath. Our will is our life. We so need and desire our will that we’d fight to the death anyone who tried to take it from us.
God’s will is a wonderful thing, no doubt. But God is up in heaven, where needs are few if they exist at all. We, meanwhile, are down here on earth, where needs are many and never cease. All of our pretenses not withstanding, what we’re trying to do out here is survive. And surviving means getting stuff for ourselves. Food, water, clothing, shelter: securing such things for ourselves and loved ones means exercising our will, not God’s.
If we don’t work, we don’t get paid—and then everything for us crumbles. And God is not going to do our work for us. We must put our shoulder to the plow; we must bend our backs, and work. It’s our responsibility.“Through painful toil you will eat of [the ground], all the days of your life,” said God to Adam.
I won’t ask God if I should work today, or get dressed, or take care of the house, or drive my wife to work, or fulfill my myriad obligations. None of us asks God if we should do the zillions of things we need to do every single day. We just do them. We can deny it as vigorously as we might, but the fact remains that God is peripheral to the majority of our lives. We can pray before we eat; we can give thanks afterward. But when we’re actually eating, it’s all us.
My point is not that, try though we might, we can never really give any substantive amount of our will over to God. It’s that we too often fail to realize what a monumentally cataclysmic thing it would be to do that. Yes, I can decide to let God’s will take over my own. But doing that means that I better be prepared to leave behind the life I know, and begin one of abject poverty, of attachment to nothing, of unending emotional and physical vulnerability. I better be prepared to have my life gutted, stripped, subject to ruination by any standard I know.
I better be ready to be lowered into mud like Jeremiah, to subsist on insects like John the Baptist, to live the agonizing anguish of Isaiah. Because those of the rules. If you offer your all to God, that’s what He’s going to take. All.
If I want God to take over my life, then I better be prepared to have me obliterated.
I’m not willing to do that. I’m willing to let God inform my life, but not run it altogether. I’m simply not brave enough for that.