Thy Will Be Done

It is 4:00 am in the morning. My heart is restless. It is in the deep folds of the early AM that I can listen and hear the messages I need to hear.

Thy Will Be Done is a line in the Lord’s Prayer. It is the prayer Jesus uttered in the garden late in the night, before his judgement, before his betrayal by Judas, before his judgement before Pontius Pilot (Matthew 26: Verses 39 &42). He asked for the cup to pass over him-his final act of humaness-the crucifixion.  It is the prayer we utter as Christians. It is an act of surrender when we have stopped working the problem or realizing we have no control over the situation.

But so many times it is the first prayer after our own struggles and angst. At least for me it is. I feel as I’ve given up some sort of fight, some sort of solution. I have thrown my hands up in surrender.

I don’t think that is what They Will Be Done means. It doesn’t mean I have done all the figuring out, all the questions and now, I am no further along, so I give up and give in!

So what is it? Surrender is another way to look at it. And the word surrender feels like I really have given up. But nothing is done in the physical world that is worthy unless it is done in the spiritual first.

Spiritual means all sorts of things to many people. I was speaking with a new friend yesterday. He had gone skiing the day before in the middle of the week. Practically alone on a mountain and having the privilege of viewing a vast panorama of the snow covered mountains, he said he felt something beyond himself-tremendous gratefulness and love. I named it God, but he was stuck on this label. And many people are because they think that Thy Will Be Done is a prison sentence, something that affects their free will. I asked him if we could agree that God is Love, and so we could just say he was experiencing Love on the mountaintop. And he was! He was experiencing Love- the Creator’s Love.

Does Thy Will Be Done mean I don’t have a choice? Like Christ asking twice if the cup of sacrifice could be passed over him? I don’t think so. I think it means we don’t know many times what is going on in our lives. We don’t know the answers. Or we can’t change someone or a situation. Surrendering has different meanings. I looked it up! There is cease resistance to an enemy or authority; give or hand over; in sports it means lose a point or advantage; and then my favorite is abandon oneself entirely to a powerful  emotion or influence. 

What if surrender and the words They Will Be Done really means getting lost in God’s Love? Yielding to a powerful emotion of rest and peace and knowing? Even if you don’t like what you see or experiencing?

I have many situations in my life where I want to figure it out- especially in relationships. I want to know so I can control my feelings, so I can make wise decisions and not be overwhelmed by my own emotions. Emotions can cause us hurt, be vulnerable to an outcome we are not sure of. And what is more vulnerable than surrendering? Jesus was very vulnerable in the garden asking God to pass the cup. He had a mission, a job to do, but when it came down to the last act, he wanted to avoid the pain. He knew what the last note of his life would look like, even though he also knew the hope of a resurrection.

Why is it so hard to trust? And please, platitudes we Christians throw around as if we are really doing this are empty and full of pretending.  But what if we didn’t see this as giving up our choices, our free will,  but seeing and feeling it as being in the throes of heavenly Love that brings a sweet surrender? I want that kind of surrender-trusting beyond what I can see or figure out.

I’d like to share a poem I wrote ten years ago. I was working at a church as a youth administrator while going back to school for my graduate degree. I really liked working at a church. We had a beautiful chapel and there stood on a large wood stand a very large, hammered bronze bowl used for the baptismal. It shone and gleamed. And one day during our weekly chapel for staff, I saw the bowl as something else. This poem came. It is about surrender:

The Bowl of Tears 

You have fed them with the bread of tears;

You have made them drink tears by the bowlful.

The Bible, Psalm 80, Verse 5 


The bowl was passed in front of me,

Its burnished bronze shone in the light.

I gazed upon the bearer’s hands,

Though scarred a thousand times,

They bore a simple strength

I’d never seen with other men.


I hid my eyes from this dark bowl.

For I’d heard tales about its woes.

How life would bring this bowl to each

In different times by unknown foes.


Some tasted in their first new years, while others

Midst between. They say if you were lucky,

You passed the bowl so many times

until it gave you up. Or so until death itself,

would come to make its claim.


But now his hands hold the bowl so patiently

waiting for me to drink.

I press my hands together tightly

And tighter still my lips.


Must I drink this bitter juice?

Must I take my place?

Among the Mothers’ crying hearts?

Among life’s broken gates?


As I recall the tales I know,

A stream of rivers run

With lives who drank this bowl;

took the forms of spectacle that

played so sadly in their homes,

altering their human pith.


This tale’s been told a thousand times,

of yester year’s forward march to wars

and soldiers’ triumphant stands;

Of gleaming swords and upraised shields.

To victory, I heard the sounds.


Young men went with burning hope, to taste

the blood of putting right, but found fear buried near,

in deaths of enemies and friends,

Remains of dust, remains of skin, stretched tightly

‘cross both broken drums, bones, and limbs.

While mothers cried into the bowl

for lives that wouldn’t walk again.


Must I drink this bitter juice?

Must I take my place?

Among the Mothers’ crying hearts?

Among life’s broken gates?


I’ve also heard the tales of hope within a young girl’s heart,

Who found instead of love and hearth,

She’s traded for a piece of land,

To gain the favor of a man.

So her life now’s been laid aside, buried deep within.

To please her man, to please his itch. The faintest trace of

What she wished when she was a just a lamb.


And so she asks, and I do too,

Must I drink this bitter juice?

Must I take my place?

Among the Mothers’ crying hearts?

Among life’s broken gates?


The bowl is filling up. It never seems to empty.

The liquid swirls and pools into a darkened, flattened space.

In it is my reflection.

It draws me in to see;

Like a prophetic vision, unfolded edge by edge,

I see a scene of sadness and with my heart I begged.


Must I drink this bitter juice?

Must I take my place?

Among the Mothers’ crying hearts?

Among life’s broken gates?


I see the scarred hands up close.

They seem too tender for such woes.

They know more than common hands.

The scars bear something yet untold;

Of mysteries, of love gone wild, of solid strength

That traveled miles, to carry forth a sacred task.

And standing with this bowl for me, there is no call for a reprieve.


The bearer tells me, “Drink the tears.

That never shall run dry.

I’ll hold the cup and comfort you.

Though life in this place seems so hard,

It won’t last that long.”


The liquid shimmered red within,

A cup formed from brass and flame.

And as he held his hands round mine,

I dipped my head to drink,

and found the contents of its pain.

It trickled down my mouth and throat

The taste of death, yet sweetness too.

A bitterness I’d soon forget.


For me, it does not matter; my tale is told.

The trouble I’ve encountered is stretched across the grain

Of lives upon a planet besmirched with blood-soaked stains.

My soul and spirit have been lifted from the blackened sin of doubt which

weighs me down, polluted from within.


Within this space I entered in,

a calmness courses through my frame.

A love greater than a mother’s own

Reached deep and covered all my sin.

I did not move; I breathed in deep.

This sacredness, this warming drink had

Brought me to the deepest pain and

through the darkest valley known.

But streaks of dawn now crossed my face

And dried my tears and hollow fears.


I looked up to this shining source,

To see the gentle smile he wore

and eyes of love that shone on me.

But from his eyes, the tears did fall.

To me this was a puzzlement.

That love so great could hold this bowl

And have the strength to live again.

I understood my loss of pain.

For as his tears ran down his cheeks,

past his loving smile,

It filled the burnished bowl, held in his nail-scarred hands,

comforting all who drank within,

By Him we are forgiven and by His victory stand.


Victoria Yeary, 2005

I hope my struggle with Thy Will Be Done helps others in some way. I hope you struggle as well with being overwhelmed by Love!




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