Remember when you could buy WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets at 7-Eleven? For so long it was such a catch-phrase that it lost its meaning entirely. It helped us remember that Jesus would not slap the clerk who gave us the wrong change, or run over the person who cut us off in traffic. Jesus, we know, would not do that. But Jesus did not wear pants or eat chocolate either. Hmmm…
I think instead of focusing on what He would do, we need to ask how did Jesus live? He lived according to the will of the Father. Period. He never once expressed independence from God. He did not speak words that He had not heard from the Father. He did not act except according to God’s commands. Jesus always pointed to the Father, regardless of the personal consequences for Himself.
So how does that look for you and me? We are not Jesus. We have not been asked to take up a cross…oh, wait…yes, we have. But in the common, everyday life, what does it look like for us to live like Jesus lived? How would Jesus live out our situations? For the woman whose husband drinks too much, or the man whose promotion is given to someone else, or the parents whose child is far from home or safety, how would Jesus live?
First, Jesus would go to the Source. Jesus often went to solitary places to pray, to tune in to what His Father was telling Him. He would then honestly own what He wanted from the Father. Sometimes it was healing for someone. Other times it was enough bread and fish to feed everyone. He even asked God to raise Lazarus from the dead. In the garden of Gethsemane, He asked God to take the cross from Him.
Jesus went to God with His requests, but depended on God for the outcome. The Father healed many, fed 5000 (twice), and raised Lazarus from the dead. But He did not spare Jesus the cross. In each situation, Jesus surrendered the outcome to the Father, trusting His goodness and plan even at great personal consequence.
The woman married to the alcoholic must have the same mindset. She must connect with the Source if she is to be able to set boundaries with her husband. We cannot say ‘no’ to one relationship without the ability to say ‘yes’ to another. Jesus invites us to say ‘yes’ to Him. Then she must own what she wants instead of bending her desires to fit her situation. She may have to get firm about what is okay and what is not. But she needs to own her chaos in her life as a result of his drinking. Then she needs to surrender all those things to the Father, depending on Him for the outcome. Only God can work all things together for our good. Will she get what she wants? That is up to the Father. Is she wrong for wanting it? No. Should she stop wanting it? Jesus never gave up His desire to avoid the cross. But He did surrender it. That is her job as well.
To the man who was overlooked at work, he must first remember for whom he really works. Does he work for ‘The Man’ or does he work ‘as unto the Lord?’ He must first go to the Source. Then he must own his frustration, his bitterness, his anger, and his pain. He must be honest about all those difficult feelings. He may feel betrayed, used, and unwanted. He will probably question if and how he has failed. He must surrender those feelings, each time they come up, as many times as it takes, to the Father. God is his Defender and Provider. Leaving his dependence on God will lead him down a lonely, bitter, possible unemployed destination.
The parents with the prodigal child must do the same. Turning to the only Source for true healing, these parents will first need the ability to trust and connect with the Father. We all need a place of true comfort and rest. God was the perfect parent and His children still rebelled. These parents need to go to the One who can understand them in their struggle. Secondly, ownership is key. Who owns what? The parents own their feelings, actions, heart-ache, and decisions about their involvement. The rest of the ownership must be assigned to the child causing the problems. With all that is owned, surrender comes next. The parents must surrender the outcome, good or bad, over and over, to the Father. Does this mean everything will be okay? In one sense, no. There may be tragedy in this mix. But ultimately, God promises to work it out for their good.
Jesus offered His desire to be spared the cross three times. Sometimes we must offer God our pain, our sin, our struggles, and our fear more than once. If Jesus had to do that, why wouldn’t we? How did Jesus surrender? Repeatedly, for the same situation.
What, in your life, do you need to surrender maybe more than a dozen times? How would Jesus live in your situation? He would live fully in His desire and completely surrendered to whatever outcome the Father allows. Can you live in that both/and place, both in your desire and in surrender? That’s how Jesus lived.