A Pilgrimage Fueled by Hope: I Do Not Speak on My Own
By Sharon W. Betters
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. - John 12:49 ESV
A friend’s daughter told her she no longer believed in God. Her precious daughter wanted out of her marriage, saying her husband refused to love her the way she wanted to be loved. How could my friend survive such agony, to watch her beloved child reject the very One her mother clung to in the darkest days of life? The grip of her painful struggle faded as my friend moved past panic to her default mode. Her early morning habit of spending time in the Scriptures, created a safe place for her to lament the consequences of her daughter’s choices. She pled with the Lord to protect her grandchildren, to open her daughter’s eyes to the lies of the enemy, to encourage her son-in-law to persevere in their marriage and for the Lord to do whatever necessary to lead her daughter to the Cross.
From Jesus’ life she learned the words she spoke needed to reflect her prayers. She needed to carefully choose each word spoken to her daughter. Every morning she met with her Lord and asked Him to put a guard on her lips. Whenever she knew her daughter might stop by, this broken-hearted mother prayed God would keep her quiet when her thoughts came from a place of anger, hurt or betrayal. The spirit of Jesus slowly took over her tongue with each conversation with her daughter. She embraced her task to set a table for her daughter and invite her to taste and see that the Lord is good. Prayer moved her from worry to watching. This mother’s helplessness drove her to the Cross, where the death of her previously automatic angry responses made room for the resurrection love of Jesus.
Once more, let’s consider this question: What is my default mode when life crashes in on me? My friend’s habit of spending time in God’s Word prepared her to surrender in helplessness to the Lord when life fell on top of her. She was ready to hear His Word. Her time with Him helped her navigate this strange land of her daughter’s choices. This passage in John gave her specific instruction on how to communicate with her daughter:
And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And whoever sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told Me.” - John 12:44-50 ESV
By watching Jesus interact with people, she concluded the Lord wanted her to see the power of her words, and to ask Him to put a guard on her mouth and trust Him with her daughter’s heart. She was not her daughter’s judge. God was. If Jesus waited for God to give Him words to speak, shouldn’t she do likewise? This dedicated mother coupled her loving actions with spirit-filled words. Her commitment to carefully listen to God’s instructions, released her from the responsibility of changing her daughter’s heart; that was God’s job. Time in God’s word reminded her of the words of R. Albert Mohler, Jr.: “Our responsibility is to get God's word to their ears. Only God can get the word from their ears to their heart.”
My friend’s default system of regularly spending time in prayer and God’s Word kicked in when disappointment, hurt, and fear tried to take over. Becoming like a child, dependent on her Lord for daily wisdom, comfort and strength freed her to intentionally love her daughter. Instead of trying to convince her daughter to change her behavior, this mother prayed for the Lord to change her child’s heart. She wanted her daughter to fall in love with Jesus. Submitting to the guidance of her Heavenly Father, meant killing her natural reaction of anger and condemnation, which her daughter expected. In response, slowly, the walls her daughter had built around herself started coming down.
Does your default system include regular time reading Scripture and praying? What is your response when you can’t control the beliefs or behavior of a loved one?
Write out in your journal; “Lord, I cannot do life on my own. I need you as a child needs her daddy. Lead me to the Cross and show me not only your grace, but open my tightly clenched fists to reveal places where I think I can do life better without You. What is it that I am afraid to surrender to Your life-giving love?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a nonprofit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children and fourteen grandchildren.
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