Freedom Friday: The Power of God’s Will

For it’s only in Your will that I am free*

Do you ever think about the Garden of Gethsemane? With Good Friday coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot about the words Jesus said as He prayed one of His final prayers here on earth.

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”**

Prior to this prayer, Jesus asked all the disciples to sit in Gethsemane while He took Peter, James and John further into the garden to pray. He stated, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

After uttering His first prayer of submitting to God’s will, He walked back and found His three closest friends – asleep.

“He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.'”


I first heard the song “Jesus, All for Jesus” at a women’s conference. I was struck by its simplicity and depth and challenged by the lyrics.

But I find myself singing one line over and over as Good Friday approaches:

For it’s only in Your will that I am free

The only place we are truly free is in the center of God’s will. This was true for Jesus, too.

But how can horrific suffering that ended with death on the cross be freedom?

Isaiah records in a section of Scripture that prophesies of Jesus’ coming and is often referred to as “The Suffering Servant” that “it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.”

The cross was God’s will for Jesus.

The first time I saw the above verse, I didn’t know how to respond – because I knew the implications. It was the fulfillment of God’s perfect will that Jesus die on that cross – for me and for you. It was the only way for us to be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10). And not a quick, easy death (because God could have done that), but one that involved being crushed and suffering immensely.

Jesus knew that there is no life apart from God’s will.  And so He surrendered to the will of His Father.

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:8-11

For the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).

For our freedom (Galatians 5:1).

And for His glory (Philippians 2:11).

Jesus, All for Jesus
Jesus, all for Jesus
All I am and have and ever hope to be
Jesus, all for Jesus
All I am and have and ever hope to be

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands

For it’s only in Your will that I am free
For it’s only in Your will that I am free

Jesus, all for Jesus
All I am and have and ever hope to be*

*Song lyrics are from Jesus All For Jesus (Featuring Robin Mark).

**The story of the Garden Gethsemane, as quoted above, is found in Matthew 26.

Monday Morning Meditation: God is Able

Just wanted to send you off into this week with a quick thought:

“Now to Him who is able…..” Ephesians 3:20

I purchased the new Paul Baloche album, Live, last week. I’ve become a fan of Paul Baloche over the years. If you are a worship leader or team member, you may notice that quite a few of the songs we sing today were written or co-written by him. The last church we attended in Boston (which was mostly folks from the Philippines) sang quite a few of his songs, though sometimes when I hear Paul sing them, I still expect a strong Filipino accent 🙂

As I listened to the album one day, I noticed Paul was repeating these lines from an old hymn:

A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing.
A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing.

I thought to myself, How my heart would be changed if I spent my days repeating that truth rather than staring at the seemingly insurmountable mountains in my life.

A similar truth that is contained in Ephesians 3:20 has challenged me to my core lately. It begins, “Now to Him who is able.” That alone is enough to give me pause. I have found myself repeating this to myself and to friends in the simple statement, “God is able.” But Paul, the writer of this letter to the church in Ephesus continues:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,”

We all like the “immeasurably more” part, and that has seemed to be the phrase my heart has latched on to in the past. But lately, I find the next phrase greatly encouraging: more than all we ask or imagine.

When I don’t know what to pray, when I’m afraid to dream another big dream, when my hopes seems outlandish, the God of the cross is able to do abundantly more than I could even think up. How is that even possible? “According to His power that is at work within us.”

Not my fancy prayer. Not my willpower. Not my effort, even, but according His power that is at work because of His Holy Spirit in me.

And because He loves me. Read Ephesians 3:14-19 for reference.

No matter how your week plays out,
No matter what challenges you face,
No matter what mountains come your way,


God is able.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #9: “Wrecked” by Jeff Goins

I finished my 9th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins

I was very excited to read this book. First, I was excited because I am a fan of Jeff Goins. I enrolled in his writing course and while I haven’t kept up with it at the pace I hoped, I’ve done several lessons and have benefitted from his methods. Second, I was excited because my library had it! It’s the simple things, sometimes 🙂

I also love the premise. From the book’s description: “Wrecked is about the life we are afraid to live. It’s about radical sacrifice and selfless service–how we find purpose in the midst of pain. It’s a look at how we discover fulfillment in the least likely of places. It’s about living like we mean it. It’s a guide to growing up and giving your life away, helping you live in the tension between the next adventure and the daily mundane.”

So several weeks ago, I dove right into this book.

There were several things I appreciated in Wrecked. First, I really appreciated Jeff’s honest thoughts on his work with the homeless. After watching a close family member struggle through homelessness, God cultivated in me a heart for those with no place to lay their heads. I wrote an article for Boundless about my buddy “Friend” and what I learned from her. I found myself tearing up, reading some of the stories Jeff shares, as I recalled my own experiences. The truths he gained from these encounters resonated with me. We cannot be afraid of the dirt and mess that may come at times when we passionately follow Jesus.

Second, Jeff reminds us that, as Christians, the focus was never meant to be on ourselves. The way he chooses to word some of his thoughts on this I don’t necessarily agree with fully. But I agree with the bottom line: the point to life is not about somehow “finding ourselves.” We can only find our “true selves” through a deeper knowledge of the One who created us. Hey, I think I wrote about this in my book! I’ll quote myself: “We cannot know ourselves without truly knowing our Creator and Father.”

That said, I really wanted to love this book. I know Jeff Goins is a good writer, and I expected to get caught up not only in his story-telling but also the practical aspects of how to live a wrecked life.

I felt in Jeff’s attempt to make the book accessible, he oversimplifies some of the concepts he tries to explain. While statements such as “No one’s going to give you a map. You must make your own way.” have some truth in them, they rubbed me the wrong way. I do believe that, for the most part, God has a specific plan for our lives. But Jeff is right; God doesn’t exactly give us a map. I share in that post how I used to drive myself crazy, waiting to hear from God. But extending that out to “making my own way” is a bit of a stretch for me.

There are other such statements that didn’t sit right for me, as well as many that did. So while I definitely related with some of Jeff’s stories and experiences, I thought the book was average. It’s a good primer on why one needs to be open to being wrecked by God, wherever He may lead. I read Holy Discontent: Fueling the Fire That Ignites Personal Vision by Bill Hybels several years back and feel that is a more practical guide to figuring out what wrecks you and living out that truth.

Get Wrecked from the library and let me know what you think 🙂

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge: